In today’s era of increased media consumption, it’s unfortunate that we still face a lack of representation – not just in the industry, but in games themselves.
For my part, I am not really a player. As a kid, I stuck with Club Penguin, Poptropica and sometimes the Mario Kart game when I was at my neighbor’s house. My lack of exposure to video games at a young age shaped the way I play today, but I’m still aware of the issues with damaging representation within the gaming industry.
Cable writers Anita Sarkeesian and Carolyn Petit have analyzed the lack of inclusiveness of women in the gaming and video game industry. Of all the games showcased at E3, an annual video game industry trade fair, only 5% have focused their games on women, although nearly half of all gamers are female, according to Frontiers in Psychology. .
Nintendo’s new game for Nintendo Switch, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, alleviates these gender-related representational issues.
The game exemplifies a necessary level of inclusiveness in the way it represents gender and race – tasks are not delegated in terms of gender – and the storyline is not centered around an assigned main character.
Animal Crossing combats stereotypical representations of gender by allowing the user to create their character, disregarding the gender binary, and allowing users to create a non-gender conforming character.
Animal Crossing also creates a more gender inclusive environment thanks to its number of fluid gender character traits that allow the player to create their version of how they see their protagonist character.
New Horizons is a model game when it comes to gender representation, however, it needs to improve twice in terms of accessibility. First, the game has no representation for the disabled community other than providing a wheelchair as a prize for the game mode, which in itself is demeaning. And secondly, the game and the console are expensive to buy, which often hinders people’s ability to play the game.
While Animal Cross lacks accessibility, its positive portrayal of the genre indicates a step in the right direction. We deserve to live in a world without under-representation within the gaming industry. The industry and its consumers need to do better.