Animal Crossing has long been a haven for self expression and comfort in games; an experience where the “point” was more about creative choice than progression. In honor of this past Trans Day of Visibility (March 31), I want to outline the improvements Nintendo has built for any person interested in experimenting with their gender identity or expression.
Originally, the ability to cross gender boundaries in Animal Crossing was limited. In New Leaf (released in 2012) players were finally able to put any kind of clothing onto their character. Before that, if a male character tried to wear a dress it would become a shirt with the same pattern and vice versa. Since the release of New Leaf, questioning people have taken to the game as a tool for experimenting with different forms of expression. Whether through their clothes or interior design, New Leaf gave many their first taste of gender experimentation without shame or fear. New Horizons, the most recent title in the series, has taken great steps to build on this experience. In New Horizons the gender of your character (in my testing) only affects the starting clothes you have—none of which strongly signify to a gender. All the villagers use they/them pronouns to refer to you and other players regardless of your choices. Ensuring that genderfluid individuals are referred to in a way that makes them comfortable no matter what! Players can also use mirrors any time to change their entire look and gender, giving them endless freedom to experiment. The game is about a romanticized version of life where you have a whole town to build your personal relaxation zone. These additions help to expand that reality to more players than ever before. Hopefully these changes will bring more folks of all kinds into the wildly accepting Animal Crossing community and help give all of us a little more peace during quarantine.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment