In early February EA announced a new game pack for ‘The Sims 4’ called ‘My Wedding Stories’, which was set to be released on the 16th of February 2022. This pack was set to enhance the gameplay of the simulation game by allowing your Sims to have proper wedding celebrations. This would include the chance to go shopping for your wedding dress, cake and flowers, as well as picking a venue from among the new builds in the specially created world, ‘Tartosa’ – aspects that were not already present in the base game model.
The Sims 4 and EA have always, in my opinion, worked very hard to ensure all people are represented in their game – at least harder than many other game developers (think Lara Croft…).
The ability to customise your character’s skin colour, features, clothing (including religious pieces), and the notion that your Sims are pansexual by nature, has allowed users to play scenarios in which they feel seen in the game.
These aspects are part of ‘The Sims’ team’s commitment to their users.
However, EA said that the new game pack would not be released at all in Russia. Although same-sex relations have been legal since 1993 in Russia, anything that shows homosexuality as normal to minors is labelled propaganda. As the trailer followed a lesbian couple, Dominique and Camille, falling in love and getting married, EA claimed they would have to change the scenario features and trailer to fit with Russian law, which they felt was "compromising the values we live by".
Initially, it seems that this point is fair; they don’t want to go backwards on their values, which is admirable for a company that could have ignored same-sex relations in their game in order to sell to a wider market. However, the only people EA are actually hurting here are their Russian fans.
The base game, which includes same-sex marriage, is already available in Russia, just marked as an 18. So why would the game pack be any different?
With no protection against discrimination in Russia, the LGBTQIA+ community rely on those with more privileged voices to speak out on their behalf. A popular game providing the community with representation is an example of that. It normalises homosexuality in a country that rejects gay people for who they are.
It is no surprise then, that #WeddingsForRussia was trending on Twitter, alongside angry and disappointed tweets to EA, and popular ‘The Sims’ Youtubers, such as Plumbella and Lilsimsie, boycotting the game until EA decided to release it everywhere.
On February 16th, EA announced that it was pushing the release of the game back by a week, and were releasing it everywhere, including Russia, on February 24th, "unaltered and unchanged".
"Since then, we’ve been listening to the outpouring of feelings from our community including both support for our decision and concern for their fellow community members. It’s equally important for us to stand by our values, including standing against homophobia, and to share stories like this with those who want and need it most.
With this in mind, we’ve reassessed our options and realized we can do more than we initially believed and we will now release The Sims 4 “My Wedding Stories” Game Pack to our community in Russia, unaltered and unchanged, featuring Dom and Cam."
I am really glad that EA came to this decision, and I hope ‘My Wedding Stories’ opens the door for more same-sex couples to feel seen and represented in video games across the world.
Words by: Anna Duffell
Edited by: Catherine Pears