Animal Crossing: New Horizons has recently released on Switch, and many players are praising the game for its flexible position on gender identity–it never asks you to confirm a gender, and lets you use any hair, make-up, and clothing on any body, which was not the case with previous games in the series. Now, in a new interview with The Washington Post, the game’s producer Aya Kyogoku has explained the game’s relaxed stance on identifying and restricting gender.
Kyogoku says that the decision is “not just about gender,” but a wider consideration for how people identify themselves. “Society is shifting to valuing a lot of people’s different identities,” Kyogoku says. “We basically wanted to create a game where users didn’t really have to think about gender or if they wanted to think about gender, they’re also able to.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Kyogoku notes that she does not consider changing the Switch’s internal clock to skip time forward “cheating,” although the developers advise against it.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is, by Nintendo standards, fairly progressive, and its push for greater diversity is represented even in its choice of hairstyles. It’s also the first game in the series to feature characters in same-sex relationships, as NPCs C.J. and Flick are explicitly referred to as a couple. Several players on Twitter have also noted a reference to a comic book that features a gay main character that one villager will reference in conversation.
This is just one of many things worth praising in the latest Animal Crossing. In GameSpot’s review-in-progress, Kallie Plagge noted how enormous the game is. “So far, I’ve played Animal Crossing: New Horizons for 80 hours over 17 days, and that anticipation hasn’t yet gone away. While I’ve spent a lot of time developing my island so far, I still feel as if there’s plenty left for me to do and see–there’s a lot in New Horizons to occupy your time with.”
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