In ACNH, the stereotypical, traditionally harsh lines of gender are blurred. Sam,* 26, and Alex*, 26, a couple based in New Jersey, sense queerness in their town, which they share. “Our villagers also have queer energy,” Sam told Supermaker, “like Pietro, the sweet gay rainbow clown, and Gayle and Merengue, who we spotted together on a date to the museum once.”
For Polygon, Patricia Hernandez dives into the relationship between characters C.J. and Flick, who oversee the fishing tournament and bug-off, respectively. “Even if the official word is that the two are just bros, now that Nintendo has put New Horizons into the world, it doesn’t really belong to them anymore. I mean, sure, they own it,” Hernandez writes. “It would be nice for Nintendo to confirm what everyone wants to hear, but no matter what the Japanese company says, fans have already decided what the pair means to them.”
Video games as a safe space
Mainstream video game culture has long been notoriously homophobic, with white men imagining themselves the rulers of what is and isn’t true fan culture, but, once out in the world, video games can be “queered.”
“In talking about queering straight games, I use ‘queer’ as a verb,” explains 2019’s Video Games Have Always Been Queer by Bonnie Ruberg. “To queer is to disrupt, to shift, to change the orientation (so to speak) of a video game or other product of culture so that it turns toward non-heteronormative identity in desire.” Ruberg explores the way that, despite video game culture itself being one of heteronormativity, violence, and shame directed at both queer gamers and the queer people behind the games themselves, queer people are able to apply their own experiences and identities to their gaming experiences. Do I think, outright, that ACNH is a gay video game that prioritizes queer users and LGBTQIA+ representation? Not at all. But do I think that it’s uniquely poised to provide representation if only via the imaginations and power of their user-base? Absolutely.