The Sims 4 Needs Representation: Interview with Elisa

I was just browsing on twitter, and ran across an interesting title of an article. This article talked about the possibility of disability representation in The Sims, one of my favorite games. Elisa wrote an article that I found.  I immediately wanted to reach out to her, and upon doing so she accepted the request for an interview! Please read her original article here!

What is your name?

My name is Sherry, but people also know me as Elisa online.

How old are you?

I am 20 years old at the time of this interview, going on 21 in December.

How long have you been playing The Sims?

Oh, god… I had to look it up. Since I was 10. It’s been a decade and I didn’t even know. My mum bought The Sims 3 for me when it first released, and I’ve been invested in this series ever since. I now currently own and play The Sims 2 and 4 as well, with the main game I play now being The Sims 4.

When did you first notice the lack of disability representation?

Honestly, I don’t think it’s something you notice so much as subconsciously resign yourself to in your life? Growing up consuming media and having Spinal Muscular Atrophy, in everything from books to movies to video games, I’ve always known and accepted that people like me don’t necessarily get to have our stories told unless we fit into the “Inspiration” box. It wasn’t until I reached my teenage years and adulthood that I saw the power of representation and how we need to rectify the lack of disability representation across the board… But I didn’t dare to dream that it’s something that could happen with one of my favorite game series until Grant Rodiek released his tweets saying that it could be possible. I think that shows how important is for people in the audience and gaming industry to step up and show the way.

What would you like to see them doing differently?

Even if they don’t implement disabilities as features for gameplay, I’d really like to see Maxis reach out to disabled gamers who run their own gaming channels or blogs to talk to them if they play The Sims. That in itself creates representation and shows that people from all walks of life play games like The Sims.

Have they made any attempts to include people with disabilities?

The only time I heard of an attempt to implement representation within gameplay was in September 2018, after reading Grant Rodiek’s tweets which can be found on SimsVip: I have heard zero about it since. However, there was a recent patch for November that included a new Accessibility tab including a feature to resize the UI, for those with visual impairments. So, in a way, the answer is yes. There’s a long way to go, but it shows that Maxis might be considering more steps in the right direction. I’m hoping, anyway.

People do all sorts of mods for this game, are there any private mods you can install to add what you’re looking for?

There are cosmetic mods to alter your sims’ appearances. I’ve used them to create sims for a photo series I did and will continue at some point. Unfortunately, nothing to mod the gameplay itself to include disabilities.The cosmetic mods are pretty scarce. I think I only found a couple of working links to prosthetics and hearing aids, and one wheelchair. Given how huge of an undertaking it would take, I wouldn’t be surprised if it would only be possible from Maxis’ end or with a really dedicated team of modders.

What’s your average playtime look like?

Hours. It looks like hours. If I’m actually playing the game instead of making my own cosmetic mods or taking pictures for my blog, I lose track of time really easily. Sometimes it takes up my whole afternoon or evening. According to Origin, I’ve clocked 857 hours on The Sims 4 alone. I’m scared to look at the numbers for The Sims 2 and 3. It’s bad.
What are your favorite things to do in the game?

I just like making sims and creating my own stories with the gameplay, honestly. I’m not the type of player who likes to make her sims suffer or do challenges. I very much enjoy the sandbox feel of the game and the freedom it gives me. I’m also, ironically, a sucker for tragic fictional characters and a huge nerd, so I have a couple of saves where I give characters from Doctor Who, Daredevil, Dragon Age, and the happy domestic lives. They deserve it after making me cry.

Do you have a favorite story about sims?

Friends of mine used to create really well-written pieces of original fiction using The Sims 3 to make the visuals. They were like proper novels. They were written years back and never completed, but those are my favorite stories to this day. Both the pieces of fiction themselves and the stories of my friends’ creativity.

If you could send a message directly to EA, what would you say about disabled gamers?

I’d say to them: You know we’re out there. You know we play your games. Some of us may even work for you.I’d hope that you see what an impact you would have on us and gaming history if more of your games and studios have more representation going forward. Everyone has something to contribute, and everyone loves a good story and the ability to see themselves in others. Disabled gamers are no different.

Is there anything else you might like to add?

I’d like to thank AbleGamers for reaching out and setting this interview up and the work you’re doing, and I’d like to thank those who work at Maxis for so many good memories in my life. The Sims was conducive to me being part of a community and meeting a few of my friends. I hope that, in time to come, it’s helpful to others too. Sul sul.

Interviewing Elisa was fun, I enjoyed meeting with her. I can easily relate to her as I have some unknown physical disabilities that prevent me from being able to do much. I am currently undergoing testing for OPCA and MS, so while it’s not her exact problems both can be very limiting.

I hope that should EA come across this article, it might help them to realize how important having disability representation in a popular video would be. They could then hopefully work on implementing this.  In the future, I might like to see a livestreamer by the name of Dapperpaperbag interviewed, she has autism stage 1 (asperger’s syndrome) and only found this out in her adult years.

Catherine loves making YouTube videos, livestreaming, and writing blogs. Feel free to check her out on YouTube, Twitch, or WordPress!