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Women behind The Sims - SimGurus' answers to International Women's Day Q&A

EA_MaiEA_Mai Posts: 1,800 EA Staff (retired)
You sent in your questions, now get ready for a long read: SimGurus answered a good bunch and they had a lot to say!

I will be short, just a quick note before leaving you with them: some questions were duplicated, so don't be surprised if you find yours (or a very similar one) worded differently. If you sent several different questions in the same comment, keep in mind that we divided them into individual questions.

We have organized the questions/answers into three categories:

A woman...
- working in games
- working at EA / on The Sims
- as a gamer/Simmer

Keep reading to see what our SimGurus had to say!
Post edited by EA_Mai on


  • EA_MaiEA_Mai Posts: 1,800 EA Staff (retired)
    How it is being part of the game development, specially in an area that has always been dominated by men? Do you feel this is changing?
    This is most definitely changing. While I know that we have a game where we benefit from having all genders, ages, and backgrounds working on our team, I can see more women working in game development everywhere in the industry. There are definitely places where it's more challenging, but EA is honestly pretty amazing when it comes to being a woman in games. We as a company are very focused on being diverse, and it's something that shows in the number of events, programs, and groups that EA is a part of.

    For the young ladies out there that want to someday have a job like yours do you have any suggestions on where they should start?
    How's it being a SimGuru and how can we get to be one? Thanks for answering! Lots of simhugs and simkisses!
    My advice on how to get started: depending on your interest, you can look at what groups or organizations in your area mentor girls in roles for development. For example, in the United States, we have Girls Who Code, which is a fantastic program for high school girls to get paired up with mentors in the area that work in games or software development in general. I would start looking up possible groups or organizations like that to see if you can join, with your parent's permission if you are too young of course. Depending on what you are interested in doing within the industry (art, engineering, etc.), I would say start looking at basic tutorials. There are a bunch of free resources online to start looking into.

    On being a SimGuru in the future... I would say, depending on your craft, try to be an ""expert"" on it, but also learn what the other disciplines do and how it all works together. For example, if you want to go into Engineering, learn how Art and Design work together with engineering in projects. Never be afraid to ask and learn how something that it is not your direct responsibility works. Also never be afraid of learning something new, as in new tech and new ways of doing things. Learn to deal with change haha. The reason I say this is because change is something inevitable, and as years go on, the industry evolves and so do development practices. So while it can be challenging to adjust, the way we adjust will determine how it can benefit your team, your studio or what changes need to be made to make it work. Most importantly, be yourself. I know it sounds super corny, but never be afraid of being yourself, because that impacts how you perform or how you do your job and how you would connect with a studio and your teammates.

    Being a SimGuru to me seems a bit surreal. I might not look it, but I'm usually socially awkward and an introvert. I do show myself more extroverted because I do have those moments, especially when talking to teammates or when I'm trying to get the team to solve a problem. But as an introvert, it is a bit surreal to be able to interact with the people that play the game you work on and find out what they like and what they don't like. While it can be a bit overwhelming, it has been very rewarding. I say it has been one of my favorite things about working in the industry for sure. And how to be one, I will leave that a secret, but it involves having managers' approval to make sure they know you are talking to Simmers and it is not an impostor hahaha. Hope my answers helped, thank you!

    Has it been very difficult to get to where you are right now? Has anyone ever put any obstacles in your way for being a woman?
    I've put in a lot of work to get where I am right now in my career. It involved a lot of trial and error, being in jobs that were not a good fit for me, and lots of continuing education outside work as well. Putting in the work was worth it to be able to do work I love with a great team. As far as gender obstacles are concerned, I am very fortunate in the sense that I have not experienced that. I've always felt included during my time in the game industry. No one ever has made me feel uncomfortable or discriminated against in my career because of my gender. If anything, I feel like companies I have worked for went out of their way to ask me my opinions because I represented a different voice on the team.

