A quote from a programmer of the popular video game franchise The Sims is making the rounds on Twitter. In the quote, Don Hopkins advocates for LGBTI inclusion in the game — back in 1998.
Librarian Phil Salvador first shared the quote on Thursday (18 July) morning.
‘It’s incredible to see the internal discussion about romance in The Sims written out so strongly like this,’ Salvador wrote in his tweet.
Sims developer Don Hopkins released a bunch of design documents from The Sims, including this one from August 1998 with his notes about romance: https://t.co/XIzdr9RnmJ
It's incredible to see the internal discussion about romance in The Sims written out so strongly like this pic.twitter.com/Ix7fQKnanw
— Phil Salvador (@itstheshadsy) July 18, 2019
The quote comes from design documents released by Hopkins about the game.
It all stemmed from the ‘SimCopter fiasco’
‘The whole relationship design and implementation (I’ve looked at the tree code) is Heterosexist and Monosexist,’ Hopkins said in August 1998.
‘We are going to be expected to do better than that after the SimCopter fiasco and the lip service that Maxis publically gave in response about not being anti-gay.’
What exactly was the SimCopter ‘fiasco’?
In 1996, Maxis released the flight simulator game SimCopter. Maxis is the developer behind the entire Sims franchise.
Jaques Servin, aka Andy Bichlbaum, was a gay programmer on SimCopter. Without permission, he inserted code into the game showing men in swim trunks being affectionate with one another, including holding hands and kissing. They did this on specific dates, such as Servin’s birthday, his boyfriend’s birthday, and Friday the 13th.
Servin said he did this partly as a prank, and partly as a response to his working conditions. Maxis ended up firing Servin for what he did.
What Hopkins said about same-sex relationships in The Sims
Not long after SimCopter, Hopkins began investigating same-sex relationship in The Sims. He began testing same-sex characters kissing.
‘When I tried to have two women kiss, the would-be-kissee slapped the kisser,’ he explained. ‘So I wrote up my opinion that it should support same sex relationships, instead of resulting in homophobic violence.’
Hopkins ended up advocating for numerous identities represented in the game, including homosexual and heterosexual, bisexual, ‘nonsexual’, and ‘all shades in between (most of the rest of the world’s population)’.
As Hopkins continued his comments, he made clear his feelings towards people who are intolerant of LGBTI representation.
‘It would make for a much more interesting and realistic game,’ he said. ‘And anyone offended by that needs to grow up and get a life, and hopefully our game will help them in that quest.
‘Anyone who is afraid that it might offend the sensibilities of other people (but of course not themselves) is clearly homophobic by proxy but doesn’t realize it since they’re projecting their homophobia onto other people.’
These issues are not new, with The Sims or otherwise
Salvador, who also runs the video game blog The Obscuritory, said these comments stood out to him because of when they happened.
‘Representation issues like this in games are not new,’ he told GSN.
‘Especially for a game series that’s become important for expressing gender and sexuality, it’s significant that these issues were being raised not just in the prototype stage of the game’s development but over 20 years ago.
‘It’s an area where games still have a lot to grow, and it’s important that even with long-standing representation issues in games, developers have been asking questions about gender and sexuality in games for years.’
The Sims is a game where players create characters and their lives from scratch. They can also build homes and make decisions after characters’ moods and relationships.
First released in 2000, it only featured a same-sex couple on a cover for the first time this year.