Loel Phelps, a design director for The Sims, said his team uses consultants, research and input from employees with diverse backgrounds to decide which foods, and elements of cooking and eating, best fit the spirit of the game.
“The Sims is about real, lived experiences, so once we have a theme or setting, I like to reach out to those around me or explore food trends on Instagram and TikTok,” Mr. Phelps wrote in an email. “What are their favorite iconic dishes? What do people eat for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner in that environment? Why and how do they eat those foods, and do we have the right tools in a virtual kitchen to prepare, serve and eat them?”
Copywriters then create extensive descriptions of those foods, explaining how they’re prepared, as well as the real-world cultures where they originated. Want to learn all about pho, nigiri, choripán? The Sims can be your guide.
Since The Sims might be the first place that some players encounter these foods, it’s important that they’re provided with as accurate and precise a description of the dishes as possible, said Ms. Pearson, the Sims vice president, adding that the game developers would never describe lumpia or banh mi as “just a roll or a sandwich.”
“These mean different things,” she said. “They are made differently. And I think that it’s a way for us to also recognize that variety that exists in the world and say, ‘Yep, we see you.’”
Like reality, the world of The Sims is imperfect. Some of the foods are so pixelated that they aren’t all that appetizing. (“Some of it just looks nasty,” Ms. Sims said.) And most of the dishes that players cook most often — like spaghetti, pancakes, clam chowder and tuna casserole — still reflect a white American palate.