How Avid gamers Use Video Video games to Discover Their Gender Id

This text was co-written by Mo Deslandes, Psy.D., a postdoctoral therapist and “cozy gamer” who helps LGBTQ development via video gaming.

“Are you a boy or a lady?”

Kris frowned on the display, not sure methods to reply.

Was Kris a boy or a lady? Did both class really feel proper?

Kris hadn’t anticipated an existential disaster when grabbing Pokémon off the shelf that morning. However the sport’s introductory query had raised a query that Kris had been pondering just lately. The sport was merely asking what hair and clothes to assign to the protagonist. However what reply felt proper? What was Kris’s gender?

Kris just isn’t alone on this journey. Many avid gamers uncover key parts of their identities whereas taking part in video video games. As a result of video video games require avid gamers to both play as an current character or design their very own, they fairly often spend time taking part in as different genders or making aware selections about gender.

Video Video games and Gender

Most video video games have a male protagonist, forcing each participant to imagine the position of a person for a lot of hours. Most boys and males by no means discover this discrepancy; male protagonists are taken with no consideration.

Nonetheless, some avid gamers discover it difficult to play as a person, for causes they may not perceive. For them, video games with feminine protagonists in some way really feel higher. In-game characters calling the participant a “her” delights them.

A latest remedy consumer named Alex* seen this whereas taking part in Horizon Zero Daybreak. Destroying mechanical velociraptors as Aloy, the sequence’ feminine protagonist, was exhilarating, however Alex couldn’t clarify why.

Alex defined that it was greater than the standard enjoyable of overcoming a fast-paced problem. Aloy’s lengthy crimson hair, her clothes, even the way in which that she stood felt liberating.

Ultimately, Alex found why taking part in as Aloy felt so affirming. Alex admired Aloy’s braveness and talent but in addition felt deeply related to the character’s gender. Alex had all the time been referred to as a person however wasn’t positive why this felt uncomfortable. Exploring this was Alex’s first step towards understanding herself as a trans lady.


Assuming the position of one other could be illuminating. Avid gamers particularly can study themselves by being attentive to what features of the characters they join with.

Do I cringe when my character bosses others round? Do I really feel joyful when caring for fictional kids? Maybe I worth kindness and would get pleasure from being a dad or mum. If I’m happiest when my character rescues others, ought to I think about a profession as a firefighter or EMT?

Some make the most of this energy to discover elements of themselves in a protected atmosphere. If somebody assigned male at birth decides to put on a gown to highschool, their mother and father and different college students may reply with questions or violence. If that very same particular person determined to click on on a gown in Animal Crossing, nobody would know.

One writer explained, In actual life, I couldn’t mess around with how I offered. I knew children who bought beat up for daring to color their nails. I wasn’t (nor courageous) sufficient to confront that actuality. Instead of doing so, I banished these ideas into the deepest confines of my thoughts. Taking part in as a lady in a sport was a small factor, but it surely let me assert some management over how I offered myself—in a manner that eight-year-old me may by no means do in particular person.”

Some video games have begun to be extra inclusive by eradicating gender labels completely. Early Pokémon video games explicitly requested for one’s gender to find out which character mannequin to make use of. Latest video games within the sequence as an alternative ask gamers to “select a glance” or “select an look.”

The Pokemon Company

Supply: The Pokemon Firm

This gives avid gamers who’re questioning their gender the chance to keep away from deciding on a label of which they’re nonetheless unsure. It’s also extra inclusive of non-binary individuals who match neither the “boy” nor “lady” classes. These methods aren’t excellent—the eight footage nonetheless indicate a binary alternative, with boys on the left and ladies on the proper—but it surely’s a step ahead.

Transgender Important Reads

The Sims 4, a life simulation sport, just lately gave gamers the power so as to add scars to their characters’ chests. These particular scars point out that the character has undergone masculinizing chest reconstruction, or “prime surgical procedure,” which removes one’s breasts. The identical replace added binders—clothes which compress one’s chest to cut back psychological discomfort with having seen breasts. These inclusive options had been broadly praised by the trans group.

Mo has even “prescribed” taking part in as completely different genders in video video games to purchasers who’re not sure of their gender. Reflecting on the way it feels when taking part in as completely different genders is usually revealing. Shoppers who discover the expertise of taking part in as a girl extra affirming than taking part in as a person may spend time afterward occupied with their very own gender. Why did transferring a digital lady round really feel so good? Why didn’t controlling a male character present the identical happiness or consolation?

Apprehensive mother and father ought to be aware that taking part in video video games can not make individuals transgender. They’ll solely assist that particular person perceive who they all the time had been.

On-line Group

Video video games additionally invite gamers to a broad vary of on-line communities. Many on-line teams for queer online game lovers present casual assist networks. These are inclusive and protected locations to anonymously talk about gender with out worry of “outing” oneself or sharing one’s identification with others who may not be supportive.

Individuals who have by no means met any overtly queer individuals can go to those on-line areas to explain their feelings and get assist from others. This digital assist can final so long as they need, no matter whether or not they determine to share their identification with household or pals. Sharing your inside life with others is essential on your psychological well being.

Moreover, these communities allow individuals to find labels they had been unaware of. A number of of my purchasers vividly keep in mind studying in on-line areas that non-binary individuals exist. This was revelatory for them—the way in which that they felt inside had a reputation and a historical past and a tradition to attach with.

Limitations and Security Issues

Though analysis and anecdotal proof present that video video games can be utilized in a number of constructive methods, there are limitations.

Giant elements of the gaming group argue that video games ought to solely be enjoyable and should not contain politics.

Asserting that it’s doable for video games to be apolitical is, for my part, ridiculous, like it’s for any artwork type. Nonetheless, this has made many on-line communities unsafe locations to specific one’s identification. When identification is introduced up, it’s often rejected by others within the discussion board. Avid gamers generally disguise themselves on-line to keep away from harassment. (I mentioned this in better element right here.)

Dad and mom ought to assist their kids learn to be protected on-line. This consists of (1) explaining the risks of offering one’s full title or contact data, (2) encouraging them to share with mother and father after they really feel uncomfortable or frightened, and (3) by no means agreeing to fulfill with individuals met on-line with out consulting their mother and father first. (A information with extra data for folks could be discovered here.)

Additional, despite the fact that on-line communities are an vital supply of assist, they’re incomplete methods to attach with others. Present in bodily area with supportive individuals is crucial to feeling supported and beloved. That is very true when others within the room share vital elements of our identification.

Regardless of these challenges, video video games and related communities are invaluable sources to assist individuals discover gender and join with others.

*Shoppers mentioned on this article are combos of a number of real-world circumstances to protect anonymity.