Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Pokemon Go Praised For Lack Of Gender Choice

Unless you're living on a cave on Mars it's likely that you will be aware of Pokemon Go, whether you have played the game or not.  The new smartphone game that allows players to go out into the real world and catch their very own Pokemon on their phone has received massive praise, and has increased Nintendo's shares by 53% since its launch.

The game hasn't been out long but it's already a massive success around the world.  Some of the success of the new game seems to come from the fact that it is encouraging healthy activity in those who have been playing it, not just in actually being active and having to travel around, but in encouraging people with depression and social anxiety to leave their homes.

One of the areas that the game is also getting a lot of positive attention for is its choices of what gender to play as, or rather, the lack of gender.

Since introducing the first female playable character in Pokemon Crystal back in Generation 2 the series has embraced the fact that it has a diverse audience and has allowed players to choose whether to have a male or female character.  Each game begins with asking the player to choose if they are a 'girl or a boy' before anything else.

Whilst this was a good move on the companys part back then social awareness of gender issues and gender diversity has increased, and for what might seem like a simple choice to play as either male or female is, for some, an uneasy moment.  For those transitioning, in the early stages of understanding their gender, for non-binary people and many others, being forced to choose between defining your gender as either male or female can be an uncomfortable moment.

It would appear that Nintendo have addressed this though, by simply asking players of Pokemon Go to 'choose your style'.

This simple change in wording has already been met with massive praise by not just members of the trans and gender non-conforming community, but by those who have an awareness and understanding of gender issues.  For fans of the series this has been a change that has been requested for many years, with multiple petitions to the company to make this change having been launched for many years now.

The choice to do away with arbitrary gender binary makes a great deal of sense for the Pokemon universe where Pokemon themselves can be male, female or genderless, and stereotypically male or female looking Pokemon can be either gender, such as a female Mr Mine.

Hopefully this change has proven popular enough that Nintendo will include such a change of wording for the character selection process in the upcoming new games Pokemon Sun & Pokemon Moon.


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