The Sims 4

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The Sims 4 [ The Sims 4]
Genre Simulation
Gamming Style Simulation
Platform Windows, Mac OS X, Playstation 4, Xbox One
Release Date 2014
Developer Maxis
Publisher Electronic Arts
Website The Sims 4, Electronic Arts (EA)

The Sims 4 is the fourth title in the life simulation game series The Sims, developed by Maxis from Electronic Arts. It has sold over 5 million copies and has received generally mixed reviews since its release in 2014. [1]

The gameplay largely builds upon the series' previous title, The Sims 3. Players create Sims and control the Sims' actions. The player can also build their own houses and buildings for their Sims. Similar to the past Sims titles, the game is nonlinear, where there is no clear end goal. The Sims 4 has expanded the capabilities of players to customize their Sims appearance, characteristics, and actions. The Sims' emotions now have a larger influence on the Sims than in previous games. [1][2] However, the broader capacity of the Sims 4 to simulate real life, and The Sims series in general, have continued to raise ethical concerns.


Create A Sim (CAS)

Gender fluidity in The Sims 4 CAS

Create A Sim, or CAS, allows players to create and customize their own Sims. Players can choose the Sims’ physical appearance, such as skin color, hair styles, and eye color. They can also choose the Sims’ clothing and outfits for specific functions. The CAS tool also allows the players to choose the Sims’ personality/traits and the Sims’ life goal. However, The Sims 4 CAS gives much more flexibility to players to personalize their Sims compared to the CAS function in previous Sims games.

Players are able to shape and manipulate the face and body parts of their Sims by clicking and drag their mouse. There are also options to choose how the Sims walk. The appearance of Sims is very customizable. One of the biggest additions to CAS in the Sims 4 is gender fluidity. Unlike previous Sims titles, players are not constrained to male and female Sims. All clothing and hairstyles are available to any genders. Players are able to choose if Sims have masculine or feminine clothing preferences, how Sims use the toilet, and even allows pregnancy to be possible for any gender. [3]

Build/Buy Mode

Build/Buy Mode in the Sims 4

Previously separated in earlier iterations of the Sims, build and buy mode have been combined in the Sims 4. Players have the ability to build and buy houses and buildings for the Sim. The build mode allows players to create new homes and buildings from scratch, or to modify existing homes and buildings. The walls, floors, roofing, and shape of the building can all be modified by the player. The extent of the player's ability to build depends on the amount of money their Sims have unless cheat codes are applied.

The buy mode gives players the option to furnish their buildings. The amount of purchases depends on how much money the Sims have. Players can buy refrigerators, toilets, beds, and other furnishing for their Sims. The buy mode also allows purchases to modify the lives of the Sims as well. Different items, such as guitars or basketball hoops, can be purchased for the Sims to interact with.

Live Mode

Live mode with physical needs interface open showing.

Live mode is the main form of gameplay of The Sims in which players control the actions of the Sims in live game time. In live mode, Sims are able to build relationships with other Sims and build different skills. The Sims also have physical needs that need to be catered by the player for the Sim to stay alive, or for the Sim to remain in positive moods. Players can control all aspects of the Sims lives. Players can control how Sims interact with each other. The career path for Sims can be chosen, and the skills can be chosen by the player.


See also: The Sims 3

EA has currently released four expansions packs along with several game packs and additional extensions to the game.[1] These add-ons "typically provide a large amount of new gameplay content, revolving around a central theme." [4] Since the first Sims game, expansion packs have served the same purpose of adding new functions, systems, and contents to the gameplay. The Sims 4 currently as four expansion packs released: Get to Work, Get Together, City Living, and Cats and Dogs.[1] With these packs, players are able to create clubs, raise cats and dogs, and follow their Sims to work. Smaller game packs and stuff packs, such as Parenthood, enhances the Sims family experience, allowing adult Sims to influence their children's lives.

Ethical Concerns

See also: The Sims 3

Simulation games and 'God games' give immense freedom to the player. Players are able to create Sims in any fashion they want and players have the range to do anything they desire to these Sims. This degree of freedom has led to numerous ethical concerns.

