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Notch, the creator of the game Minecraft, has said in a blog post that there is only one sex in the game, and any animal can breed with any other animal of the same species.

He uses the word "homosexual" to refer to this.

"Homo" comes from the Greek - 'same'.

Is there a more specific word for this? Or is it just a bit of an odd situation and thus kludging English words to fit is fine?

Edit for more clarity: In this question when I talk about "sexuality" I mean "sexual preference" - what word can I use to describe the sexual preference of creatures in a fictional world where there is only one sex?

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Homosexual in a single-sexed world doesn’t make any sense, because it makes one think there might be some other possibility. Pansexual or omnisexual also come to mind, but I think it should just be sexual. –  tchrist Aug 13 '12 at 2:04
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@tchrist but, relistically, in that universe the word 'sexual' itself would make no sense ... ! –  Elberich Schneider Aug 13 '12 at 5:48
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@StoneyB Sorry but that is just mincing words. Yes, I do realise that in the biological context, “sex” refers to the dichotomy of sexes. But meanings evolve. –  Konrad Rudolph Aug 13 '12 at 13:07
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@Konrad: a) Mincing words is what this site is all about! b) RTFA: Minecraft was designed to be a game where "gender isn't a gameplay element." On any reading of 'gender' except the linguistic—gender as a euphemism for 'sex', gender as social role or stereotype, sexual attraction is not operative. –  StoneyB Aug 13 '12 at 13:17
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@StoneyB: A number of real-life species, such as snails, have sex without having gender. They are still attracted to each other, and that attraction is still called "sexual attraction" by biologists. –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Aug 13 '12 at 15:12

5 Answers 5

up vote 18 down vote accepted

If you're referring purely to the reproductive question, and not the gender-orientation question, then I'd suggest using the terms from botany and bacterial biology. Plants and microbes don't follow the same reproductive habits most animals do.

Many plants have no distinction between male and female organisms. These plants are sometimes called unisex/unisexual "not distinguished on the basis of sex"; somewhat confusingly they are also called bisexual. Flowers that contain both male and female parts are called "perfect" or "synoecious"; and plants that have both male and female flowers are called "monoecious".

Bacteria can also reproduce with two (or more!) partners without having different biological sexes. This process is called conjugation.

EDITED TO ADD: If none of the above fit, I suggest the fine term "synsexual". Though very rare, it literally means having no distinct sexes. It seems to fit very well, has little baggage, and it's a cool word to boot.

perhaps even a hapax legomenon!

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The concept of unisexual or bisexual is not relevant in a world where there never was a sex to begin with. If sex just means reporduction, the concept of mono- or bi- would not come up just like monorespiration or birespiration does not come up –  bib Aug 13 '12 at 2:14
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@bib If we, speaking English and living in the real world looking in at Minecraft, want to describe the in-game situation as observers, then we do so from our own position of relevancy. If we meet a species with three sexes, we can call them trisexual. If a species reproduces by pair-mating but has no distinction between sexes, then I think it's fair for us in English to call them unisexual or synsexual. I agree bisexual doesn't make sense. –  Mark Beadles Aug 13 '12 at 2:29
    
part of the problem comes from our convention of using the word sex to mean both gender and reproductive stuff. I think the OP is mostly referring to the gender flavor of word. –  bib Aug 13 '12 at 2:37
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@bib I see it differently; I understand OP to be talking about reproductive stuff. He mentions breeding specifically. And Notch's article, regardless of his title, talks about physical characteristics. –  Mark Beadles Aug 13 '12 at 2:38
    
yes, the gender multiplicity, shift, difference IS meaningful to us because in HumanWorld we have the natural patterns of gender differentiation and affection orientation. In LHD the clash between Earth types and the tri-sex types makes for fascination. OP seems to be talking about "in the world of Minecraft", but if you are trying to explain the Minecraft repro/gender patterns to mere us-types, I understand the need to try to distinguish. "In some families, there are two Mommies . . ." and "In some worlds, there are two things called genders . . ." –  bib Aug 13 '12 at 2:57

I think the question is a bit vague. When you ask about sexuality, to what are you referring?

In a world of one gender, there is no gender. Attraction is to minecraft-folk. There is no homo- hetero- because those terms assume a distinction between different types for whom one might be oriented. Orientation indicates direction (actually, it means turning east). If there is only one type of person, there is only one direction and therefore, the very concept of direction is meaningless.

So what do you mean by sexuality?

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How about 'androgyny/androgynous/androgyne'? These usually connote a degree of 'sexlessness', an absence of the physical or behavioral characteristics associated with physiological sex; but I've also seen them applied by reviewers to describe the dominant humanoid species on the planet Karhide, invented by Ursula LeGuin in The Left Hand of Darkness. Her characters are capable, under certain stimuli, of developing either male or female sexual characteristics, so the same individual may at one time bear a child and at another beget one.

EDIT: I retract. @bib observes, correctly, that "In a world of one gender, there is no gender." Consequently OP's supplement—

"In this question when I talk about "sexuality" I mean "sexual preference" - what word can I use to describe the sexual preference of creatures in a fictional world where there is only one sex?"

can only be answered 'None'. However, a possible term for characterizing this state of affairs (which I believe was the sense of the original question) exists: asexual.

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+1 for LeGuin's early challenge to our concept of thinking about people as "male" or "female" when they are at least both, but the minecraft world is almost the opposite with a singleness of gender that renders it not there rather than shifting and nuanced. –  bib Aug 13 '12 at 2:19
    
I don't know, androgyny isn't quite right for the reasons @bib gave - it's not a combination of sexes, but either an absence or complete irrelevance of them. –  Mark Beadles Aug 13 '12 at 2:40
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Asexual isn't a good term in this case, because it means reproduction without the act of sex. An asexual creature (such as a single celled organism) can reproduce on its own without input from another creature. In Minecraft, you still need to collect two animals to breed them, so there is sexual reproduction happening. It just makes no distinction between male and female. –  KChaloux Aug 13 '12 at 15:48

If they “can breed with any other animal of the same species”, they must have both male and female reproductive organs, so they are hermaphrodite.

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Not necessarily. As Mark Beadles describes, in this world, there are approaches to reproduction that do not require male and female reproductive organs or any two-part gender morphology at all. In other evolutionary systems, it would surely be possible to come up with repro without duality of gender. –  bib Aug 13 '12 at 11:41
    
@bib You must be right, but I thought that if they were able to breed (=to mate, to copulate, to produce by mating) they had to have sexual organs. –  Albertus Aug 13 '12 at 14:52

It's a fictional world, so there may not be a perfectly-suited word for the concept, as it was freshly defined by its creator and given his particular nuances. Perhaps along with the concept, Notch should create a new fictional word for it? I kinda like metasexual. :-)

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