    Have you had any difficulties that were caused by your gender in what i can imagine is a male dominated career? If so how have you overcome them?
    Years ago before I started at EA, I had an odd situation in a workplace environment where a producer and I had a disagreement and he raised his voice at me in front of several people in the office. It was during crunch time so it was 10pm, it was late, and we were tired, but still not professional. So far, that has been the tensest moment for me in my career, but I have always wondered: would he have done that if I were a man? There's really no way to know, but I still think about it. I do believe that a lot of it had to do with the situation. It was a very tense time for everyone and we were in uncharted territory in our project at the time, in danger of missing a deadline, so it is very possible he would have snapped even if I was male.

    But, despite that, the fact that I have been wondering all these years ""would he have treated me differently if I was a man?"" isn't great because it shows us there is definitely at least some feeling still about the topic and unresolved issues. While he did not ever apologize to me, the CEO of the company did personally which I appreciated. Years later I learned that several other people who had worked with the producer in question had a lot of difficulty with him, and they were all males, so it is possible he treated everyone equally poorly, but no one ever mentioned being yelled at in front of a team of engineers.

    In answer to the second part of your question about how to overcome these thoughts of potential inequality: in that particular situation I took a few days off work to cope with the stress and checked into a hotel for a few days and ordered a bunch of room service! (HA!!!! True story.) But that's not a great way to deal with everything. Since that experience, I try to have a positive attitude about things and remind myself that I am a valuable employee and my opinions and work are just as important as those of any man that I work with. I work hard, and I think EA as a company is great at recognizing and valuing their employees.

    Also, I feel like a majority of game companies recognize that there are fewer female employees than males, and EA does a good job of making sure their voices are heard. They recognize that not all players are men and they really value their female players. I hear that even in high-level meetings.

    Even at the company where I had the disagreement with the producer I mentioned earlier, aside from him, the company valued me and my work. We had a lead female game designer there who was/is amazing and one of the best I have ever worked with! No one ever disrespected her or dared try.

    What was the highlight of your career?
    Honestly, this might sound super cheesy, but my personal highlight of my career is actually where I am right now. Particularly assisting with the Maxis Favs selection and, linked to this, checking your reactions the next day. To see the joy, the surprise and compliments on the Gallery, the forum or on Twitter is something that truly makes my day. I even save all of these as bookmarks and whenever there is a bad day (which happens very very rarely) I look at your posts, tweets & comments and it returns sunshine to my day immediately. 😊

    [Your job] Is it a full-time job or do you have another job aside? What are your daily tasks?
    For most (all?) of us, working on The Sims is a full-time job, and there is certainly plenty of work to go around! We keep very busy creating new experiences for our players. However, we do have many teammates with "side hustles" for other kinds of projects they may be passionate about.

    As a Producer, my daily tasks include finding answers to development questions (I basically run around so that my teammates can stay focused on their work), prioritizing and scoping our development tasks and bugs, and working with our partners outside the immediate dev team such as marketing, business intelligence, and community.
  • EA_MaiEA_Mai Posts: 1,800 EA Staff (retired)
    Has EA been kind with work-share, work from home, part time work and similar opportunities? One of the biggest issues that forced me out of software industry was the fact that if you're a woman that wants a family, or a woman with a disability, you got to act like one of the men and sacrifice your desires in a full time office environment with overtime hours required. I would like to hear from women in EA if they feel better treated, similar, did they have to make sacrifices to work the jobs that they do and do they regret their career choices.
    One of my main concerns for any woman is equal opportunity and equal pay. Do the women in your company have access to both, not only in Maxis but in EA as well? Do you have access to childcare, paid maternity leave, and a harassment-free environment?
    Yes, absolutely. I can only speak about Maxis, but I personally work with teams that are remote by nature, and within the game team we do have team members that are remote. While there are challenging parts of this, like making sure we are all on the same page, that we are not forgetting to talk about a thing, and making sure there is some face time, I believe we do a pretty good job on working together efficiently and we try to improve more on it to try to make it as seamless as possible. We do have a variety of roles where sometimes, depending on the nature of the role, it is desirable for that person to be in the office, but it is not related to gender, it is more of whatever needs a studio has and how they need to communicate with the team.

