Years ago, it probably would have been slim-pickings to find video game characters that don’t necessarily fit into one gender. Fortunately, with an increase in LGBT-acceptance globally comes with a wider representation in all facets of entertainment, mainly gaming.
Here are the top non-binary characters – with roles big and small – that appear in video games ranging from puzzle-adventure to fighting and more.
Poison – Final Fight/Street Fighter
Poison is a character in beat-em-up fighting games Final Fight and Street Fighter, under the developing and publishing company Capcom.
Originally imagined as a cisgender female antagonistic thug in Final Fight, game developers were worried about possible North American controversy from having a woman fighting. Thus, Poison was re-conceived as a transgender woman.
That still wasn’t good enough for developers, though, and Poison was replaced with male characters instead.
Later on, she moved from the Final Fight series to Street Fighter, appearing in Street Fighter x Tekken as a playable character, and also added to Ultra Street Fighter IV.
Now, Poison’s gender identity is left intentionally ambiguous, leading fans and media outlets to keep wondering.
Street Fighter IV producer Yoshinori Ono attempted to clarify Poison’s gender in an interview with Electronic Gaming Monthly. "Let's set the record straight: In North America, Poison is officially a post-op transsexual woman. But in Japan, she simply tucks her business away to look female."
However, in a later 2011 interview, Ono claimed that company Capcom “doesn't have a stance technically" and would not give an official answer on Poison’s gender identity.
Mizhena – Baldur’s Gate, Siege of Dragonspear Expansion
Baldur’s Gate, a role-playing videogame, came into controversy this year for having a minor character who was raised as a male “but came to understand I was truly a woman,” as she is quoted in the game.
Critics of the trans character, Mizhena, accuse the game of “tokenism” and “SJW pandering.”
Instead of giving in to the angry responses, Trent Oster, CEO of the developer took a more LGBT-inclusive approach.
"We've received feedback around Mizhena, a supporting character who reveals she is transgender,” Oster said in a statement. “In retrospect, it would have been better served if we had introduced a transgender character with more development. This is a lesson we will be carrying forward in our development as creators and we will be improving this character in a future update."
Zer0 – Borderlands
Zer0 is a playable character in Borderlands 2, a role-playing shooter. Much of the character’s appeal is the mystery surrounding them, leading fans to speculate Zer0 as being nonbinary.
Much of the ambiguity stems from their appearance – Zer0 is completely covered in a fullbody suit, with a figure that is not-quite feminine, yet not-quite masculine either. Although they have a masculine voice, fans argue that Zer0 could possibly speak through a voice modifier.
This ambiguity is further expressed within an in-game newspaper, in which Zer0’s gender seems intentionally removed.
Developers Gearbox Software has not released a statement on Zer0’s gender.
Asari – Mass Effect
Although often referred to with female pronouns, the entire Asari alien race in sci-fi action role-playing shooter Mass Effect is mono-gender.
Asari are purple or blue humanoids with breasts, navels and feminine voices, giving them a distinctly feminine appearance. However, the Asari within the game reveal they have no concept of differences in gender.
“Male and female have no real meaning for us,” said supporting character Liara T’Soni within the Mass Effect franchise, noting that she is “not precisely a woman.”
They are also able to mate and reproduce with someone of any gender or species, and do so in a unique way. During the reproductive process, an Asari will blend their nervous system with their partners, sharing their memories and emotions. The child is always an Asari regardless of the partner.
In the first Mass Effect game, players had three romance options – two cisgender heterosexual characters (one male and one female), and an Asari. Many fans considered this to mean that only the female player could have a homosexual romance option, since it is widely assumed that Asari are essentially women.
Chloe Price – Life is Strange
Chloe Price is one of two central characters in Life is Strange, an episodic graphic adventure video game, and implied possible love interest of female heroine Max Caulfield. With a barely-discussed romance throughout the plot of the game, fans were left wondering how Chloe identified.
In an interview with FemHype, an online blog and “safe space for women and nonbinary genders,” Price’s voice actress Ashly Burch spoke out about Chloe’s gender and sexuality.
Sporting blue hair, tattoos and a rebellious personality, FemHype was interested in how Burch pictures Chloe – both by gender and sexuality.
“I think Chloe is sexually fluid,” said Burch. “I don’t think she really likes to label herself in any particular way—same with her gender.”
The labeling also proves elusive when it comes to her relationship with main character Max. Throughout the game, there are branches of decisions the player can make to determine the flow of Chloe and Max’s relationship, but also leaving a lot between them up to interpretation.
“Life Is Strange is very much about choice, and I think the devs wanted players to be able to decide the nature of Max and Chloe’s relationship,” she said. “But again, the lovely thing about the game is that the subject of queerness is present regardless of how you choose to shape Max and Chloe’s relationship, and I think it does a wonderful job of normalizing and supporting any choice you choose to make.”