Worth Reading: A Close Look At Final Fantasy VII’s Crossdressing Scene

Worth Reading: A Close Look At Final Fantasy VII’s Crossdressing Scene

It might be a slow month for games, but there’s plenty of smart things being said about them.

Hey, You Should Read This

Assuming the Final Fantasy VII remake is ever actually released (when is Kingdom Hearts III shipping again?), plenty of material might be subject to change. Sarah Nyberg has a terrific breakdown of what’s interesting about Final Fantasy VII‘s crossdressing moment with Cloud Strife. It’d be easy to think such a sequence from 1997 would have all sorts of problems in 2015, and while it’s definitely not perfect, it’s not a scene explicitly designed to get a cheap laugh.

Final Fantasy VII’s crossdressing does not fall into the same trap as Fallout 4’s trailer: the joke is not simply that there’s a man in a dress. Throughout the entire ordeal, Aeris follows you and is excited, flirty and encouraging. People in the town are occasionally surprised, but never overtly bigoted or hostile. Other people in the area crossdress, it isn’t a secret, and they’re accepted among their friends.

The joke, in the case of VII, was Cloud’s (and, by extension, the player’s) sense of discomfort despite there not being any real reason to be uncomfortable in the first place. Discussions about the negative aspects of VII’s portrayal of crossdressing — the stigmatization of other queer characters, the way Cloud’s boundaries become a joke inside the brothel — are important and necessary. Nonetheless, even two decades later, there are things about Cloud’s crossdressing sequence in Wall Market that I think Final Fantasy VII got right — and that modern games are still getting wrong.

Nothing goes according to plan, but the developers behind No Time to Explain hardly expected their publisher to promise a bunch of money and walk away halfway through development. It forced TinyBuild to release a game it wasn’t entirely proud of simply to try and make ends meet. The whole sordid saga is outlined in a blog post on their website, timed to the re-release of No Time to Explain, and it’s more than a little heartbreaking. Luckily, it seems to have worked out.

This shock came to us after three months of silence, time during which we had no idea what was going on. And of course, it wasn’t like the two of us had the money for an international court case against a Russian company, so there wasn’t really anything we could do.

A recap of our situation:

  • We had no access to Steam
  • We suddenly had half the budget, and we’d already nearly used the lot
  • We had a half-hacked together prototype made in Flash

We did what we’re still doing at tinyBuild to this day — we decided to wing it. Steam didn’t want to publish the game based on our hacky prototype (and probably for good reason), so we came up with an idea.

If You Click It, It Will Play

Oh, And This Other Stuff

  • Kelly Flatley wondered if Rise of the Tomb Raider was ignoring Lara Croft’s PTSD.
  • Tony Coles examined what made Fallout: New Vegas so damn good.
  • Tom Massey went inside one of Shangai’s coolest and most important arcades.
  • Diana Bass profiled how Robbie Bach saved the original Xbox from destruction — twice.
  • Justin Davis broke down what’s going on with those wild Mario ROM hacks.
  • Keith Stuart wrote up a Randy Pitchford keynote where he talked about the Alien debacle.
  • Engadget argued Nintendo didn’t get the Wii U wrong — we did.
  • Justin Keever found more to say about Desert Golfing than one could ever imagine.

You can reach the author of this post at patrick.klepek@kotaku.com or on Twitter at @patrickklepek.


  • Final Fantasy VII’s crossdressing does not fall into the same trap as Fallout 4’s trailer: the joke is not simply that there’s a man in a dress

    What joke? There was no joke. They simply scrolled past a selection of outfits you can wear to show you there’s no limitation. They didn’t mock crossdressing or anything. The player character didn’t look down with a ‘what have I gotten myself into’ reaction, the camera didn’t switch to the dog tilting his head. They didn’t make fun of it, just showed it.

    • Exactly what I was thinking. How does passively acknowledging the option of a male character wearing a dress suddenly make it mocking?

  • I think someone’s looking too closely for hidden meanings into Cloud crossdressing. It was a lighthearted break in the middle of a serious game. Can’t something just be entertainment for entertainment sake?

    • No everything has serious meaning. Now I’m going to find out how Inside Out connects to the Pixar Universe.

  • The article about Nintendo and the Wii U frustrates me no end. They insist on perpetuating the myth that games need to be “fun” to have any worth. That is simply not true. Games have evolved far from their humble beginnings as mere entertainment and mindless distractions. Now they can be art, or education or simply an escape. They have unique storytelling properties unwatched by any other medium. They can explore ideas and issues in a way that’s more tangible and credible, enhanced by a real sense of immersion and empathy.

    Back in the 80s/90s we expected less from our games but there have been so many watershed moments in the past 20 years that the bar has been raised. But Nintendo have singularly failed to change their mentality in this regard. While there will be always be a place for fun in videogames, you have to realise that if fun is all you’re offering, you’re product is going to have limited appeal. That’s why Nintendo consoles reach saturation quite quickly. Aside from the Wii (which was an anomaly, fortuitously cashing in on the casual market that was begin to coalesce) Nintendo console sale figures reflect the number of people who are satisfied having nothing but “fun” games.

    Few of the games I consider to be the greatest of all time are thought of as “fun”. Games like Spec Ops: The Line, The Last of Us or Journey did not “entertain” but instead provided a narrative or aesthetic experience on par with or even beyond anything I’ve had in the traditional media of film, TV and literature. I want these games to be what people see and think of when they think of gamers.

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