Since The Sims 4 launched last week, some players have discovered that the game won't let them share Sims through its online "Gallery" system if they use words like "gay," "homosexual," or "queer" in the character's name or description. EA told Kotaku today that it's aware of this problem and is fixing it.
Kotaku first received a tip about The Sims 4's prohibition against sharing characters that had certain LGBT-focused terms attached to them in the form of a YouTube video by German gamer Anna Eichenauer, who makes gaming and pop culture-themed videos for her channel "Why Stuff Is Great." In the video, she makes repeated attempts to name one of her Sims, or attach a description to that Sim, that include words like "gay," "queer," or "homosexual." Watch what happens:
The game's text is in German, but it's still pretty clear what's going on. I also tested it out on Kotaku's office PC in New York City and had the same result. Basically, The Sims 4 allows you to create and name a character any way you want. If I tried to create a character named "Bob Gay" or "Gay Bob," for instance, I could. But when I did, a warning popped up telling me that I would not be able to share either of them online in the public gallery. As promised, once I took Gay Bob to the Gallery and tried to upload him in all his Gay Bob glory, I wasn't allowed to. If I changed his name to "Straight Bob" but insisted on using the word "gay" in his description, I'd get the same error message telling me that I was trying to upload a character whose description "contained a forbidden word."
The same went for "Lesbian," "Homosexual," "Queer"...you get the idea. Naming him "Straight Bob" or "Heterosexual Bob," meanwhile, went off without a hitch—both in the character creation and Gallery uploading parts of The Sims 4.
So much for making my Big Gay Al-themed Sims family, I thought. But wait. It gets better!
I reached out to EA after testing this out, and a representative from the company assured me that this is a technical issue they are currently working to resolve.
"The Sims has a long history of supporting stories that players want to tell, irrespective of gender preference," the EA representative said. "The Gallery uses an automated filtering program that filters out certain words, including some of the ones you mentioned below. We are aware of have been working on a fix, which will be out soon."
To EA's credit, this spokesperson is right about the company's legacy with The Sims. As journalist Simon Parkin wrote earlier this year in an excellent piece for The New Yorker's Elements blog, The Sims has allowed players to create gay characters since the very first game thanks to a kerfuffle that unfolded at the 1999 Electronic Entertainment Expo. Hell, The Sims 4 even got slapped with an "Adults Only" rating in Russia because it conflicted with that country's current anti-gay policies.
So there you have it, folks. I'll still be able to finally put Big Gay Al in the starring role he never truly got in South Park...YET.