Although it was initially conceptualized and designed as an individual game, this interactivity and group participation is now a significant part of the gaming experience, and capitalizes on the same voyeuristic phenomenon that has driven reality TV to the top of the ratings charts for years now.
Reality TV has historically been kinder to lesbians than fictional television shows, and The Sims seems to be following a similar path with its community-oriented, reality-game structure. It seems to be understood within the game and the community that players from many different backgrounds will participate and create characters similar to themselves, and there is an unstated acceptance there that is not necessarily found in real world interactions.
The Sims has shown over time that consumers will buy games that arenâ€™t ubiquitously silly and sexist. In fact, the beauty of the game lies in the simple depiction of reality, with the smallest tweak of utopia mixed in. It is a fun and highly addictive escape from the impossible standards set forth both in other stereotypical, straight male-centered video games, and in real life.
The game offers its players a chance to create a workable likeness of themselves and their own aspirations, and in allowing them to live their own lives in this safe, simulated world, The Sims has quietly broken new ground in an unexpected way: by placing every person and every relationship on an even playing field.
â€œIt doesnâ€™t push you into the patriarchal way of life,â€ comments Tracy from Thumb Bandits. â€œ[People] may feel they don't have enough control in their own realities, and The Sims is a nice form of escapism.â€ Indeed, itâ€™s no wonder that so many people would rather play this game than venture out into the realities of the world.
Can The Sims ultimately change peopleâ€™s minds about lesbian relationships? While it is difficult to say for sure, the normal, healthy way in which lesbian couples are presented in the game certainly offers the chance to do so. Because of this understated equality, it should come as no surprise that the game has sold so well throughout the world.
Fans of the game revel in how divergent The Sims is from the typical video game culture, and it is unique for so many reasons, not the least of which is the gameâ€™s fan base: females surprisingly represent over 50% of its players.
In a sexist, homophobic gaming industry, The Sims is a welcome anomaly.
Although critics were initially doubtfulâ€”believing that nobody would be interested in playing a game where things didnâ€™t blow up and there were no winners or losersâ€”over 41 million people ultimately proved them wrong. Now, hundreds of online communities are devoted to the game, and with the subsequent success of a multitude of expansion packs as well as a revamped sequel released in 2004, The Sims is not only one of the first games to adequately address lesbian relationships, but also one of the most successful and best-selling video games ever.