    For me in my career, being a woman has not meant that I have to sacrifice my life to progress in my career, or it doesn't affect the role I have. I think any time I felt like I needed to work a lot with less free time, it has been my choice and the situation itself needed me to do that, but not because of my gender.

    I don't have children, but EA does have childcare available, and maternity/paternity leave, I think, though that part of the question is more suited for other Gurus that have children, sorry. As a work community though, part of our company and studio culture is to have everyone be respected and heard, it is a big part of how we work and create community in the workplace. Hope this helped answer your questions! Thanks!

    I feel like we often see women in graphics or communication teams in videogame. What about the development and programming teams for The Sims? Are there women in all sectors of the videogame industry, and what are the proportions/percentages?
    Videogames are often made and animated by men, is The Sims an exception?
    I can see where this question comes from because when I was looking to get into the industry, I saw this as well and was pleasantly surprised when I joined Maxis to see that there are a lot of women in this industry. But yes, absolutely, so I can only speak for The Sims in terms of numbers, since every company and game studio is different and has variations of the roles within the main disciplines. But I can say that I have a lot of peers in the industry that are female in a variety of roles and disciplines.

    I would say it is hard to see who and how many people work in a game just by social media alone or who is "visible", if you will. There are so many people that work in game studios and they are not normally in the spotlight, so to speak, and that is their personal choice. A lot of people have other ways to talk about their work and experience that may not be just being on social media or gameplay videos and livestreams. A lot of us volunteer and mentor in the area we live or work in for example. Some even give classes, or talks at events. Hope this helps answer your question, thank you!

    We are a fairly well-rounded studio. While it isn't a perfect 50/50, we have a lot of female team members and a lot of those are in Animation too.

    How high up the ladder is the highest ranking woman on EA/Sims team? Are women relegated more to the bottom positions, or is EA equal opportunity?
    1) Is your boss a woman?
    2) Is her boss a woman?
    3) How about hers?
    4) Regardless of level, are you paid the same as your male peers, just like in the game?
    And if you're a higher-up and the answers to these questions are mostly no, why not?
    A woman (SimGuruLyndsay) is the head of the Sims team!
    In general we are well dispersed throughout the team as far as position. There might be a few women in our more junior positions, and this is not because they are not good enough, but more because we are hiring more women, so when we open up positions we are getting a great selection of potential applicants. They're just starting their journey with us and I hope that they will continue.

    My boss is Male, his boss is Male, his boss is Female, her boss is Male, his boss is Female, her boss is Female, and her boss is Male and the CEO.
    To the best of my knowledge and experience, I am paid as much as my male peers within Production. There are other jobs within the studio that do pay more, and again, from what has been discussed, my friends who are female are getting paid the same as their peers.

    How does it work, for women and men to work together in a mixed world, reality of producing content and exploring an imaginative world. Do women have advantages for this, like beeing better at connecting the 2 dimmensions?
    Especially for a franchise like The Sims, there is huge benefit in getting a mix of personal experiences from a wide variety of people; all genders, cultures, and ethnicities have something valuable to offer. As well-intentioned as a dev may be to represent others in game, you'll never be able to represent someone else as well as they can represent themselves. This is why it is really vital to have a wide range of representation on our team itself, so that we can better translate those experiences as gameplay for our players. You can imagine that pregnancy or getting ready at the vanity may not have been as authentic as they are in game without the input from women on our team.

    Does working on the game and knowing all the tricks ruin a bit the satisfaction or excitement to play it?
    Not at all for me! It's a fun way to learn even more about the game and just how many little neat easter eggs or fun things get added. Sometimes we can get focused on the specifics of what we are working on, which means we still find surprises. Also, sometimes we don't work on every single pack, so some packs are still fresh and new when we get to play them which is still just as fun for me as it was before I was working on the game.

