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“Gay propaganda” law keeps Sims 4 wedding expansion out of Russia


Artist's rendition of EA saying goodbye to Russia for this expansion pack.
Enlarge / Artist’s rendition of EA saying goodbye to Russia for this expansion pack.

EA

The “My Wedding Stories” expansion pack for The Sims 4 won’t be released in Russia, publisher Electronic Arts said. That’s due to a “gay-propaganda” law in the country that would have meant the pack’s “storytelling would be subject to changes because of federal laws.”

The pack, set to launch elsewhere on February 17, features a storyline taking players through a romantic relationship between Dominique and Camille, “a couple whose love knows no boundaries,” as EA puts it (and as can be seen in the official trailer for the pack). In an announcement posted Wednesday, The Sims development team writes that “as we moved through our development and brand storytelling process, we became aware that the way we wanted to tell Cam and Dom’s story would not be something we could freely share around the world.”

That’s an oblique reference to Russia’s Article 6.13.1 law, which was passed in 2013 to prohibit “propaganda or homosexualism among minors.” The law has previously been used in attempts to quiet youth protesters in the country and even to target Russians using the “same-sex kiss” emoji.

Back in 2016, Russian members of parliament also accused EA’s popular soccer sim FIFA 17 of violating the law. That’s because the game included references to FIFA’s real-world rainbow laces campaign in support of LGTBQ+ inclusion.

“The core of what we do”

Rather than change the content in “My Wedding Stories” or create a new version that conforms with the Russian law, the developers left the game as is, which “regrettably… means that members of The Sims community in Russia will not be able to purchase this game pack,” EA said.

“The ability to tell stories—any story—is at the core of what we do at The Sims,” the developer wrote in its announcement. “Holding back Cam and Dom’s story meant compromising the values we live by. We are committed to the freedom to be who you are, to love who you love, and tell the stories you want to tell.”

Same-sex relationships have been possible to varying degrees in The Sims franchise going back to its creation in 2000. The game’s first demo at 1999’s Electronic Entertainment Expo even famously included an unplanned same-sex kiss that helped draw attention to the title.

Those in-game relationships were not always identical to heterosexual partnerships, though; The Sims 2 included “joined unions” for same-sex couples, for instance, a distinction that modders quickly worked to change. The Sims 3 eventually allowed players to call a same-sex partner “husband” or “wife” in 2009, six years before the US Supreme Court made such marriages legal across the country.

EA’s decision on this matter comes as the company also works to introduce customizable pronouns into The Sims 4, a first for the series. That effort, first announced last May, is being made partly in response to an online petition that drew over 22,000 signatories agreeing that the addition “would be impactful for those of us who are still unable to truly feel represented in the game by having our sims selves misgendered.”

While The Sims team hasn’t offered any details regarding when that update may be released, a January livestream included a detailed update on the internal development already in progress. EA has said its pronoun update is focusing on English to start, with similar changes for the game’s other 17 official languages to be “added and supported as we continue to update and improve over time.”



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