Abuse, Mistreatment, and Murder

The Sims 4 gives control to players on how the Sims live, but it also gives control to players on how they die. Sims are affected by outside forces (the player's whim) and by its physical needs. Players have the responsibility to avoid events that can harm the Sims and to maintain the Sims' physical needs. If these responsibilities are ignored, Sims can die or become ill. Players have full control on the condition and standard of living of all their Sims. The method of death of the Sims experience can also be controlled by the player. Players have the ability to neglect and mistreat child Sims. Players have the ability to make Sims live in the worst conditions possible. Sims can be set on fire (or their homes set on fire), or Sims can be starved to death. Over the years, players have been creative in creating ways in which to abuse and kill their Sims.[5] There was one instance in which a player created a prison full of slave-artists who only got fed when they made art was marketable; most of the sims in this game went insane and died.[5][6]

Sims react the same way as humans would in situations of distress and pain. In the Sims 4, Sims can go insane if they are forced into uncomfortable situations, such as living in horrible, dirty conditions, having nowhere to use the bathroom or being locked in a room without a method of escape. Sims panic when they are set in fire. Sims experience grief and sadness when other Sims die or when they are abused. These behaviors are addressed by Philip Brey's claim that computer software and systems have embedded values where they can "realize human values and are not morally neutral"[7]. Sims are meant to simulate humans. They are programmed to behave and value things and experiences similar to humans. Players can even choose the interests and personalities of the Sims in the Create-A-Sim mode. Players have the choice to maintain their Sims or not, thus players have the choice on how and whether the Sims live and die. Players have the choice to experiment with morally ambiguous actions without consequence and The Sims developers do not limit the creativity of abuse, mistreatment, and death of Sims implemented by players.

LGBTQ Representation

Since The Sims was first released, it has allowed same-sex relationships between Sims. Throughout all iterations of the Sims, EA has continued to allow the Sims to have same-sex relationships. In The Sims 4, EA pushed more representation of the LGBTQ community by allowing gender fluidity for the Sims. Sims are no longer bound to the male and female sex they were given, and now have the option to indicate and express masculine and feminine preferences through the Create-A-Sim interface. As of this iteration of the game every Sim has the option to become pregnant, use the toilet standing up, and wear clothing for any gender they wish.

The Sims 4 allows more personalization and representation than previous Sims games. However, these broader capabilities have caused controversy. For countries where homosexuality is banned, The Sims 4 has been marked as harmful and given a higher age rating. [8] The Sims 4 is designed to let players make Sims as authentic or inauthentic to themselves as they want, and allowing gender fluidity is part of that design. [9] For people, religions, and nations with strict observances of law or their personal beliefs, The Sims 4's openness can be perceived as controversial or offensive.

DLCs & Exploitation of Players

After The Sims 4 was released EA began unveiling several expansion packs which would allow players to add downloadable content (or DLCs) to the main game. DLCs included 6 game packs, 4 expansion packs, and 14 stuff packs all with prices ranging from $9.99 to $39.99.[10] Several fans were outraged that the full game was released without any of this content included. Within the range of The Sims 4 DLC one of the game packs (Cats & Dogs) is a DLC of one of the expansion packs (Pets)--which is a DLC of the main game. Fans have called this "DLC-ception" and believe it is an example of EA skimping on quality in their product only to force consumers to pay to upgrade with pricey additional content.[11]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Wikipedia, The Sims 4
  2. Associated Press, 'The Sims 4' adds emotional, multitasking Sims, Daily Herald
  3. Andrew Webster, A huge Sims 4 update removes gender restrictions from character customization, The Verge
  4. Carl's Guides, Expansion Packs
  5. 5.0 5.1 The Ethics Of, The Ethics Of The Sims
  6. Reddit, What is the worst thing you've ever done in The Sims series
  7. Philip Brey, Values in Technology and Disclosive Computer Ethics, Cambridge Handbook
  8. Mia De Graaf, Russia Brands The Sims 4 'Harmful', Dailymail
  9. Oliver L. Haimson and Anna Lauren Hoffman, Constructing and enforcing "authentic" identity online: Facebook, real names, and non-normative identities, First Monday