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Minecraft lets you play as a girl, at last

Barry Collins
28 Apr 2015
Minecraft Alex
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Steve's not the only choice for Minecraft players any more

It's possibly the computer game with the greatest cross-gender appeal, yet most players have only ever been allowed to play as a boy. Now, in a long overdue nod to equality, Minecraft is finally allowing gamers to choose to play as a girl.

Until now, most Minecraft players have only had one choice of character to play with: Steve. Minecraft's developers, Mjoang, have long insisted that Steve merely represents the human form, and not a male character, but there's little doubt the avatar tilts towards masculinity - not least because of his name. 

Now, Microsoft-owned Mojang, says it's redressing the gender balance. "When most players begin their Minecraft adventure there aren’t many looks to choose from," reads a post on the Mojang blog. "In fact, you only get to play as our blue-shirted friend. Now, everyone loves Steve – he’s probably the most famous minecrafter in the world, and has excellent stubble."

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"But jolly old Steve doesn’t really represent the diversity of our playerbase," the blog adds. "For that reason, we’re giving all players opportunity to play with an Alex skin instead. She brings thinner arms, redder hair, and a ponytail."

Mojang has previously defended its decision to stick solely with Steve, arguing that the character was androgynous. "If it wasn’t for the fact that the default Minecraft character is referred to as 'Minecraft Guy' and that I once jokingly answered 'Steve?' when asked what his name was, Minecraft would be a game where gender isn’t a gameplay element," Mojang's founder Markus 'Notch' Persson wrote in 2012, on a blog entitled Gender in Minecraft.

"The human model is intended to represent a human being. Not a male human being or a female human being, but simply a human being," Persson added. "The blocky shape gives it a bit of a traditional masculine look, but adding a separate female mesh would just make it worse by having one specific model for female human beings and male ones. That would force players to make a decisions about gender in a game where gender doesn’t even exist."

It seems Mojang, now without Persson and with the corporate eye of Microsoft looking over its shoulder, has changed its mind. Alex was originally introduced into the PC version of the game, but gamers couldn't choose to be her: she was randomly assigned as an alternative to Steve. Now console players will be able to pick between them, and Alex will arrive on Pocket editions of the game later this year. 

Players are also free to design or download their own skins. A Simpsons skin pack, for example, has just been added to the PlayStation version of the game, having previously been released for the Xbox. 

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