    As a female Sim Guru, are there any game play features that have turned out differently due to your female perspective compared to how they might have originally been envisioned?
    I don't know if anything core to a feature has changed specifically because of my female perspective, but I do know that when we did the acting career that we realized that we needed to make adjustments to hair and makeup for different skin tones. We were setting up for an early internal demo and I realized that the hair and makeup I chose wasn't going to look good with all skin tones. While we did a demo with a specific Sim, we knew that players were going to be using all different types of Sims and we wanted it to work for all of them. After that we set up looks for multiple categories of skin tones, and tried to make choices that would look good on all of the skin tones in each group.

    Do we have Dutch speaking SimGurus?
    Not currently. SimGuruMaaike was our Dutch SimGuru, but she has moved on to another project so her account is inactive.

    Is it cool working on sims games?
    To me, yes! I think The Sims is such a special game for a lot of people. It is even more special to me as I grew up playing the original games, and now I actually get to work on them, which is still a bit surreal. I know how much it helped influence me as a young person, and I feel humbled to be a part of the possibility to do that for players today. Since I’m an artist on the team, it's incredibly weird/humbling/heartwarming to see people share screenshots of any objects I may have worked on. I am grateful to work on such an inclusive game that strives to be different and with people who feel the same way.

    What motivated you to become a SimGuru?
    When I first started as a tester, I had a couple of women Producers that I looked up to and was inspired by. I'd see their passion for the community and I did my best to learn from them. They both enabled me to become more confident and gave me opportunities to grow. I saw them interact with the community and I knew that was something I wanted to do. And here I am! I cried when I was made a Guru. It was very special for me! I couldn't have done it without their examples and support.
  • EA_MaiEA_Mai Posts: 1,800 EA Staff (retired)
    What led you to become a gamer and was your choice accepted by your peers (parents, partner...)?
    My parents have been amazing. They already loved games before I was born, so I got an easy route (I shared a picture of me as a toddler playing on the computer on Twitter a few years ago). We played games together as I grew up and still play World of Warcraft together 3 nights a week; my dad is the guild leader, and my mom is the raid leader. My mom loves sharing what I work on with their friends, and she always shares the livestreams when I'm on them in our Discord channel. My sister and I used to sit up in our library and play through adventure games together, but as I got older I started playing more by myself. I got my first Game Boy when I was 9, and with each iteration, I took it with me most places I went.

    My parents were indeed the ones introducing me and my two brothers to gaming when they brought home a Game Boy with Tetris. The place where me and my family lived when I was a kid was outside of town, so my options were very limited when it came to the amount of other kids to play with. Actually, there were no other girls of my age, so I used to play with my 2 brothers and their friends, and for them it was all about gaming, as it was for me, naturally, because I did not know it any other way. That was also the time I started playing PC games and the game that I loved the most back then was Roller Coaster Tycoon.

    I remember that secondary school was indeed less fun, as I was the only girl in our entire year who played video games and girls of my age were still considering it to be a “boys” thing. Based on this, I was kind of an outcast with not many friends in school. So yep, I guess you can say that my gaming passion was not well accepted by my peers. But even though these times might not be the ones that I look back on happily, it taught me something very valuable: you gotta follow your passion and do what makes you happy without worrying about what others might think about it. Because, exactly those people who try to make you believe that you’re different, odd, weird or nerdy, they won’t be a part of your life forever. One day you will be done with school and you won’t be confronted with their judgement any longer. You will be able to make your own decisions, where you want to go, where you want to live, meet up with people that you want to meet and who share your passion. It will get better, so much better, and, in the end, you will see how insignificant mean schoolgirls’ opinions can really be.

    I have to say that basically curiosity really, haha. My brother, being the oldest, had access to a computer and gaming consoles and I was always by his side, so once I started to express interest, he started teaching me how they worked and what games I could play. That is also how I learned to code for the first time—my brother was into coding and learned BASIC at around 6 years old haha. My parents had no issues as long as my academics were on target. Sure, there were times they didn't understand why I liked it, but they never opposed. So my gaming was never a detriment to my family's dynamics hahaha.

