Bye, Bye, Birdo: Heroic Androgyny and Villainous Gender-Variance in Video Games

  • Meghan Blythe Adams
Part of the Palgrave Games in Context book series (PAGCON)


This chapter uses textual analysis to contrast heroic androgyny in series like The Legend of Zelda and NiGHTS with the mixing of gendered signifiers to convey the otherness of particular NPCs in games like Resident Evil: Dead Aim, Fable 2, and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. This chapter aims to problematize the global game industry’s acceptance of masculine-skewed androgyny as aesthetically pleasing and acceptable while portraying gender-variance as aesthetically displeasing and unacceptable. Ultimately, this chapter asks how we can interrogate the privileging of specific types of androgyny in queer games culture and criticism in response to its depiction in mainstream games culture.


  1. Andureau, William. 2012. Miyamoto, la Wii U et la secrete de la Triforce. Gamekult, 11 January.
  2. Carr, Diane. 2006. Computer Games: Text, Narrative and Play. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  3. Daly, Mary. 1973. Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  4. Farokhmanesh, Megan. 2014. Animating Women Should Take ‘Days,’ Says Assassin’s Creed 3 Animation Director. Polygon, 11 January.
  5. Hanson, Bruce K. 2011. Peter Pan on Stage and Screen 1904–2010. Jefferson: McFarland.Google Scholar
  6. Heilbrun, Carolyn. 1973. Toward a Recognition of Androgyny. Michigan: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  7. Hernandez, Patricia. 2014. Some People Think Link Might Be a Girl in the New Zelda. Kotaku, 11 June.
  8. Leeves, Sam. 2014. Culture Bytes: Androgyny in Video Games. Alt:Mag, 1 August.
  9. Li-Vollmer, Meredith, and Mark E. LaPointe. 2003. Gender Transgression and Villainy in Animated Film. Popular Communication 1 (2): 89–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Lorenzo-Cioldi, Fabio. 1996. Psychological Androgyny: A Concept in Search of Lesser Substance. Towards the Understanding of the Transformation of a Social Representation. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 26 (2): 137–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Marcotte, Jess. 2017. Queering Game Controls. Presentation at the Annual Convention of the Canadian Game Studies Association, Toronto, ON, May 31st to June 2nd, 2017.Google Scholar
  12. McLaughlin, Larin. 1999. Androgyny and Transcendence in Contemporary Corporate Culture. Cultural Critique 42: 188–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Morgan, Kathryn Pauly. 1982. Androgyny: A Conceptual Critique. Social Theory and Practice 8 (3): 254–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Phoenix, Lola. 2015. The Pursuit of Androgyny. Medium, 20 December.
  15. Putnam, Amanda. 2015. Mean Ladies: Transgendered Villains in Disney Films. In Diversity in Disney Films: Critical Essays on Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Sexuality and Disability, ed. Johnson Cheu, 147–162. London: MacFarland & Co.Google Scholar
  16. Reitz, Jennifer Diane. 2001. The First Transsexual Video Game Character?
  17. Sarkeesian, Anita. 2015. Ms. Male Character – Tropes vs Women in Video Games. Youtube, 15 December.
  18. Taylor, Mike. 2007. Interview: Takasha Iizuka Talks NiGHTS. Nintendo Life, 5 December.
  19. tha pirateninja. 2008. Androgyny in Video Games (Mainly JRPGS). 13 May.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meghan Blythe Adams
    • 1
  1. 1.Western UniversityLondonCanada

Personalised recommendations