'The Sims' Becomes An Outlet For Would-Be Protesters Who Cannot Attend Protests

from the march-on-simcity dept

As the country continues to witness massive protests throughout the states, focused on changing the way policing is done in the country, it’s useful to remember that not everyone can protest in the streets. Even for those who would love to carry the message that police violence against minorities, or really anyone, is massively out of control, there are factors that might keep them home. Such as a global pandemic that has been addressed by the federal government like a little league shortstop kicking a ball around without being able to pick it up. See, there are a great many people in this country that are either at higher risk for devastating effects from COVID-19, or who are immunocompromised. Where do they go in 2020 to protest these problems?

Well, thanks to the outlet that is gaming in the era of COVID-19, they go protest in The Sims, of course.

With this in mind, Sims modder and streamer Danielle “EbonixSims” Udogaranya kicked off an in-game Black Lives Matter rally last weekend. Days later, it’s still going. For this rally, she encouraged players to give their favorite Sims Black Lives Matter signs and accessories, some of which she created in 2016, and either photograph or video them protesting police violence against Black people by gathering together, holding signs, and generally behaving as they would at a real-life protest. She spread the word across Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, where players have pooled their protests using the #BLMSimsRally hashtag.

And why the hell shouldn’t The Sims be used in this way? If EA’s game is supposed to be an escape of real life by living a virtual one, it seems only fitting that this simulacrum should carry over into activism as well. And Udogaranya did this specifically with those who cannot attend protests due to the COVID-19 pandemic in mind, along with those who may not be able to attend due to being disabled, or for other reasons.

Players who participated appreciated this tremendously.

“This my life, what is happening in the world,” Sims streamer Luna Marie told Kotaku in an email. “With covid going on, my immune system is a little weaker, so going out is iffy for me. When I saw this, I thought this was perfect to take something I stand for and what I love and do both.”

Marie’s experience was unique in that The Sims’ systems coalesced around her stream. Her Black Lives Matter rally triggered other Sims to hold a city protest, a game feature in which Sims wave signs and stage their own spontaneous rally. They held this one in the name of equality.

And just like the IRL protests, protests in The Sims is being attended by people from all over the world.

Video games get a fair amount of shit in our society, but it’s important to remember that they are an outlet. An outlet for entertainment, for stress relief, for aggression, and even for social movements. All the more so, in fact, as games become more about the interconnected community playing them than about what occurs in the mechanics of the game itself.

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Comments on “'The Sims' Becomes An Outlet For Would-Be Protesters Who Cannot Attend Protests”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Black Youth

We’re sending the wrong message to our black youth. We’re telling them that it’s okay that they can run from the police, they can take a weapon from the police, they can fight with the police and point a weapon at the police and expect nothing to happen. That is the wrong message to send to black youth.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Considering the body counts

The police kill more black civilians than vice versa. I think it sends exactly the right message.

Law enforcement has become an enemy of the people, a higher caste of citizen that they sustain by force.

They don’t protect or serve. They harass, rob and murder.

It’s time to disband them, and replace them with systems that were not developed by slave-hunters and thief-takers.

Anonymous Coward says:

hmmm people can protest in games. And that may be an ‘outlet’. However from an authoritarian point of view, isn’t that the perfect place? I doubt post people in places of power care at all if people are protesting in a game. It’s too divorced from their already unhinged reality.

While it’s good that people who should not be out and about have a alternative, it looks suspiciously like the alternative might be completely ineffective (which isn’t so good at all).

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
teka says:

Re: Re:

That is a good point, but with the example of China we can see that authoritarians hate the idea of anyone "getting away with things", "beating the system" or "expressing wrongthinking ideas" anywhere at any time*

*unless they have enough money and fame, but not Too much money and fame.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think the point is that games aren’t replacing these things, they’re an added extra. Most of them aren’t stupid, they weight risks. Unlike the "we want a haircut" crowd, those protesting right now are judging their risks and people who are sick, immuno-compromised or otherwise unsafe to protest in the streets shouldn’t lose their ability to have their voice heard.

Whether it’s heard is another point but this isn’t a bunch of people staying indoors because a game is easier. It’s the ones who can’t be out there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Whether it’s heard is another point but this isn’t a bunch of people staying indoors because a game is easier. It’s the ones who can’t be out there.

The first part of this more or less sums up my point very nicely. I do not think this will get their voices heard (Please don’t think I am saying people who are at risk should be out in the streets protesting, I’m not suggesting an alternative, just doubting the effectiveness of this course of action).

It would be great if somehow this made a difference, but as far as I know there is not a sufficient causal link between game events, and the political leaders who would take corrective action.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It would be great if somehow this made a difference, but as far as I know there is not a sufficient causal link between game events, and the political leaders who would take corrective action.

The point of protests ultimately is to draw attention to a problem, the fact that people are upset about it and hopefully get it fixed, and while ‘bunch of people protest in a game’ might not have the same visibility as an in-person protest it can still add to the momentum of those physical protests by making it clear that even those that can’t protest in person are still not happy.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: The ones who can't be out there.

Also, in The Sims no one knows I’m a cat.

Sometimes I have fantasies of a society where so much of societal functionality can be done online, so much work can be telecommuted that people could, if they need, create entirely alternate identities of themselves.

In an ideal world, no one would have to hide in the closet, but the next best thing might be for everyone to have access to one.

Agammamon says:

‘The Sims’ Becomes An Outlet For Would-Be Protesters Who Cannot Attend Protests

More like another ‘thoughts and prayers’. Slacktivism.

cannot attend protests due to the COVID-19 pandemic

But the government has told us that’s ok. Remember – no social gatherings of more than 12 people but protests of 100 are ok.


Remember – you can’t go to the park if you’re Jewish but you can mass together in the streets as long as you carry a sign to protect yourself.


Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:


you can’t go to the park if you’re Jewish but you can mass together in the streets

Three things.

  1. Going to a park isn’t necessarily an expression of one’s First Amendment rights; protesting absolutely is.
  2. Handing out tickets to a handful of people for violating any physical distancing rules at a park is less work, on every level, than trying to arrest and process several hundred — or several thousand — peaceful protesters.
  3. Assume the police tried to arrest even a slim majority of the peaceful protesters we’ve seen on the streets in the past few weeks. Where do you think all those people would/could be held until they’re either released or sent before a judge?
Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Protesting is about risk.

Yes. People engaging in public dissent, and protesting the government are risking infection with COVID-19 (as well as the usual battery of germs that get spread). The risk is added to the other risks that happen when one expresses openly their disagreement with the state, which, despite the right to do so being enshrined in our nation’s Constitution, is not always respected by agents of the state.

At the point the police are shooting at journalists, it is the duty of every able-bodied patriot to go out and protest, if not take arms against those who would shoot at journalists without cause.

The masks are off. We aren’t governed by consent but by force. The police believe they can control the public the way a foreign garrison would, and they’re glad to murder pour encourager les autres

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