The Sims is diversifying, giving players the option to create characters outside the traditional male and female constructs.

Previously, players had to choose between characters with traditionally masculine or feminine traits, but they'll now have the option of creating characters with all types of physiques, walking styles, voices and aesthetics.

It's the first time the game's creators have opened up gender customisation since it debuted in February, 2000.

EA and Maxis said players will now have access to the 700 pieces of content previously available to only male or female Sims, regardless of gender.

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The studio said it wanted to "make sure players can create characters they can identify with or relate to through powerful tools that give them influence over a Sims' gender, age, ethnicity, body type and more."

The Sims 4 executive producer Rachel Franklin told Associated Press the update -made in collaboration with LGBT advocacy group GLAAD - had been a year in the making.

Now, she says, "female Sims can wear sharp men's suits like Ellen (DeGeneres), and male Sims can wear heels like Prince".

Players can also change their Sims' gender at any time and specify whether they can reproduce with other characters.

The Sims has always included same-sex relationship options, but gay marriage was not introduced until 2009.

The new changes will come via a free update which will be made available this week for The Sims 4 and its expansion packs.