The inclusion of same sex relationships in The Sims back in 2000 was never actually planned, says a Maxis developer. Instead, lead engineer Jamie Doornbos programmed it into the game without telling anyone, and nobody at Maxis was bothered enough to take it back out again.
[img_big]center,6468,2013-07-24/ts3_moviestuff_western_2.jpg,The Sims 3[/img_big]
He just went in there and it was a thing one day. Nobody really questioned it, which was cool.
In hindsight, Doornbos was able to take such liberties because nobody expected The Sims to be as ridiculously popular as it turned out to be. The developer “had more permission because it was seen as a kind of casual type game”.
The Sims lets players flirt with and engage in romantic encounters with other consenting adult characters, regardless of gender. Same-sex partnerships can move in together, get married, and adopt children – just like opposite-sex partnerships.
I think it was just that homosexuality isn’t new, it’s something that exists in our world and we’re trying to simulate people in our world. And so I think that what they wanted to do, and this is going to sound terrible, but what they wanted to do was protect the people who are basically bigoted against that kind of thing, because they want sales from everybody. So, to make it an optional thing that’s essentially disabled unless you seek it out as the player, that I think gave EA the sort of permission to say that’s fine. People wouldn’t even find it unless they looked for it.
While it was an active choice from Doornbos (who is openly gay), Graham also mentions that the inclusion of same-sex relationships made some development tasks easier. The programming team had its hands full writing specific code to prevent untoward relationship behaviour (such as incest), so simply allowing consenting adults to form a relationship was the path of least resistance.
There was never a question of do we support this, it was a question of how do we want to support this.