So, I’m a fan of the game The Sims. I’ve played all the iterations, I have many of the expansions packs. I have enjoyed them.
And in none of them have people with disabilities been featured.
I’m sure were we to ask for it, we’d hear that it is hard to make wheelchairs work in games. (In fact, I can’t think of a video game in which wheelchairs are a part of the game.)
Some Elders are depicted with canes, but I’ve never seen a young person with a cane in the game – because of course, only the elderly need a cane to walk with. Nevermind me and my purple cane of stabilizing +5!
Representation is important, I say this a lot. What I think is important to note here, is that disability just doesn’t exist. It’s erasure.
It’s frustrating to play a game I enjoy and not see my people in – but I play a lot of games without disabled characters, so what’s making this a particular thorn in my paw?
Because it’s a sim. Because we’re supposed to be able to build ourselves, to build people different from us – to build people we aren’t.
If you’re able bodied , you should be able to have a sim who uses a white cane, or hell, a hearing aid. A hearing aid would be a really easy thing to add to the options for The Sims. It would live in the same category as glasses in “accessories”.
It would be great because much like having dolls from American Girl with hearing aids, diabetes accessories, and wheelchairs, it encourages kids to see themselves in the imaginative storytelling they engage in. To be frank, The Sims is an ideal game for inclusion. It’s friendly to many age groups (I first played it when I was 16, and the kid who introduced me to it was 12 or 13) and it’s open world enough to create a sense of equality.
There are lots of fiddly bits I could talk about that make the Sims more challenging for me to play as a low vision gamer, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters here is that there’s an opportunity for inclusive play, an opportunity to play disabled folks in a setting that wouldn’t seem like it had been shoved in there to make people like me happy – and it hasn’t happened yet.
I hope maybe someday, this will be an option – because representation is really what I care about.