One of the devs at EA, Anna Machata, speaks up about their decision to include social anxiety in The Sims 4. A socially awkward Sim will struggle more to interact, but they will receive rewards for successfully doing so.
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Anna Machata, a game designer at EA, explains that the goal for The Sims has always been inclusion. Considering there are many neurodivergent players, including the option to give Sims social anxiety should allow for more players to identify more closely with their Sims. “I think this trait will allow players to play out their traits and anxieties in the safety of this game,” Machata explains.
Furthermore, this will give those who do not struggle with social anxiety a window into the struggles of someone who does. “It will also allow other non-disabled players to sympathize and understand players with disabilities and hopefully create meaningful conversations and change,” Machata elaborates.
What Went Into the Decision to Add Social Anxiety
Machata discusses the process of how she came to the decision to add this attribute and why. “We have all been socially awkward at one point and time, and given our current pandemic climate, social anxiety and anxiety in general is on the rise among teens,” they explain. According to Machata, they worked based off their own experiences, but also with internal mental health groups within the company to conduct research.
How the Social Anxiety Component Will Impact the Game
There will reportedly be new challenges and deeper relationships with other Sims that socially awkward Sims interact with. Sims with the socially awkward trait will feel anxious in most social situations, and they will be able to act in a way that reflects those feelings. When they do choose to interact with other Sims or engage in a social environment, they will gain “big rewards.”
Benefits of a Socially Awkward Sim
Earlier this year, Sentiments were introduced to The Sims 4. Sentiments are essentially emotions that Sims feel towards each other. These sentiments are tracked, and they determine your relationships in the game. With socially awkward Sims, their interactions are more likely to fail than other Sims who are not socially awkward. However, the socially awkward Sims will gain more positive Sentiments and receive more positive buffs when they choose to respond to a unique social event. As the socially awkward Sim becomes more confident, they will gain “a more unique, deep, and permanent relationship than other Sims that do not have this trait.”
If you want to read more about the details behind this new attribute, you can visit the official site for The Sims 4 here.