Gender Policies

Growing up a dual citizen who constantly moved, thereby allowing his family to make up all manner of personal holidays and traditions, who just so happened to realize he was queer pretty early on in his teens–all while being raised by a mother who firmly believed in many feminist principles without necessarily subscribing to their club–identity politics are nothing new to me. Add to that the realization that while I am firmly rooted in being male in sex and will not be seeking to change that fact (considering my alma mater, this may be for the best), I find nothing about me cisgendered. Naturally, part of my degree involved Gender Studies.

Preface what I am about to say with the realization that it is merely an annoyance rather than something over which I am ready to take arms against a sea of troubles. I would like to see the options of character creation actually ask my character’s sex, rather than the gender.

While I would love the inclusion of gender in games, I somehow seriously doubt we will see any consideration of this topic in terms of choosing characters with a sex and gender that do not match (let alone genders beyond just masculine and feminine).

In fact, in a discussion with a friend who loves his ‘trannies,’ we could not recall a transgendered game character. While I realize the gaming culture we may face, I also realize there are some interesting gems, and am merely hoping I’m overlooking something or have just missed an opportunity–y’know, beyond Birdo (who does bring a smile to my face, admittedly). However, her history is a confused one, made doubly so by Nintendo’s not knowing what to do with her for a number of years.

(How can you not smile at a face like that?)

However, considering the number of actual gay or lesbian characters we see in videogames (and what their depictions may be), I somehow imagine that transgendered characters will not be a priority. Especially as we still have some problems with depictions of females in them as well (though I do love me some Samus and Jade). Frankly, it’s an issue that unless it can be done well, I would also rather see steer clear of games, as it could create all sorts of headaches.

This is a topic to which I will return.


About Denis Farr

Writer interested in intersectionality, games, comics, nerdy stuff in general, theater, and how it all mixes. Graduate of Wabash College, with studies in Theater, English, German, and Gender Studies.
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4 Responses to Gender Policies

  1. So does this mean that you’re skeptical that in the near future I won’t get to play as Lord Fanny in an Invisibles MMO?Cus I wanna sex up a bunch of people and cast a glamor all over London goddamn it!I don’t worry too much about gender policy in games because gender is about the last part of the equation for 90% of designers. The Sims in built on it, games that feature tits use not the gender, but the genital signifier (DOA/Rumble Roses), but otherwise it’s just a sprite and their predominantly white straight male audience just wants good gameplay and pretty blood splats.Something tells me that even a decade ago if someone brought up having playable female characters for female gamers to identify with someone would have replied that that’s why they make games with anthropomorphic animal protagonists.I don’t expect my game designers to be on the cutting edge of political discourse anymore than I expect Metttalllica (all those extra letters are for how ‘Metal’ they are) to be on he cutting edge of how music is being consumed and how it can help smaller bands and the music industry as a whole.

  2. Denis Farr says:

    Right, this is something I don’t worry about too obsessively, and can be an annoyance outside of games, too. Any form that asks me for my gender rather than sex automatically has me trying to figure out who made this form and what wonder how the company feels in concerns to gender policies as well.But, even just changing text from sex to gender would appease me for now.While I don’t expect it from past experience, that doesn’t mean our demands on game designers should fall to the wayside because we see how things have been done in the past. The game companies are becoming a bit too complacent, if you ask me, and need a little oomph here and there.

  3. Jens says:

    The only transsexual character that I can think of is < HREF="" REL="nofollow">Yuan<> from Shenmue II. For the Western release of the game, they gave him a female voice, but it is still rather apparent (from the character model, mannerisms, and the dialog) that he really is male…

  4. Denis Farr says:

    Jens, was Yuan transsexual or cross dressing? The use of games challenging the masculinity (and then reaffirming it) by having main characters dress in drag would certainly be another interesting topic to explore.

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