Sunday, 31 May 2020

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Does Have A Secret Gender Slider

In a first for the Animal Crossing franchise, Animal Crossing: New Horizons does not make the player confirm their gender. All hairstyles, clothes, and makeup are usable, regardless of whether the player chooses a masculine or feminine style for their character. However, the game still has a secret gender slider.

How Animal Crossing: New Horizons Marks Gender

One of TheGamer’s staff discovered a glitch when changing their appearance in the mirror as another player entered the room. The glitch removed the standard tank top the character wears when tops are removed and showed the character with a shadow across their chest, supposedly to represent a bra.

We’re unsure whether this bra-like shadow appears on characters where the masculine “style” was selected, but given the history Animal Crossing has with gender, it’s unlikely.

Animal Crossing’s History With Gender

In previous Animal Crossing games, the player had to confirm their gender upon character creation. After a gender was selected, the player couldn’t change it, and their character was limited to boy- or girl-gendered clothing and features.

In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the game does away with gender restrictions and allows players to customize their character however they see fit. In an interview with the Washington Post, the game’s producer, Aya Kyogoku, said the decision to remove gender restrictions from Animal Crossing was 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.”

That explains why, at the beginning of the game, the player is asked to “choose a style,” but they can change their mind later and make their character appear as gendered or androgynous as they want. However, there are marked differences between the Western version and Japanese release.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Japanese Version vs. Western Release

The Western release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons may be celebrated for its progressive take on gender and the LGBTQ+ community, but the Japanese release has been criticized for the opposite.

As this Twitter user pointed out, when creating their character, Japanese players are asked to choose whether they identify as a “boy” or “girl” as opposed to choosing a “style.” Additionally, non-player characters who mention having a same-sex partner (such as the beaver character, C.J.) instead refer to them as a “friend” in the Japanese version.

This may explain why, despite being the most progressive game in the Animal Crossing franchise in terms of gender and sexual orientation, Animal Crossing: New Horizons developers hid a gender slider the player isn’t intended to see. Though the gender slider has no perceivable effect on gameplay, its inclusion speaks to the cultural differences in LGBTQ+ acceptance between the East and West.

Hopefully, future Animal Crossing games will demonstrate greater gender acceptance in both the Western and Japanese versions. Until then, secret gender sliders and regional differences like this remind us of the struggle for the LGBTQ+ community to be accepted on a global scale.

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