Star Wars Games Adding Trans Character Creation

Star Wars games makers are adding options for trans character creation.

By Dylan Balde | Published

This article is more than 2 years old

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The sprawling open worlds of Star Wars are about to get more inclusive, sources close to We Got This Covered allege. In a galaxy where aliens abound and anything goes, trans and non-binary characters are egregiously rare. The franchise welcomed two trans non-binary Jedi Knights in March with characters Ceret and Terec in Cavan Scott’s The High Republic, but Star Wars has yet to extend this courtesy to its video game equivalents. This changes on Thursday as Lucasfilm begins prioritizing trans and non-binary character customization in all its Star Wars role-playing games going forward.

Very little has been divulged in terms of details. There are Star Wars games currently in the wind right now, but specifics remain murky. There are only three that we know of: LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, Star Wars: Hunters, and an ambitious Ubisoft Massive open world project from the team behind The Division 2. The Skywalker Saga is basically a remastered compilation of every canon brick film iteration released previously and will only feature known heroes and villains. Trans and non-binary Jedi and Sith were flagrantly overlooked in past Star Wars entries across all media, hence will remain so in Lucasfilm’s first major video game undertaking since Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

Star Wars: Hunters is invariably lesser known, with a limited release this year on the Nintendo Switch and select mobile devices. The multiplayer RPG is a battle arena in the vein of League of Legends and Honor of Kings, and may boast complex PvP and PvE elements. It features preset locations across Star Wars canon and characters of every racial background and profession: bounty hunters, Imperial troopers, droids, Wookiee warriors, rebel fighters, Jedi Masters, and Sith Lords, you name it. Players can assemble their own teams and match with strangers and friends. There should, ideally, be little to stand in the way of trans and non-binary playables making it to the roster, but Zynga (FarmVille, Words with Friends 2, Zynga Poker) has been developing the game in secret since 2018; with Disney having brokered the deal long before company inclusivity could necessitate any changes, characters are expected to remain relatively straightforward.

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Ubisoft Massive’s open world Star Wars is the logical inheritor of Disney’s more progressive creative and hiring policies — trans acceptance included — with the game still in the early stages of development. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot recently convinced Senior Vice President of Global Games & Interactive Experiences Sean Shoptaw of Disney to allow the company’s The Division team to captain a new sandbox alongside its upcoming Avatar tie-in, Frontiers of Pandora, and promised “an original Star Wars adventure that is different from anything that has been done before.” The Division 2 director Julian Gerighty is overseeing.

Ubisoft is nothing if not inclusive. Assassin’s Creed’s depiction of human sexuality has always remained historically accurate, hence the addition of several LGBTQ characters: Assassins Salai (Brotherhood) and Jacob Frye (Syndicate) are gay and bisexual, respectively; the protagonists of Odyssey and Valhalla can be tweaked to the suit the player’s sexual preference; while Ned Wynert of Syndicate is a trans man. Tweek and Craig’s relationship is a core feature of South Park: The Fractured but Whole by Ubisoft San Francisco. And of course Ubisoft Montreal adapted Scott Pilgrim vs the World, which has Knives Chau and Kim Pine, both bisexual main characters. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege also released its Year 6 pass early this year which had gay explosives expert Flores front and center.

Contrary to previous reports, Star Wars video games weren’t always so banally heterosexual. Knights of the Old Republic had lesbian party members Juhani and Belaya; in fact, Juhani is widely credited by fans as the first real LGBTQ character in the Star Wars universe. 2011’s The Old Republic had same-sex options in the form of Theron Shan (a Republic agent) and Lana Beniko (a Sith). Newer expansion packs introduced Koth Vortena and Arcann. However, trans and non-binary characters only made their long-overdue foray into Star Wars canon this year thanks to Marvel Comics. Most open customization video games these days are beginning to adopt more progressive options during character creation — with popular mobile life simulation BitLife, The Sims, and the Fire Emblem series being notable examples — so it’s only a matter of time before Star Wars follows suit.