Credit: The Sims (posted to Twitter)

‘Utter madness’: Sims video game adds trans top surgery scars and chest binders to characters

Popular children’s video game series The Sims has provoked backlash from some parents after a new update allowed child characters to adopt ‘top surgery’ scars, which result from breast removal. Sims 4, in a selection of upgrades, will also allow children to add chest binders – to flatten the breasts – to their characters. 

The game, which has an age rating of 12, was praised by some for the “inclusive upgrades” which also include hearing aids and shapewear. However, concerned parents have been among those to take to social media to voice their concerns over what they see as an overreach. Just months ago, the game series, which describes itself as the “ultimate life stimulation” came under fire for adding “they/them” pronouns into the game.

An announcement informed players, who are as young as 12, that they could access a “Body Scars Category” for teen characters and could choose to add a “Top Surgery scar” to their character – in order to represent a transgender character. Top surgery scars are horizontal lines of scar tissue which are left after someone undergoes gender realignment surgery which involves removing the breasts. 

Along with bottom shapewear, users can also select chest binders – often used by those with gender dysphoria to make the breasts look smaller.

One parent, taking to Twitter, urged parents to be aware of what their children were playing.

“Attention all parents & grandparents, check your kids’ games & make sure they aren’t playing this,” the user named C-Reason said.

“Stop teaching kids that it’s ok to transition, it is not okay, that is an adult decision,” another user said. Another user asked for the reasoning behind the update, tweeting: “Why? This is actually making a joke of those of us who have dysphoria and do transition, this is not “inclusive”. Kids play these games, why the hell are you encouraging this?”

Meanwhile, Canadian psychologist Dr Jordan Peterson described the update as “utter madness”.

“My kids loved this game. For shame,” he said, amid claims the game was “teaching young healthy girls that it’s ok to chop off their breasts”.

Others, however, including many LGBT advocates, described the update as “inclusive” – adding that they loved the update. One user was among several in one Twitter thread to describe opponents of the decision of “internalised transphobia”.

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) advises parents that while the Sims is rated 12, the game includes “crude humour, sexual themes, and violence”.

In its rating summary, it outlines: “This is a “sandbox” simulation game in which players create, customise, and control characters called “Sims” through their daily activities. Players are free to pursue a variety of daily goals as they observe and attempt to influence other Sims in town. 

“Players can socially interact with Sims to build relationships, and are free to pursue more intimate encounters, such as the ability to kiss, hug, or engage in “Try for Baby” and “Mess Around” (i.e., sex) with another Sim: this action depicts the Sims squirming, giggling, and moaning under the covers until hearts float around the bed”.

Some users said updates like including wheelchairs to represent disabled players would have been better, while many expressed support for the addition of hearing aids for characters, which are available in 15 different colours.

Deaf player @LuddySimmer said: “Never thought one day I could represent myself in The Sims but I’m glad it’s here.”

The Sims has been free to play since late 2022, with the latest update issued on 31 January 2023.

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