Square Enix's forthcoming farming sim Harvestella is the first of the publisher's games to offer a non-binary gender option in a character creator.
It's still something of a rarity for major game developers to specifically include non-binary representation in addition to male and female. But for the Harvestella team, its inclusion feels "completely normal", producer Daisuke Taka told Eurogamer.
"I think it's completely normal these days for non-binary to be included in gender selection," Taka said.
"The visibility of gender non-conforming people has become much more commonplace, so we thought it was important to reflect this within the game and show that all players are welcome to Harvestella."
Taka believes it was important to include the option as the game "is for everyone".
"Using gender-neutral pronouns takes a relatively small amount of effort, yet the positive impact is huge, as it means you are making the effort to include everyone - and our game is for everyone," said Taka.
"There's no major impact on the game other than pronouns changing, but we hope that this means everyone feels included."
Put your best self forward in #Harvestella.— Square Enix (@SquareEnix) October 21, 2022
Upon starting the game, you'll be able to choose your protagonist's hair color, their appearance, and how others in the world refer to them.
Try these options out now with the free demo on Nintendo Switch: https://t.co/jD3nmWE1S6 pic.twitter.com/CSdDI15Fnc
Character creation has become a staple of farming sims - they are, after all, role-playing games in the purest sense.
Having players able to choose their gender adds to the game's sense of immersion, something every player is entitled to.
"The protagonist of Harvestella is the player," said Taka. "We thought it was important to have the player create their own character, selecting different elements, including gender, appearance, voice and name. We felt this was important so players aren't limited, and feel free to express themselves however they want and as a result are much more attached to their character."
The inclusion of a non-binary gender option in Harvestella is a major step forward in representation for Square Enix, and Japanese game development in general.
Harvestella is due out on Nintendo Switch and PC on 4th November. You can check out a demo on Switch now ahead of release.