Animal Crossing: New Horizons has changed the selectable options for gender in the English release of the game to the more gender-neutral ‘style,’ with the game’s director stating that it was done to reflect how “society is shifting to valuing a lot of people’s different identities.”
Animal Crossing: New Horizons Director Aya Kyogoku recently spoke with The Washington Post about the game’s various changes, such as the more relaxed time travel penalties, the ability to terraform your island, and player customization.
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Kyogoku further noted that the level of customization allowed in New Horizons extended to the selection of one’s gender expression, as hair styles and clothing are not restricted by gender, stating that this change was done due to society “shifting to valuing a lot of people’s different identities.”
The Washington Post’s Elise Favis writes:
“This level of fine-tuning your character is “not just about gender,” Kyogoku said, but relates to the team’s overall feeling that “society is shifting to valuing a lot of people’s different identities.”
“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,” she said.
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For the English release, this attention toward gender identities is taken a step further. During the game’s initial setup, the player is not asked to choose between male and female genders, but rather to choose whether their “style” leans more masculine or feminine.
However, it appears that this gender-neutral option is exclusive to the English release, as the game still specifically labels the choices as explicitly male and female in versions of the game produced in other languages:
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Animal Crossing: New Horizons is currently available on the Nintendo Switch. It has a 6.3 User Score on Metacritic.