So sometime between writing our The Dark Knight Rises review where we briefly talk about making Talia al Ghul a man and discovering a game on Facebook called Dragon City, I’ve been thinking a lot about gender lately. Lady Geek Girl and I used Talia as an example in our post. Someone at one point had mentioned that it was a good thing that her ethnicity and the ethnicities of two other villains had been changed to white to avoid racism. The point we tried to get at was that that wouldn’t solve racist stereotyping any more than changing Talia to a man would have solved sexism.
The only reason Dragon City has gotten me thinking about gender is for breeding purposes. Every time I come across a game that involves raising creatures, without fail, Creature A and Creature B can produce spawn. This first happened to me in Pokémon Silver, and though it was realistic that I had to catch a male and a female Abra to make a baby, it was still about as annoying as trying to get Togepi to grow the hell up before I could throw it in the breeding center with a Ditto.
Something like this is much easier in a game like Zoo Tycoon, where I can just buy animals of different genders, toss them in a pin together, get money because they entertain my pixilated zoo guests, and potentially a baby or eight would happen.
Dragon City allows for dragon breeding, and to be honest, I’m pretty sure the game makers either forgot that they designed some dragons more feminine and some more masculine, because any dragon can produce an egg with another dragon. And because of that, just about all of my dragons are related, and they still make babies with each other. I know I said I always tried to make an incestuous family on The Sims; this is nowhere near as satisfying an achievement. Maybe it’s because, since they’re dragons, I’m not breaking any sort of cultural norms with their boring fictional lives. Their only interesting trait is that they seem to crap gold, something they share with the fish on that Insaniquarium game. Though, at least the fish get attacked by aliens every once in a while.
And no, for those of you concerned that I’m about to talk about the portrayal of gender on a Facebook game, I’m really not. It’s a Facebook game. I think it’s safe to say that it was done for the sake of convenience and not for any deep-meaning statements on gender roles and identity.
Although, it would be funny to see it try.
But all of this reminded me of an article I found on The Mary Sue last year. And while searching for it, I came across another one on Kotaku. Both of these articles are essentially about the same thing. That is people cosplaying as fictional geek characters whom are of the opposite sex in canon, and alter the character to their own gender.
For example, you might have a girl decide to cosplay as Squall from Final Fantasy VIII, the character below:
This is what is known a crossplay, when a character is portrayed by someone of another sex. Gender bending in cosplay would be when a girl takes Squall’s character and comes up with something like this for her character design:
She’s very much Squall. She’s also very much female.
Now, to be fair, I don’t know the people in either of these pictures, and I don’t know if the girl in the first one was trying for a male Squall or a female Squall in the same outfit, but I think it’s safe to say that the second picture definitely features a female Squall.
I love when people dress up like this. It just raises so many questions regarding the actual canon of a story. What if Squall was a girl? Normally when I see something like this in fanfiction, it’s just to open up new romantic avenues for the characters, because I guess gender matters when choosing a partner in fanfiction. And no, there’s nothing inherently wrong with turning Obi-Wan into a woman and then wondering what happens when she meets a funny little slave boy on Tatooine. I just love it so much more in cosplay, because while I enjoy gender bending, when it’s done in cosplay, I can actually see how other people envision a female Superman, or a male River Tam.
And now that I’ve started talking about this, I feel the strange urge to go draw all of my favorite Inheritance Cycle characters as different sexes. So I’m potentially going to go do that now, and end this post here.
I also highly recommend that everyone go read those two articles I linked to, because they illustrate this point so much better than I could.