Cast your mind back: You're sitting in front of the shared family computer. It's your allotted hour of 'computer time.' You fire up The Sims. You buy a big heart-shaped vibrating bed for 4,500 Simoleons. And... cue the "WooHoos."
We'd pixelate our crushes and not just make them fall in love with our Sim-selves, but make them attend to our every fantasy. We'd flirt. Make out. WooHoo. Hot tub WooHoo. Shower WooHoo. Hell, we'd even dumpster WooHoo. Before we'd even had our first real-life kiss, our virtual Sim selves were fucking incessantly until they begged us to stop (or died of starvation).
For an entire generation, The Sims was our first real understanding of sex. Whilst we didn't know what was exactly going on behind those sheets, we knew that our Sims growling and barking like dogs while fireworks sprouted from an aggressively moving bed was a sign that something was happening. And we liked it.
The Sims offered us a judgment-free, safe zone for us to explore our own sexuality. Through our computer screens, we could take control of our sexual autonomy — kissing whoever we wanted to kiss, flirting with every neighbor who walked by our house, and yes, WooHooing with every possible Sim (watch out Don Lothario and Bella Goth). Whatever happened in the real world, we took solace that at least we could remain in control of our sexuality in some capacity in the virtual world.
But as adults, The Sims is providing us with inspiration.
Wicked Whims is an adults-only mod (a modification created by other gamers who alter the code of a game) created by TURBODRIVER for The Sims 4. It adds realistic nudity and sexual animations to your standard game. Sex animations — which are essentially porn sequences — are installed onto the game, effectively transforming the WooHoo into a fully-functioning sex doll. From intimate missionary lovemaking to BDSM-inspired handcuffing sequences and dildo play, it has it all. There's also hot shower sex, sexual fantasies, and curiosities — all are on display and accessible with just a few clicks.
We can use the computer screen to explore new kinks, positions and fetishes, trialing them safely through the screen.
But it's not just hot graphic animated sex that the Wicked Whims mod offers us. It's also sexual education. Sims can become pregnant after every sexual encounter that doesn't involve a condom. Sims can have periods and take birth control, featuring an "Early on Birth Control" moodlet that shows the contraception to be less effective in the first few days after it's started. STIs can be contracted and spread to other Sims. Genitalia can be chosen during the Create A Sim process. Here, hyperrealism has been utilized to make the game even more believable and educational, reminding gamers about their own sexual health.
Wicked Whims effectively operates not just as a mod, but as a stepping stone to sexual liberation. We can use the computer screen to explore new kinks, positions, and fetishes, trialing them safely through the screen without supporting porn sites, many of which can be unethical, or finding a sexual partner IRL. We can transfer these to the bedroom, spice up our existing sex lives, and get adventurous. Sexual health can be at the forefront and help us normalize conversations about our own safety. We can explore our own queerdom by ourselves before we're ready to explore it with other people. We can experience the euphoria of seeing our animated selves get it on.
But there's something even more powerful when we investigate why we feel the need to keep our horny obsession with life simulation games a secret for the most part. Inside every teenager playing The Sims, there's the hope that an adult doesn't walk into the room mid-WooHoo. There's the paranoia that their crush will discover they have an entire game dedicated to their imaginary relationship. And for every adult playing The Sims, there's the worry that people will realize that Wicked Whims isn't an expansion pack dedicated to witches.
Porn, for the most part, is a societally accepted manifestation of our sexual desires that we all participate in under the cover of night. But why is it that sexual animations, such as hentai, virtual reality porn, and, yes, video games, seem to carry much more stigma, despite bypassing the potential exploitation of female performers? Most of all, why is it that The Sims sexual content seems to tickle an itch that so many of us have, despite the vast amount of pornography out there?
Well, it might have something to do with the lens through which The Sims seems to see the world. While it wasn't initially intended to be a game made specifically for women, multiple iterations and a dedicated fanbase have solidified it as, arguably, one of the few video games created largely for femmes. In fact, 60% of The Sims 4's audience are women between the ages of 18 and 24. It's therefore easy to understand why many of us have been drawn to it — and have found a space to explore every aspect ourselves there.
We're all steadily claiming back ownership of our sexuality — and have been for a while. It might be time we add video games like The Sims to our sexual repertoire — shame-free and unabashedly. After all, it's been making us blush for the last twenty years.
This story was originally published on Refinery29 Australia.