    When I said I wanted to work in games, my parents were not sure how that would work out at first. My parents did not understand the industry at the time. Back in my home country, being in video games was not the norm and the way the industry works was not super well known, so they would be concerned every once in a while if I was stable financially, if the workload was ok, etc. But they were very supportive and asked questions on how things worked. I still get the occasional call from my mum like "Are you eating well?" hahaha. My partner shares my passion for gaming, even though he is in a different industry, he likes that he can relax and play games with me every once in a while.

    I think my immediate circle, if you will, understands it is what I wanted to do and what I also do on part of my free time as I continue to play games while working in the industry, so I think they are happy about me following my passion.

    My dad often commented (not incorrectly) that Sims was "playing Barbies" for grown-ups. And certainly my vast Barbie empire prepared me for not only sims but my larger work life in general.
    So what did you play with as a kid that prepared you for simming/working in your field?
    I had a dollhouse when I was growing up that I loved and would spend hours playing with. I would constantly make up stories about the residents of the dollhouse (who were not actually dolls but little animal toys). So, even before The Sims, I think I wanted The Sims.

    As far as playing computer games, I used to play tons of "point-n-click" style adventure games. Those were my favorites. I spent tons of time playing them, taking in the stories, puzzle designs, and also noticing how fun it was to be immersed in another world. When The Sims came out, I started playing that too and never stopped. That definitely prepared me for Simming! I still remember moments from when I first played, including getting a weird prank phone call. I just remember thinking how much humor and detail were in the game, even in the early stages, it was impressive...and fun!

    P.S, I used to play with Barbies too and would make them do the macarena. This was in the 90s so you might have to google it. Good times!

    Do you like playing sims games?
    I love playing Sims games. I've played since Sims 1! It has seen me through every life stage. I play at home as well. Mainly because:
    1. I genuinely enjoy playing it and have always felt a connection to it.
    2. It helps me at work! The more I understand the game, the easier it is to do my job.

    The moderation on Twitch or any other streaming platform is important to eliminate inappropriate and sexist remarks, did you ever experience these?
    As an avid gamer for many years now, I have definitely encountered these kinds of hurtful comments many times. While they are still a prevalent issue, I have high hopes for the near future. We see a lot more women and girls playing all kinds of different games these days, which was less common when I was growing up. In fact, women make up nearly half of all gamers now. I think it's important to find the communities that accept women as gamers, and try not to let the rude and intolerant ones ruin your passions.

    As women, are you favorite sims female or male?
    I think I have a slight preference towards our female characters, but I do have a few male ones that I love. Maybe a 3:1 ratio of female to male.

    How many times do you play The Sims at work? Do you prefer building houses or playing with the sims?
    Producers play the game as much as we can while at work, although it's mostly to catch bugs and see how well all of the pieces of the game play together. On my own time, I really enjoy creating Sims in CAS. Often I base them on my own original characters, or sometimes I like creating characters from books, and celebrities.
  • GurlSimmer62GurlSimmer62 Posts: 4 New Member
    I'm glad we take this time to recognize all these women who are under appreciated and not thanked enough. I'm new here, but I adore the attention and appreciation women get here. smiley
  • EgonVMEgonVM Posts: 3,509 Member
    edited March 2020
    That was an interesting read.
    There's one thing I can say: keep up the good work! :)
    You can never discover The Sims games 100%. Even when you think you know everything, the game manages to surprise you.
    That's why I do experiments in the game from time to time and tutorial videos on YouTube.
  • ElliDiLoElliDiLo Posts: 25 Member
    Having a more diverse and balanced workplace can only mean a better product. So glad times seem to be changing for the better! Thank you ladies for sharing this.
  • zensluvzensluv Posts: 87 Member
    Thank you for sharing your experiences and for your passion to the game!
    Find my builds at #zensluv4real
  • Simmer4Ever2020Simmer4Ever2020 Posts: 14 New Member
    Hi I am new started December 2019 with The Sims on playstation 2 then Sims 4 on xbox one then sims 3 on steam waiting to get sims 2 heard about new packs on the sims 4 can't wait also heard about sims 5 can't wait on that too.
  • Tinkerbelle2Tinkerbelle2 Posts: 29 Member
    This was really interesting to read. It must be such a cool job! 😊
  • ThemissingribThemissingrib Posts: 1 New Member
    My question is, Does EA plan on doing an "International Men's Day?" Men are great and I would like some items on just for men. EA could make a men's day just to honor all the dads, brothers, uncles, grandfathers out there that play the sims :) Women can have any job they want in the EA field, men and women are equally smart.
  • Unicronplayz37Unicronplayz37 Posts: 3 New Member
    So I have been looking at all the posts, and ink I might have an idea for women's day, if their were any celebrities made into sims that were women, we could gather them together, and BAM!!! And we could have them create girl and woman sims to put in the sims games!!!!!
  • SvineprutterSvineprutter Posts: 1,895 Member
    @EA_Mai @SimGuruDana
    I never thought something like this would happen, so thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. :)
    The more we talk, the better our world will become. :)
  • tmcevoy1121tmcevoy1121 Posts: 304 Member
    My question is, Does EA plan on doing an "International Men's Day?" Men are great and I would like some items on just for men. EA could make a men's day just to honor all the dads, brothers, uncles, grandfathers out there that play the sims :) Women can have any job they want in the EA field, men and women are equally smart.

