South Park video game ‘more difficult’ if you pick a transgender character
You can get beaten up for being transgender in a new South Park video game.
Upcoming game South Park: The Fractured But Whole was previewed to press by developer Ubisoft this week, ahead of its official release next month.
Reports from journalists who played the early-access demo revealed that the game includes a crude social commentary – by becoming harder if your character is trans or black.
It was revealed that the game offers players a ‘difficulty’ slider on its character creation screen. Picking ‘easy’ gives the character pale white skin, while picking ‘very difficult’ gives them dark skin.
The game also adds an option for a character to identify as transgender, which adds extra transphobic attacks throughout the game.
In a scene early in the game, school counsellor Mr Mackey asks the player to pick a gender for the character – either ‘Male, Female or Other’ – despite the same player character being exclusively male in a previous game.
The counsellor explains: “As your counsellor you can talk to me about anything. I understand you want to talk about gender.
“I’m highly trained in sex issues, you don’t have to be afraid. It’s really simple. When you want to talk about your sex, you can start by simply saying I’m a boy or a girl or other.”
If the player picks ‘female’, Mr Mackey is confused, as the main character in the previous South Park video game was a boy.
The player then has to pick whether they are a ‘cisgender’ or ‘transgender’ girl.
If ‘transgender’ is picked Mr Mackey explains: “Well, this is a shock. Perhaps we should clarify exactly what you mean by a girl.
“Someone like your classmate, she’s what we would call a cisgender girl, meaning she was born a girl. There are also some people in this world who identify as something different from what they were born with, and we call those people transgender.
“Do you identify as being cisgender or transgender?”
If a player picks transgender, the counsellor adds: “That’s fine, I didn’t know you were in the middle of a… can you hang on a minute? I need to call your parents.”
Speaking to the parents, he says: “I know she’s a girl, but she just let me know that she’s a transgender girl. It doesn’t matter, of course, not… no, you’re right, she was definitely a girl the whole time [in the previous game.”
If ‘other’ is picked, the counsellor says: “This is a shocker, but there’s nothing wrong with not identifying as a binary gender. You can be whatever sex you want, OK, even if it’s none. That’s fine!”
If a player picks one of the trans or non-binary options immediately after leaving the office, the player is attacked by ‘rednecks’ in a truck.
They scream “well, well, well, if it a’int a transgender girl[ or ‘one of them gender neutrals’]? We don’t take kindly to your types around here. Let’s welcome this thing to our town!”
The battle does not happen if you pick a cisgender boy or girl.
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Check out a gameplay clip below:
The game’s developers explained that a character’s identity will also change how other non-player characters react to you, and how much money you are paid for tasks in the game.
The social commentary is surprisingly nuanced for South Park, which is hardly known for its politically correct approach to issues.
The show has become somewhat more ‘socially conscious’ in recent years, though still often employs crude homophobic and transphobic jokes