Minecraft isn’t just Steve’s world anymore. Yesterday, Mojang announced that they’ll be bringing a new female skin named Alex to console versions of the game.
This is far from a debut for Alex or female characters in Minecraft, though. She’s been hanging around the PC version of the game since last year, and female skins (like, say, Lisa Simpson) have been around for even longer than that. But, most of those skin packs cost money or existed as mods that require some measure of expertise to get working (that said, it’s expertise that most kids who play Minecraft probably have, anyway, to say nothing of adults).
The question of gender is a tricky one in Minecraft. Steve was never officially called Steve in the first place—the default Minecraft character was meant to be gender-neutral and nameless, but he eventually got nicknamed Steve, and it stuck. Maybe not surprising, because a featureless blocky humanoid is bound to look more male than female, out of context. So, somewhere along the line, the genderless game of Minecraft became a boys game, and left the girls wanting for someone who looked a little more like them (just, blockier).
Alex is a response to Steve becoming Steve. Mojang now notes that some of those blocks on Steve’s chin are now considered stubble, making Alex all the more necessary. Alex, who has longer hair and skinnier arms, has been assigned randomly to PC users starting fresh, making her a default alternative to Steve. In the console versions, she’ll be a downloadable skin available for free. So, while it’s important to note that this is pretty far from the first time a woman has been seen in Minecraft, it’s the first time that Mojang has recognized the existence of gender in Minecraft and adjusting default settings to reflect that.