I haven't played the computer game The Sims since The Sims 2 was a thing, so I'm pretty far behind the times. However, I was always a little irritated that moms and dads could only bottle-feed their babies. There's nothing wrong with bottles, of course, but not every parent chooses that, and as many teens play the game, it would have been nice for them to see that option as a part of normal game play. "Have a baby, give it a bottle" is a pretty common way of raising kids, and while breastfeeding rates are on the rise, some normal depiction of it within a video game would do some good.
Breastfeeding did appear in the standalone title The Sims Medieval, where bottles were not an option (as they really weren't, in medieval times). Now Sim moms can actually breastfeed their babies in The Sims 4. It is included it into normal game play for the first time in a main title, which is really sweet.
But wait a minute. When I saw a little video clip of a mom nursing her baby, I noticed that the breastfeeding scene goes on behind censorship pixels. The same kind that pops up when a Sim pees, poops, takes a shower or gets dressed.
While I'm happy that it's finally an option, why on earth is it censored? I'm no game and graphic design master, but I don't see how it would have been difficult to bring the baby to Mom's chest without exposing even a slice of breast. Is it the potential virtual nip slip that has the game designers on edge, or do they think that breastfeeding is literally like peeing and pooping?
Either way, it's both a step in the right direction and completely dumb. The Sims 4, like the other games in the Sims series, is rated for teens on up, and that is an age group where things like casual no-big-deal breastfeeding could potentially make a positive impression on future moms and dads. Breastfeeding doesn't scar children for life, and in fact, seeing it in a normal setting can help break down the notion that breastfeeding is something that should be done under the cover of a blanket, behind a door or behind carefully-constructed pixels.
I checked Twitter for buzz on breastfeeding Sims and was amused to find the following back when the breastfeeding option was announced. It seems to address the notion that breastfeeding around other Sims might make them uncomfortable:
@SimGuruLyndsay Will the baby bottles in TS4 finally be white, instead of green?!— Hayley Marie (@thatsimsgirl) June 18, 2014
@SimGuruLyndsay will they do it anywhere? And will it affect other sims moods in the area?— ShouldIbeVacuuming? (@GamingHousewife) June 18, 2014
Breastfeeding acceptance, particularly in public and apparently within video games, still has quite a ways to go. I'm sure that someone will come out with a mod that eliminates the pixels, and we may be completely horrified as to what's going on under there (I really just think it's a mom holding her baby to her clothed chest). But maybe, just maybe, when The Sims 5 is released years from now, they won't make their mommy Sims cover up when they nurse their babies.
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