June 17, 2015

The Sims: An excerpt from DEATH BY VIDEO GAME




When The Sims finally launched, a player’s character was free to fall in love with whomever the player chose, regardless of gender. For young gay players who were struggling to fit in the real world, the feature was profound. In the game, if not in life, they had found a place where they could be accepted.

Programmer Patrick J. Barrett kept the story of how same-sex relationships came to The Sims a secret for more than a decade. In the years since The Sims’ original release, he believes, the world has changed in profound ways.

“At the time, it wasn’t considered “normal” to be gay or lesbian,’ he says. ‘Some even saw it as dangerous. But in The Sims it was normal and safe to be a gay person. It was the first time we could play a game and be free to see ourselves represented within. It was a magical moment when my first same-sex Sims couple kissed. I still sometimes wonder how in the world I got away with it.’

Read the rest in Death By Video Game—available for purchase here, at your neighborhood independent bookstore, at Barnes & Noble, or at Amazon.

Simon Parkin is a journalist whose writing has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, the Guardian, ESPN, and a number of other publications. DEATH BY VIDEO GAME is his first book.