The Sims 4 team just released a highly anticipated update for its PC, Mac, and console game that includes more inclusive and customizable skin tones and makeup, updates to a few base-game hairstyles, a menu makeover, and other fixes to address bugs and glitches inside the gameplay. 

The more noteworthy aspect of this recent update is the new addition of 100+ skin tones, which are now divided into categories of warm, neutral, cool, or miscellaneous undertones. Simmers can now customize skin tones for their Sims with a value slider that unlocks a variety of skin and undertone combinations, allowing The Sims 4 to truly function as a real-life simulation game. Players can also save custom skin color combinations they design in-game to use again for future sim creations.

Prior to the new update, darker skin tones in create-a-sim were ashy, blotchy and glitchy, and makeup in the game was unflattering on deep-dark skin tones. In 2018, the Sims added 10 more skin tone options to the base game, but there were problems with appearance and/or functionality. Black Simmers have critiqued this particular aspect of gameplay since The Sims 4’s release in 2014. More specifically, it was the combined efforts of Black and POC simmers, such as Xmiramira, EbonixSims, MiaZaff1, RaonyPhillips and catherinegYT, broadcasting these critiques loud enough to prompt the Sims team into taking action. This outcry made this major update, as well as future improvements, possible. 

Even in a game where I have total control of the world, white people are still the default.

On Monday, The Sims team announced the game updates to fans in a Twitter thread. They stated, “As we welcome this update, we are committed to making meaningful progress for all players and we are continuing the work for better in-game representation long-term.”

This recent update is one of many their team have been implementing throughout the year to increase the quality of gameplay and address community critiques. The Sims creators have been allowing Simmers to participate in polls to decide what new packs come out, what addition to gameplay we would like to see, and how The Sims 4 can improve the game overall in order to satisfy our complaints. 

The implementation of more inclusive skin tones is long overdue. All these short-comings of the game, which affect Black Simmers, have been apparent since the franchise’s release six years ago. I still recognize the significance of this recent update because it will help The Sims 4 truly become the vision of inclusion the game claims to stand for: a life simulation game representative of any and all people who play the game. But in the future, The Sims franchise needs to do better.

That being said, I am glad The Sims 4 finally listened to Black and POC Simmers by adding more inclusive elements to the game, specifically more personalization for Black Sims. 

Notably, I tested the game update earlier this week, as this update was highly anticipated for me as well. I was very happy with all of the create-a-sim changes. The ability to create Black Sims that can represent me and my community meant so much to me because I have been an avid Sims player since the original Sims in the early 2000s. I can now create Sims that properly represent the different shades and undertones of real people and customize makeup so that it’s flattering for my Black Sims in ways I never could before.

Additionally, I appreciate The Sims 4 team for updating some of the base-game hair to include baby hairs, which adds a tad more realism for Black Simmers who lay their edges in real life. It’s the little details that really make a life-simulation game feel more realistic.

The implementation of more inclusive skin tones is long overdue.

Again, these kinds of create-a-sim aspects should have been included in The Sims 4 base game. It shouldn’t have taken six years for Black players to effectively create themselves in a life-simulation game. It feels as though Black simmers are an afterthought to The Sims 4 creators. Even in a game where I have total control of the world, white people are still the default. Like always, white people are allotted basic privileges that everyone else has to wait in line for. Video games are supposed to be escapism. Black and POC game players shouldn’t be made to feel excluded from the games we love and support.

Overall, these conversations surrounding what more The Sims team can do to be more inclusive is a necessary one to continue having. These conversations highlight overlooked gameplay issues that even non-Black Simmers are not aware of. As a result, demands pushing for progressive change in The Sims 4, and ideally future Sim’s releases, challenges EA game creators to be inclusive and encompass all players from the very beginning. Not as an afterthought following criticism.

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Ebony Purks

By Ebony Purks

Editorial Fellow