The latest big release on Nintendo’s popular Switch console is “Splatoon 3,” a fun exercise in battling opponents to cover an arena with different colored paints, squirted out by humanoid squids wielding oversized water-pistols. In mid-August, however, certain corners of the Internet went wild with speculation that the game was not as innocent as it appeared.
The particular colors of paint used in the game’s branding happened to be similar to those used in the non-binary pride flag flown by LGBT propagandists. Was the game itself yet more trans propaganda too?
Attention centered upon a new character named Shiver, who looked ambiguously feminine, with eyeliner, shark-tooth earrings, and long blue hair pulled down over one eye in classic Veronica Lake style. Was this a male dressed as a female? Nowhere in their advance PR material did Nintendo specifically refer to Shiver’s sex, nor did they happen to use pronouns when describing the figure. Obviously, this must have meant Shiver was non-binary!
Claiming “fans were excited for more inclusivity” in the series, tech website The Verge sought official clarification: Is Shiver queer? No, replied Nintendo of America executive Nate Bihldorff, she is not. Shiver is female.
Yet some headlines disingenuously implied the opposite. “Nintendo Confirms That Splatoon 3’s Shiver Identifies As Female,” reported gaming site Nintendo Life, adding “she will use she/her pronouns in the game.” This may sound like Shiver is a man who thinks he is a woman. But it means she is female, not that she merely identifies as such. Readers’ comments made clear some were confused.
Anyway, “Splatoon” is set 12,000 years in the future, where extinct humans are replaced with shape-shifting sea-creatures, able to adopt temporary humanoid form; Shiver is one such protean future-beast, an “Octoling.” It is unclear how an imaginary breed of cephalopod could even be “transgender” at all, this being a purely human category.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Gay Awakening
Another top Nintendo franchise is “The Legend of Zelda,” in which the elf-warrior Link wields his Master Sword to rescue the oft-kidnapped Princess Zelda from the evil Dark Lord Ganondorf. In 1998’s “Ocarina of Time,” Zelda disguises herself as a man named Sheik and heads desert-ward, hoping to evade Ganondorf’s clutches.
This is clearly done purely for plot reasons, which Nintendo has since confirmed with a “definitive answer” that Sheik is indeed just a woman in disguise. Yet some ideologues refuse point-blank to accept this “definitive answer,” arguing that, in the magical universe where the games are set, it really is possible for a humanoid being to change sex — an argument that also serves as a tacit admission this is physically impossible in the non-magical off-screen world.
If such gender-bending fantasies — often dubbed “head-canon” — stay private, then who cares? The only way I can get through many woke Hollywood movies and TV shows these days myself is by imagining everyone in them isn’t gay or transgender. But when campaigners try to force their delusions upon others, it is a different matter.
Emblems of Victimhood
Even when non-straight people do appear in games, these professional victims aren’t happy. Nintendo’s “Fire Emblem” series features fantasy-world warriors facing off on military battlefields. Individual combatants can fall in love and marry, with their children joining them in combat as the decades pass by. Contemporary entries now offer the discreet option for same-sex partnerships to occur —an option that you can easily ignore and opt not to pursue.
For critics like Todd Harper, a teacher of game design, this is prejudiced. “If queerness exists in these worlds, it’s something you add as a player,” a mere “choice you can make, I guess,” rather than something compulsory. Instead, the option of engineering homosexual relationships must become “one that can’t be sidestepped or deftly avoided.”
Just as bad, when the game’s characters get married, the gay and lesbian ones can’t have any children for some “inexplicable” reason. Not only is this “heteronormative” (re: biologically accurate), but it also imposes a “queer tax” upon the players, says Harper, as they don’t get any extra child soldiers to deploy, putting homosexual players at a terrible military disadvantage.
Militants view Nintendo as a particular problem as, unlike woke U.S. entertainment giants like Disney, they refuse to proselytize gayness. When in 2013, their “Tomodachi Collection: New Life” contained a coding error that did allow two men to marry and become pregnant, Nintendo issued a software patch to fix such “human relations that become strange.” The response in the gaming press was overwhelmingly negative. Nintendo announced they “never intended to make any form of social commentary” but their game was still rejected by some over the mistake.
Nintendo does have a genuine transgender character: a bow-wearing pink dinosaur named Birdo, who first appeared in 1988’s “Super Mario Bros 2.” Birdo is described in the game’s manual thus: “He thinks he is a girl and spits eggs from his mouth. He’d rather be called ‘Birdetta’.” In the obscure, Japan-only 2008 title “Captain Rainbow,” Birdo was even arrested for wrongly entering a female toilet, an uncanny anticipation of controversies to come.
Nintendo clearly meant for Birdo to be a joke and has since become unsure of what to do with this alleged trans icon, sometimes calling Birdo female, at others humorously implying he/she/it is in a relationship with the franchise’s other most prominent dinosaur, Yoshi. Onto this confusing blank canvas, activists have since sought to project whatever they please.
For writer Alex Mell-Taylor, Nintendo’s proud image as a family-friendly company must be ruthlessly subverted: “Hopefully one day Nintendo’s version of Birdo will more closely align to the reality, the queer community [but nobody else] wanted: that of a trans woman, out and proud to her boyfriend Yoshi, the Mushroom Kingdom, and the world. To get there, however, it means accepting the reality that we are in. We must be critical of Nintendo for their historical and current conservatism, and that means [getting them to place] uplifting stories with trans characters in the actual text, not just the subtext.”
In other words, Mell-Taylor wants to transform enjoyable Japanese video games into unbearable leftist agitprop, just like everything else these days.
“We’re not supposed to be anything,” say Shiver and her gang in promotional footage for “Splatoon 3.” The trans cult took this as a coded clue she was transsexual. Perhaps they should have taken her words a bit more literally and left normal kids to get on doing what they really wanted to do: shoot each other repeatedly in the face with giant paint guns.
Steven Tucker is a UK-based writer with several books to his name. He is currently wondering just how exactly Tetris is going to be made transgender too.
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