Better late than never, we guess.
In a big cultural moment for the gaming world, the team behind Sims 4 have announced gamers will soon be able to choose avatars that actually represent the people playing the game; catering in particular to players with brown skin.
The first update will roll out on October 6 (which will include a few more skin tone and hairstyle options), while the bigger update will drop in December, where gamers will be able to choose avatars from a selection of over 100 new skin tones. Each skin tone will also include a slider, allowing players to make each skin tone lighter or darker.
The video franchise has long been criticised for failing to adequately cater to players of colour since it first came out in 2014, including a petition signed by almost 87k supporters on change.org. Black players in particular have remarked that skin options available to them are limited and often ‘ashy’ in tone, reflecting a failure of care when it comes to players who aren’t white (a problem that is hardly limited to video games).
As VICE bluntly points out in this 2017 piece, “Black skin is still a radical concept in video games”, a world where you're white by default. “While we celebrate the ways in which games have begun to pay attention to the large sections of its player base who aren't white, we cannot settle for characters who might vaguely resemble us but who were lazily designed and miss the mark of our intricate and colorful hues”, the article reads.
Of course, the change signals clear progress is being made by team behind the hit video game. But the question of why it took six years for them to do it remains.
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