The Sims 4 Addresses 'Whitewashing' Claims

The Sims 4 Addresses 'Whitewashing' Claims
Electronic Arts

Written by 

Tom Chapman


13th Aug 2021 13:59

There's some "badee noo-zoo" (bad news) and "troubee paradise" (trouble in paradise) for The Sims, as Maxis' long-running simulation series has been accused of whitewashing its NPCs with each new game. It's hard to believe it's been 20 years since The Sims first drove onto the block and tasked us with building our own suburban ideology. 

We've come a long way since the Tragic Clown first stepped into our living room, and while we've done everything from becoming superstars to magicians, visited the Medieval Ages to investigate the paranormal, the base game has largely stayed the same. Or has it? Now, The Sims 4 has been caught in a wave of racial controversy.

Why is The Sims 4 accused of whitewashing?

The idea that The Sims is whitewashing its townies has been broached several times. In a Reddit thread just recently, characters like Cassandra Goth and Dina Caliente were placed next to their first appearance and later iterations - with a clear difference in the colour of their skin tones.

During an Inside Maxis Twitch stream, team members Ash and SimGuruGeorge answered several fan questions, with attention turning to the issue of "whitewashing". Discussing these allegations, Ash said, "Hundreds of townies have come to life since the first Sims game launched 21 years ago. A lot of love has been put into every single one of them, and we acknowledge that they need continued care and attention". 

In December, Maxis added a free update to The Sims 4 that delivered 100+ new skin tones and a slider option to adjust skin tones more than ever before. That's all well and good for adjusting the Sims inside your home, but what about the NPCs that have made up the game's rich backdrop over the past two decades?

What is The Sims 4 doing to counteract its whitewashing claims?

Last year, The Sims Executive Producer Lyndsay Pearson addressed long-standing complaints that darker skin tones were limited, as well as the idea that the few available were "ashy" or  "blotchy". The skin tone slider did something to alleviate these issues, but NPCs are a whole different story. 

Although Ash didn't directly mention whitewashing, she assured us things could be about to change. "So it's about time for a tiny overhaul", said Ash. "We are currently in the process of updating NPCs in The Sims 4 including visuals as well as their lore.

"This will take some time to accomplish, as we have to spend some quality time with each and every single Sim from Willow Creek to Henford-on-Bagley . That means we're taking it step-by-step – or townie by townie – and we're excited to update you at a later date". 

Elsewhere, there was a hint that the likes of werewolves and zombies could be added as customisation options. On the more serious end of the spectrum, the latest comments prove Maxis is willing to listen to its loyal fan base.

Earlier this year, the developer added a wider selection of Asian eye presets and more hairstyle options to continue impressive progression with gender representation. While we might never go back to that fierce Bella Goth that strutted into the neighbourhood in the OG version of The Sims, rest assured that the team is listening.


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