Pyre, a fantasy role-playing game that was released on Tuesday for PlayStation 4, allows players to make their characters gender-neutral and use “they-them” pronouns.
While gender-neutral characters aren’t a first for role-playing games, it is extremely uncommon. For instance, LongStory, a mobile dating sim, allowed players to be addressed as “he,” “she,” or “they,” as well as have same sex or nonbinary romantic relationships.
Unlike LongStory, however, Pyre is a relatively high-profile release. The game is currently featured on the Steam store, and is at the third spot of its “Top Sellers” list. It’s also an anticipated release from developer Supergiant Games, which previously created the critically acclaimed games Bastion and Transistor.
Outside of the role-playing game genre, gender-queer characters are few and far between in the video game universe. Only a few characters are explicitly gender-queer, such as Bolt from Crypt of the NecroDancer and Bridget from Guilty Gear.
Jynx Boyne, a nonbinary gamer and writer for “Not Your Mama’s Gamer,” wrote in a blog that even though games that allow players to create their own characters often have restrictive, gendered wardrobes for the player character, they do have some benefits.
“Being able to customize your character in Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Pokemon X/Y allows for not only male and female players to get the avatar they want, but for transpeople to see the person they want to be,” they wrote. “At least within the context of the universe.”
Some gamers have also seen room for non-binary gender expression through characters such as Link from The Legend of Zelda, Krem from Dragon Age: Inquisition, Naoto Shirogane from Persona 4, and Frisk from Undertale.
Pyre‘s reviews have been largely positive, so maybe other game developers will follow Supergiant’s example and be more inclusive toward their non-binary players.