EA Games, which makes the recently-released The Sims 4 game, is under fire after players realized that characters with lesbian, gay, or bisexual name conventions or descriptions could not be uploaded to the community. EA promises a fix, but many are questioning why the filters were put there to begin with.
Specifically, the words “gay,” “lesbian,” and “homosexual” are not allowed in character names or descriptions despite these orientations being possible for characters in The Sims 4. “We can confirm that we are aware and that we are working on a fix which will update the automatic filtering system to permit the use of the words ‘Gay,’ ‘Lesbian’ and ‘Homosexual,'” an EA Australia representative told IGN. Other conventional names for orientations are also in the gay filter, according to Kotaku, who checked it and posted a video of The Sims 4 filter in action. The video was created by German Sims 4 player Anna.
Several attempts in the video show the filter stopping words, calling them “forbidden,” and letting others, such as “heterosexual,” go through. The filter does not prevent the names or descriptions from being used in the game, only from being shared with the public on The Sims 4 sharing site operated by EA Games. The “gay filter” is a bit odd, given the history of support for gay and lesbian issues EA Games has shown in the past, says Gamespot. It’s likely, though not confirmed, that the filters were placed in order to keep unwanted hate words from being used in the open Sims 4 community, and instead, the attempt backfired. When announcing the pending fix to Gamespot, EA said that they support player stories without regard for gender preference.
“The Sims has a long history of supporting stories that players want to tell, irrespective of gender preference.”
Yet The Sims has had gay and lesbian interactions in-game as a basically unfettered issue since its beginning. The first Sims game allowed light romantic relationships between same-sex couples. The Sims 2 included “joining ceremonies” for gay couples, and The Sims 3 introduced full marriage for everyone, regardless of orientation. This continues in The Sims 4, but filters do stop players from sharing those moments with others if certain keywords are included.
This openness about same-sex relationships has meant that the game is somewhat controversial in some areas. Russia, for example, rates The Sims 4 as an “adult” game (rating 18+) despite there being no nudity or anything worse than implied sex in the game.
EA Games has not given a timeline for their fix of the Sims 4 “gay filter,” but it’s likely to come soon given the flak they’ve received for it.