    This would be a good idea. I think especially as of late Men do need to recognize what they do as well. I know some will disagree with this but I think we should start recognizing everyone, not just a selective few.
    A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous. A girl should also always be a lady even when arguing
  • dyss_alexia666dyss_alexia666 Posts: 3 New Member
    I've been playing sims for 8 years as I started when I was 7 (maybe not the best idea in some ways), and I'm just now finding the Sims Forums! This is actually the first thread I've read, but it gave a lot of insight into the women that make up the sims team! I've been curious about what it's like to be part of the whole process, and as a girl this was really nice to read :) thank you for your hard work, I can't wait to see what's to come.
  • 1plus1plus11plus1plus1 Posts: 1 New Member
    This is my first time commenting on any forum. After reading this thread, I decided (away with fear). I am a young female engineer who has worked in technology companies and currently with defense over the past few years in my career. It is exciting to see and hear how other sectors have evolved and accepted the value of a female perspective. In government work, it is still rigid. Especially in engineering. However, it is to our advantage and privilege to demonstrate men and women everywhere that our talents are unique and just as important. I started playing Sims, when the first one came out, with my sisters. The games evolved and we did too. There are still constraints and mindsets to be changed in both the business and governments areas, but it's good to know that at least in some places, females engineers love their jobs. Great thread. Now off to play Sims 4! :blush:
  • BeanieBruhBeanieBruh Posts: 3 New Member
    In accordance with the rules on necroposting: "That means bumping a conversation that has naturally ended or posting without adding new info would be necroposting (for example, just saying "cool" in a thread that has been quiet for 2 years)."

    I am adding new information to this thread as a legitimate concern as this pertains to Women's Day Q&A and is the only topic I can locate related to my query using the search feature. I'm not able to create a new thread so I'd like clarification here.

    It would be wonderful to not ignore the men who contribute to sims as well yet I cannot find any inspiring topics by the men of this community in relation to International Men's Day. Why is that Sims only celebrates women's day and ignores men's day? Isn't that a form of discrimination on the basis of sex (rule violation)? If we are celebrating one sex why not be inclusive to both instead of making half of the community feel left out?


    In my opinion we should either leave politics out of the Sims and celebrate neither sex or represent both sexes for the sake of equality. Thoughts?
  • Sunflowergal227Sunflowergal227 Posts: 196 Member
    Interesting read! Thanks for all the women (and men as well) for making the sims as we see them today. Also to all women, women power! we can do anything that we put our minds to. Also, i think it is time for me to learn coding.
    Favorite EP/SP
    Sims 2 (All EPs/SPs)
    Sims 3 Showtime
    Sims 3 Generations
    My Sims 3 profile page: https://mypage.thesims3.com/mypage/Sunflowergal227
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