EA and developer Maxis have patched The Sims 4 and for the first time in the beloved simulation series' history removed gender barriers, meaning players are able to create any new character as they wish – with any voice or physique they choose.

A Sim's gender can now also be switched during the game, as can a setting on their ability to reproduce with others. Until now, the 16-year-old series has prevented users from attributing various aesthetic options, such as clothing or hair styles, to specific genders.

Over 700 items that were previously restricted have now been made accessible across the board in The Sims 4 and its various expansions, meaning transgender characters can now be more easily, and more realistically created in the game.

The Sims 4 executive producer Rachel Franklin revealed to Associated Press that Maxis had been working on the changes for over a year, adding that "female Sims can wear sharp men's suits like Ellen [DeGeneres], and male Sims can wear heels like Prince." Franklin also says that the team worked with LGBT advocacy group GLAAD during development of the update.

Senior Producer Lyndsay Pearson has confirmed on Twitter that the update won't affect NPC characters automatically-generated by the game, which occupy the same game as Sims created by the player.

EA's famed original, launched in 2000, allowed same sex relationships in a move that proved controversial at the time. It wasn't until 2009's The Sims 3 that same sex marriage was added to the game. The Sims 4 was released on PC in 2014.

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