March 28, 2023
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Pokemon Scarlet and Violet’s approach to customization validates more gender identities than previous games

Long before pokemon scarlet and Purple were announced, the story of a child sending a letter to Nintendo asking for non-binary Pokemon went viral on social media, especially after the response from the US wing of the company. In the letter Nintendo wrote to the child, a customer service representative said it would make sense to introduce different gender identities into Pokemon games, so that every coach can feel truly represented while playing. Pokemon scarlet and violetRecent previews of highlighted that players will no longer need to select their character’s gender at the start of the game, which is quite revolutionary compared to previous entries in the series.

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In fact, a staple of Pokemon always let the professor know at the start of the game whether the main character is a boy or a girl, which has become more subtle in modern main games, often asking to choose which portrait best represents the character. Pokemon scarlet and violet seem to get rid of this aspect and instead allow players to enter a character customization menu from the start of a new save, where they can choose all of their preferred facial features. Even body type doesn’t seem to matter in-game, with the base models looking alike regardless of gender differences, making Gen 9 much more inclusive than other versions.

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How Pokemon Scarlet and Violet Make LGBTQIA+ People Feel Welcome

The first detail that speaks volumes about Gen 9’s inclusivity came with the official reveal of Paldea’s ice-type gym leader Grusha, who has an androgynous appearance aside from a bit of makeup on his eyes. The official site of Pokemon scarlet and violet later used the pronouns he/him to describe Grusha and his background as a professional snowboarder. This fact alone is proof that the tides are changing for LGBTQIA+ representation in Pokemonbecause having NPCs with different gender identities and orientations can make a huge difference to the audience.

Second, having the main character whose appearance is fully customizable with female, male, and gender-neutral characteristics can further help LGBTQIA+ people feel like they have a place in the game from the get-go. Not only that, because it seems that Pokemon scarlet and violet will allow players to use all clothing available in-game regardless of gender differences, and it’s a great form of validation and expression for non-binary, transgender, and genderfluid coaches, for example.

It’s still unclear if this actually includes all of the game’s cosmetics and appearance, but based on early leaks, it seems plausible. In fact, there is a chance that Pokemon scarlet and violet won’t feature skirts at all, and while that might be a bit limiting for female outfits, it doesn’t protect a cosmetic item from non-female characters. However, given Grusha’s use of makeup, it’s entirely possible that stylist boutiques like those at Pok√©mon Sword and Shield will allow players to change both makeup and hair regardless of the main character’s gender, allowing for any fashion style achievable by all players at any time.

Gen 8 wasn’t the best in terms of LGBTQIA+ inclusivity, but it started a positive trend about more customization in the series, especially with Pokemon Legends: Arceus. pokemon shiny diamond and shiny pearl also capitalized on customization trends to add it to Gen 4, and the way Game Freak is currently handling Gen 9 proves that was always the goal. Globally, Pokemon scarlet and violet are unlikely to have a perfect approach to gender identities and orientations, but they could be the cornerstone on which future games build a better legacy for LGBTQIA+ people.

Pokemon Scarlet and Purple out November 18 on Nintendo Switch.

MORE: Greavard Could Change Pokemon Scarlet and Violet Exclusive Conversation

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