Developers Add New Skin Features to The Sims 4

Posted by on Feb 22, 2024 in People and Culture, Stuff You Should Know

Developers of The Sims 4 recently updated the options in the video game to give players the choice of adding a skin condition, known as vitiligo, to their characters’ appearance. The Sims is a popular series of video games where players create and control characters in a life simulation.  

What is Vitiligo? 

Vitiligo (vit•ill•EYE•go) is a disease that causes the skin to lose its natural color, or pigmentation, in irregularly shaped patches. Vitiligo can happen to anyone at any age, but it starts in early childhood for many people. The condition is not contagious nor life-threatening, and it is more common in people with a family history of vitiligo. The Vitiligo Research Foundation estimates there are around 100 million people worldwide with vitiligo. 

Different types of vitiligo affect where and how many patches form on the body. Some people with vitiligo may have patches only on the face and hands, while others may have areas on many parts of the body. These patches can be white, pink, or varying shades lighter than the surrounding skin. The areas with pigmentation loss can spread and change over time. 

Woman with vitiligo skin condition is working on computer from home, wearing headphones.
The Sims 4 has added a vitiligo option for character designs.

Players Request More Diversity 

The Sims 4 software publisher Electronic Arts reported there were more than 70 million players of The Sims 4 worldwide in 2023. Many of these players requested vitiligo skin features for their characters. Some players had even created vitiligo skin covers, or overlays, that could be downloaded and added to characters in the game. However, these user-created skins had limited options.  

Adding Inclusive Options 

Developers for The Sims 4 wanted to design accurate representations of vitiligo for players to apply to their characters. They worked with model Winnie Harlow, a famous model with vitiligo, to help deepen their understanding of the condition. The developers created many patterns and shapes that players can apply across various parts of their characters’ bodies. The affected skin can be many shades lighter than the surrounding skin, and vitiligo can affect people with all skin colors. So, developers worked to make adjustable shades. For the current release, developers made 61 different vitiligo modifications. Developers also ensured the patterns would expand and change as the video game character ages.   

Other video games, such as Minecraft and The Outer Worlds, also offer vitiligo skin options when creating characters. Some games also allow players to choose characters who have vitiligo. As players seek to create characters that more accurately reflect who they are, game developers are listening and working to provide more options.  

Dig Deeper Learn more about Winnie Harlow and her advocacy for the vitiligo community.  Write a summary of what you learn.