Being a non-binary person and trying to find representation of your gender in videogames is a strange experience. It’s especially difficult given the depth and breadth of non-binary gender experiences that exist in the world, meaning it’s not really possible to represent all non-binary people with a few token characters. The very nature of being non-binary is to be outside of male and female, so the possibilities are near endless.
There’s also this concept of gender euphoria that isn’t really talked about much outside of trans and non-binary circles. You might be familiar with gender dysphoria, the feeling of discomfort that comes with your gender and your assigned sex not matching up. Gender euphoria is a way of experiencing gender with more joy. It’s wearing the perfect outfit or hairstyle that makes you feel correct.
Trans people have used videogames to explore their gender for years and nowadays as games introduce more robust character creation options, non-binary pronoun options, and non-gendered character models, I’m finding it easier than ever to experience joy in my own gender through the games I play.
So, without further ado, here’s a list of Nintendo Switch and mobile games that give me gender euphoria as a non-binary person.
I vividly remember watching the Nintendo Direct where Nintendo first announced Splatoon and becoming obsessed with the androgynous, colorful squid people before me. Although Splatoon’s original incarnation did technically gender the Inklings, the differences between the two base character models were negligible and their unique style made me feel extremely cool. The franchise has continued to build on its character customization options with each entry and I look forward to dressing my Inkling in the freshest fashions whenever I log back on.
Harvestella’s non-binary option caused a stir online, but the inclusion of they/them pronouns in Square Enix’s JRPG meant a lot to me as someone looking to explore the genre. Character creation is one thing, but in dialog-heavy games, being constantly misgendered can be tiring. Choosing they/them pronouns for my character in Harvestella immersed me in the story more than I thought it would and showed that non-binary folks like me can be bad-ass sword-wielding warriors too.
I’ve been playing Animal Crossing since Wild World for the DS and I’ve always loved the character customization options. Like Splatoon, these options have improved with every entry into the series, letting you wear whatever items of clothing you want regardless of which gender or ‘style’ in later games you choose. I’ve picked Pocket Camp in particular because it has some of the most gorgeous cosmetics in the entire franchise and I wish it got more love!
Puberty can be really distressing for trans and non-binary people, so having options to customize your character’s experience of puberty can go a long way to alleviate this. In I Was a Teenage Exocolonist, not only can you choose from a range of pronouns for your character and change them at any time to ‘try on’ new ones or match your real-life fluctuating preferences, but as the story follows your character through puberty, you get to choose what exactly ‘puberty’ means.
As well as deciding if you end up with a masculine, feminine, or androgynous adult body, you can also change settings related to genitalia, menstruation, and other bodily functions related to puberty. It may seem oddly specific, but it can make this sort of narrative game a lot more comfortable for trans people and has the potential to help younger trans folks envision their desired future.
Those are a handful of games on Nintendo Switch and mobile that give me gender euphoria. If you’re interested in learning more about the non-binary gaming experience, check out our list of non-binary characters in Nintendo games.