Two big farming games are one-upping Stardew Valley on non-binary representation

Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life
(Image credit: Marvelous/XSEED)

Farming games were prevalent enough at yesterday's Nintendo Direct to give even the most ardent Stardew Valley fan pause, but two of the biggest titles on display are making some welcome strides for non-binary representation.

Harvestella, Square Enix's union of farming RPGs and traditional JRPGs, shadow dropped a demo during the Direct, and players quickly noted that there are three gender options during character creation: male, female, and non-binary. Your appearance options aren't locked behind the gender choice at all, so you can freely pick between appearances while having the game make use of whatever pronouns you've decided on.

Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life was also shown at the Direct, and it's also getting similar representation options. As confirmed in a press release, the game will give you the "option to play as a male, female, or non-binary protagonist," and the devs note that you'll have "all eligible marriage candidates available for romance regardless of that choice."

Stardew Valley reinvigorated the genre on its release in 2016, and it helped to normalize same-sex marriage as an option among the many farming games that would follow. But even Stardew Valley's characters are locked to the gender binary, leading to mods offering the gender neutral option to becoming extremely popular.

Neither Harvestella or A Wonderful Life are the first farming games to feature non-binary character creation. Indie game Pumpkin Days, released in 2021, advertises its non-binary character creator on its store page, and the sheer volume of indie farming RPGs means it's difficult to pin down just how many offer similar options. But it's still notable to see major publishers and long-running series tackling this kind of representation.

Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life is a remake of the Gamecube title Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life, which in its original form only allowed you to play as a male character with female romance options. A re-release called Another Wonderful Life swapped the genders so that you could play a female character with male romantic partners, a common tactic for the series, but it wasn't until 2020's Friends of Mineral Town remake that the series finally even allowed for same-sex romance.

Even The Sims 4 just got full pronoun options earlier this year.

Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.