Pokemon games tend to retain some beloved features from the existing games and build upon them, such as regional variants in Pokemon Sun and Moon. For example, Pokemon X and Y introduced Mega Evolutions, which were retained in Generation 7 before ultimately being removed in Generation 8 to make room for Dynamaxing and Gigantamaxing. Not long ago Nintendo of America expressed interest in the idea of introducing non-binary Pokemon, which would be different from the existing genderless and Legendary Pokemon, but such a major shift would require changes across the board.
Pokemon can be either male, female, or genderless in the current framework of games, and this binary view might be complicated to reshape when features like breeding exist. The second Generation of Pokemon games introduced the concept of breeding, which lets two Pokemon left at the Daycare potentially yield an eggs that players can hatch - though it's largely limited to male and female pairings. There are several other elements to Pokemon games that are based on gender, such as abilities, moves, and evolutions. If Pokemon with different gender identities are to be introduced, all these aspects of the games may have to undergo changes to a degree.
Why Pokemon Games' Gender-Based Features Should Change
Breeding is the most complex feature to potentially change because it works for genderless Pokemon paired with a Ditto, and it encompasses different species at once by assigning each Pokemon to an egg group. This means that two very different Pokemon species could still yield an egg if they are from the same egg group, but the Pokemon coming out of the egg is always the same species as the mother. While sound from the mechanics of breeding for competitive traits in Pokemon's meta, if the series were to take different gender identities into consideration this becomes more complex. Breeding should become something that doesn't necessarily require binary gender roles.
There are also gender-based moves in Pokemon games, such as Attract, that may fail depending on the genders of the Pokemon in battle. The Pokemon using Attract will only hit against Pokemon of the opposing gender, failing against same-sex or genderless Pokemon. This category is the easiest to fix, as similar moves or abilities could be introduced that start to work on all Pokemon of different genders and gender identities as well.
Lastly, Pokemon games come with gender-based evolutions for some Pokemon species, such as Salandit evolving into Salazzle only if the base Pokemon is female. Similar evolutionary links hold true for Combee and Vespiquen, for those more familiar with Generation 4. There are also Pokemon that have completely different evolution lines based on their genders, such as the Nidoran being either male or female and evolving into either Nidoking or Nidoqueen, respectively.
The Nidoran family could act as a catalyst for change in the Pokemon series, as non-binary Pokemon or those with other gender identities could get their own versions of the Nidoran line through something like a regional variant. Gendered evolutions are fine as they are, as many mimic natural ideas like Vespiquen as a queen bee, but the series could still introduce Pokemon in the future to offer better representation.
Some will argue that Pokemon games are designed for children, so more simplicity is understandable. However, it's also true that many Pokemon fans are older, having evolved beyond the series' maturity, and newer generations of players are different than those in the past. This should be enough to warrant more diversity and appropriate representation for everyone, including through Pokemon's game mechanics.
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For those about to rock, James Gunn wants to help with that, thanks to his official (partial) playlist for his upcoming series, Peacemaker.
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