Video game journalists have accused the recently released Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… of transphobia, believing that an achievement for looking up the skirt of one of the game’s main characters exists solely to single out her intersex gender identity, rather than as a reference to a similar achievement unlocked in Nier: Automata by performing the same action to that game’s cis female protagonist, 2B.
[Warning: This article contains slight spoilers for Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139]
Originally released in 2010 as Nier Replicant in Japan and Nier Gestalt in the West, the primary difference being that the former depicted the title character Nier as a young teenager while the latter saw him changed to be a gruff older male in an attempt to appeal to Western audiences.
The first Nier game sees players venture forth to find the cure to the Black Scrawl, a mysterious illness afflicting the protagonist’s sister (or daughter, again depending on the region).
Previously locked to seventh generation consoles and unsurprisingly hard to come by given its niche nature, the original Japanese version of the game has been updated and released as Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139…, bringing the first entry in Yoko Taro’s post-apocalyptic series to PCs and modern consoles.
During the events of the game, Nier encounters Kainé, a Gestalt-possessed Replicant who decides to travel alongside the player after they kill Hook, a giant lizard-esque Gestalt responsible for annihilating Kainé’s home and killing her grandmother.
Eventually, it is discovered through the course of the game that Kainé is intersex, possessing both male and female reproductive genitalia. As revealed in the Japan-exclusive book Grimoire Nier, Kainé was born a human female, but an error in the Replican system resulted in her intersex identity.
Alongside the game’s remastered graphics, new music, and redesigned combat, Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… also introduced four new achievements/trophies for players to unlock, one of which, “Daredevil” is awarded upon having “risked life and limb 10 times to discover someone’s secret” by looking up Kainé’s skirt.
This achievement is similar to one featured in Nier: Automata, What Are You Doing?, which is awarded for likewise discovering “2B’s secret” (i.e. looking up her skirt) 10 times.
Despite intersex and transgender being two distinctly different gender identities, an important distinction routinely made within transgender discourse, a number of video game journalists accused this achievement of being transphobic, believing the ‘secret’ to be discovered was the intersex nature of Kainé’s body.
The backlash was initially sparked by TheGamer, who claimed in an article titled “Nier Replicant’s Daredevil Trophy Is Unnecessary And Transphobic” that the achievement was “a transphobic, crass joke that does [Kainé] a monumental disservice.”
Though article author Jade King acknowledges that the Daredevil trophy is “clearly a riff” on the What Are You Doing? achievement, they proceed to disingenuously claim a difference between the two by arguing that while “Replicant is clearly trying to do the same, but in trying to be funny, it simply ends up being ignorant.”
“Kaine’s body being perceived as a secret for players to ogle at in service of virtual gratification also draws a stark comparison to problems in the real world,” wrote King. “We live in a society where intersex and transgender people can be harmed for simply being who they are – whether it means presenting in a certain way or not being ashamed of whatever is in their pants.”
Continuing, King stated, “It’s who we are, but that hasn’t stopped us from being assaulted, harassed, or even murdered by people who feel like they’ve been tricked or lied to after uncovering we aren’t who they thought we were.”
King’s sentiments were soon shared and boosted to a wider audience by Laura Kate Dale, the video game journalist best known for ignorantly claiming that the Japanese lyrics of Persona 5’s theme Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There featured an English language ‘disability slur’.
Dale retweeted TheGamer’s article to her followers and declared that the achievement was “gross, and disheartening.”
Similar to King, Dale acknowledged that “it’s clearly trying to play on the theme of the 2B butt oggling achievement from Automata,” while simultaneously attempting to claim that Kainé’s identity made the exact same situation transphobic.
“The execution of this feels different,” said Dale. “It’s much more rooted in stereotypes about intersex people, and it feels a whole lot more invasive.”
Ironically, Dale proceeded to claim that the achievement was “a shitty way to treat an intersex character, and we should expect better of video games,” again ignoring the true equality of how Taro and his team have actually treated the character with a ‘different’ gender identity in the exact same fashion as they treated the series’ cis female lead.
Though he did not elaborate on his opinion towards the achievement to the same extent as King and Dale, Gamespot video producer Ben Janca succinctly asserted that “Yo, that Nier achievement is gross as hell.”
“How could anyone think that was a good idea at all??” he asked.
What do you make of Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139…’s Daredevil achievement? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below!