It's not been a good week for gay rights in gaming. First Nintendo revealed that players will not be allowed to engage in same-sex relationships in their latest video game Tomodachi Life. Now, Russia have slapped an 18+ adults only rating on The Sims 4 – this time, because players can engage in same-sex relationships.
Russia's attitude towards LGBTQ rights is, of course, shocking. In 2013, Putin passed a law that banned the "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships" with the stated aim of protecting children. In practice, that has only encouraged widespread discrimination and, in some cases, shocking violence against gay Russians.
Electronic Arts, makers of The Sims, say that they have no plans to alter the game to suit homophobic Russian laws, but they have no choice but to abide by the rules if they want to sell the video game in the country.
Players have taken to Twitter to express their outrage:
One of the attractions of The Sims – other than the imaginative number of ways to kill your avatar – is the ability to explore and experiment with relationships, including same-sex ones. When Electronic Arts first released the game way back at the turn of the millenium, the option to engage in gay relationships was already built in. It's marked The Sims out as one of the more inclusive games of recent years. Players have responded accordingly, with Tumblr accounts dedicated to gay Sims couples and over 80,000 YouTube videos devoted to showing off the lives of gay Sims.
In celebration of equal rights for gamers, check out a gay love story between two Sims below:
Follow Thomas Gorton on Twitter here @angstromhoot