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The Sims 4 & Body Image

By BloodyFanGirl30-08-2013

Yesterday there was a lot of discussion in the simming community over the reported inclusion of the Sims in the latest iteration of the series having emotional reactions to their weight. Now Sims 4 producer, Grant Rodiek, has tweeted and clarified that this will not be part of the game after all. Rodiek spoke to PCGamesN at Gamescom earlier this month and said:

"We have the ability for [Sims] to be unhappy about their weight. It's tricky with the emotional state being based on people's weight. We want to make sure we're not making a statement or telling people what's right or wrong, but you can tell a story with those tools."

The possible inclusion of this mechanic in the game worried some members of the Simming community as the fear was that it would reinforce negative stereotypes. Rodiek has since assured that, whilst the developers have the ability to include it, it won't be part of the game. Rodiek responded to the worries fans had over a series of tweets and he wrote:

"Hi Simmers - I was apparently quoted as saying Sims will have an emotional reaction to their bodies. This is not the case. We do not feel it is appropriate to make a judgement based on your Sims bodies. You get to tell the story as you want and love who you are. I'm sorry for the confusion. This really makes me sad to read. I believe this is where the confusion was -- it is POSSIBLE for us to do it. But we WON'T do it. It is NOT appropriate nor is it fun.

"Honestly, it never even occurred to us to make emotions based on body image. That question was the first time it came to mind. No malice or ill will was meant by any of this. Just a mix up, that's all."

Personally I feel that this could have been an interesting addition to the game, so long as it wasn't just fat Sims having only negative responses to their weight. I agree that the possible emergent narratives could've been very interesting, especially if there was a number of ways it could play out rather than a simple narrative of a fat sim not liking how they look, losing weight and then liking their appearance. What if feeling better about one's appearance after losing weight wasn't guaranteed in the game? What if there were steps the player could take to make a sim gradually accept and like their appearance without making changes? That said, the subject of body image is a very contentious one and I can understand why the developers did not think it a good idea to take the risk. But then there's little stopping the modding community adding something similar to the game upon its release anyway.

Comments (2)
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Posts: 166

There is enough pressure from the media about body types and we don't need video games saying what is right and wrong in body types, so glad it will not be in the final game.

Posts: 3290

Yeah? And what about the grievous harm ignoring such an important issue can and has done? Presenting people as unhappy about being overweight is not, intrinsically, a negative stereotype. The whole "big is beautiful" and positive self body image is something that can only be allowed to persist so far. Like it or not, being "fat" is not something to be proud of. It can be, and for far too many people, already is a serious medical concern. The horrendous abuse being as little as fourteen pounds/one stone overweight can inflict upon the cardiovascular system is grossly under appreciated amidst the touchy feely "let's not offend anyone" mentality. There is a massive difference between recognising someone is overweight, and being an asshat by laughing at them. Ignoring the problem, dear reader, does not make it go away. Or rather, it does. By killing people.

And you know what? I'm also overweight. Not by a great deal...anymore. But not so very long ago my Doctor was most concerned about the excessive extra bodymass I'd built up. And you know what? I wasn't happy with the way I looked. I didn't feel fat, I didn't feel like it was a serious problem, and I didn't care if other people didn't like the way I looked. But I still recognised the risks to my health, and that made me unhappy. So I lost some. Close on thirty pounds down now. Oddly, I look larger than I used to *flex* but it took a LOT of hard bloody work to get to where I am. Nothing changed, for months. I kept an eye on my progress, weighed myself at regular, but widely spaced, intervals and noticed that the weight was slowly decreasing, but nothing had changed in the way I look. Let me repeat that, it took months before I showed any obvious signs of progress. It wasn't until half a year had passed, I was standing one morning, still groggy and not yet fully clothed, and caught a sidelong glance at myself in the mirror. Saw abdominal muscles for the time in my life. That was when it all paid off.

The moral of the story kids, body image is not a trivial matter. It should not EVER be brushed under the carpet. And frankly, ignoring it is even worse than shaming people for being the 'wrong' shape. Because it not about social conventions. It never was This is a matter of your health. Anyone who wants to make it a societal issue can kiss my sexy new abs BITCH!