222: Not That There's Anything Wrong With That

Robert Yang

Always Gets Everything Wrong
May 22, 2009
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Not That There's Anything Wrong With That

For straight gamers, videogames can often be an escape from a painful reality. But for gay gamers, videogames offer little respite from prejudice and homophobia. Robert Yang recalls his experience developing a Half-Life 2 mod featuring gay characters and the response it provoked.

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Angerwing

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Jun 1, 2009
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That's always been one of the things I don't get about homophobia: Just because they like men, doesn't mean they like YOU. Not every woman in the world is clamouring to have sex with every man, just like every gay man doesn't want to jump the bones of every other man. I liked this article a lot. Yet homophobia seems to be the most common intolerance around. A whole bunch of my WoW Guild Mates shat brix when I told them the Spartans were all homosexual, and got annoyed when I told them why. One of them even got quite hostile with me, and still won't use my name without adding some expletive.
 

Sebenko

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Dec 23, 2008
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I played Handle with care when if was first released.

Good fun, and doesn't make that big a deal of the whole gay thing, really.
Honestly, it felt about as gay as my gay relationship. Which, from my point of view, doesn't feel that gay. It's just love.

Although really, I don't see a need for gay characters in games. If a character is revealed to be gay in a game, it evokes about the same response from me as an easter egg with some cultural reference to, say, a band I like.
 

bobknowsall

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Aug 21, 2009
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Angerwing said:
That's always been one of the things I don't get about homophobia: Just because they like men, doesn't mean they like YOU. Not every woman in the world is clamouring to have sex with every man, just like every gay man doesn't want to jump the bones of every other man.
Took the words right out of my mouth there, mate.

Articles like this are one of the things that makes me damn proud of the Escapist. Mature and frank discussions of subjects like gender and homophobia on a gaming site? Say it isn't so!

While I doubt that the gaming community will become truly acceptant (as opposed to "tolerant", which seems to imply that gays are a nuisance) of openly gay people, it'd be great to see less hate speech while playing online.
 

Fithakk

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Jul 21, 2009
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I find nothing wrong with having gay characters in games, and I wish gamers in general could be more tolerant. Hell, I wish people were more tolerant.
As a straight guy, I still find homophobia one of the most disgusting things in the world.
 

Valkyira

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Mar 13, 2009
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Fithakk said:
I find nothing wrong with having gay characters in games, and I wish gamers in general could be more tolerant. Hell, I wish people were more tolerant.
As a straight guy, I still find homophobia one of the most disgusting things in the world.
Well said my friend
 

TheRealCJ

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Mar 28, 2009
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You lost me at 'Weird, prentious Art-House mods for Half-Life 2'.

But seriously, Counter-Strike is the Halo of the PC. I'm suprised you didn't get a face full of terrorist crotch and a carefully worded (yet appalingly spelled) essay on why you're gay, who you're gay with, and the precise details of your sordid affair.

As for that postman, well, you're always going to get nutjobs. I personally know quite a number of people (not all old men, mind you), who think Women's rights are a joke, get back in the kitchen etc.

In fact, I get the feeling that as a gamer, you're more likely to be accepted as Gay: the majority of 'hardcore' gamers are in the 18-24/30 bracket, and as such are all memebers of Gen X/Y; the most accomodating and accepting western generation to date.

The point is, you're just as likely to get called a 'retard' as you are a 'fag'. I should find this offensive (I have Asperger's syndrome, quite acute-bird............................), but it's just part of the background noise when you're playing online. Usually nothing is meant by it, and (unless you're playing on that hive of idiocy, Xbox Live) if you explain that you take offence, most people will try to avoid using certain words and phrases.

A problem I have is that often, in game, a gay/lesbian/furry/woman/scatologist/all-of-the-above etc. will muscle their way in, and demand that we walk around of eggshells in the off-chance that we say something even slightly offensive. Not to mention they usually get huffy when we don't treat them with the utmost respect because "I'm gay, damnit, look at how brave I am to come out to people on the internet". But, I suppose the G.I.F.T. works on everybody, regardless of sexual preference.

... Bloody hell this is turning into an article all of itself, so I think I'll stop no, the hole is plenty deep already.
 

high_castle

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Apr 15, 2009
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Great article. I've long said games should incorporate more gay characters, especially RPGs that love to go on about the player's freedom to choose (everything but romantic partners, apparently). My family has quite a few gay and lesbian members, and growing up we were all very close. It's probably why I'm so passionate about gay rights. I also you to game with my cousin when we were kids and teenagers. He happens to be gay. It really made the lack of gay characters in commercial games a very glaring oversight. For those of you without exposure to the gay community, you might not have noticed it at all. Or it might not seem like that big a deal. But it is. Because the undertone it sends is one of a lack of acceptance at the gay community.

Television and film have been opening the doors for more nuanced gay characters in stronger, more important roles. But video games are lagging behind. I've said it before, I don't know how an inclusion of a gay character could possibly be a bad thing. It would attract another fan base, and even if it did generate controversy (a la Bully), controversy tends to sell units. And anyway, I haven't heard anything negative about The Ballad of Gay Tony thus far. So perhaps we as a society are growing up. A girl can dream, anyway.
 

Ryokugax

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Sep 9, 2009
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I'm gay and that end paragraph using suggestive imagery based around modern male protagonists getting it on fills me with no end of horror and dread.

Gay main characters or just general gay characters knocking about in the background fixing things, operating computers or possibly beating the shit out of something, whatever, there's always going to be a paranoid closet-case freaking out because they fear that the gay character will come out of the screen, The Ring style, and dress them in pastels, make them wear a beret and stuff quiche down their throats.
 

k-ossuburb

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Jul 31, 2009
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You say that games wouldn't sell if they had gay characters but what if they were lesbian? Just plucking the most obvious example from the air here, but look at the porn industry, the most common male fantasy is the "threesome" and it's most accessible form is in lesbian porn (you + two girls behind a glass screen= threesome in your brain since it's too lazy to make much of a distinction anyway).

Now, don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying that all women are sex objects and we should exploit a profitable sexual orientation (lesbianism) for the benefit of making a quick buck, but if a game company were to make a game with a lesbian character I'll bet you that that's there area they'll focus on the most just to lure in the majority of the demographic (males between the ages of 16~30). Look at any other game with a female protagonist if you don't believe me.

I would like to see a game that merely suggests that your character is a lesbian and uses the stronger aspects of it to make her character a little less one dimensional. If the developers are smart they'd have just as much profit from it by making it a cult classic instead of a simple male fantasy. For example, imagine that the female (lesbian) character is a kick-ass bounty hunter, her sexual orientation would come in handy to suggest how she got into that role as one of the contributing factors, you could even have her girlfriend as the geeky character who handles all the tech, maybe the geeky girlfriend gets killed in a dramatic explosion and that's what powers the story into the rest of the game.

What I'm saying is, how is a straight relationship any different than a gay one? Pick up the comic "Love And Rockets" if you want a better understanding of it (which I recommend because it's really good) the only difference is superficial but if used in the right way can be a lot more effective in giving a more emotionally gripping storyline than the same old straight characters can.

If the female bounty hunter's other half was a guy it would have much less of an emotional effect than the geeky girlfriend since we've seen guys in games die all the time (and probably killed a few ourselves) but the happy, geeky, loving and friendly girlfriend would have more emotional impact because it's the whole "aww she's so cute" thing (obviously she'll be a cute, happy character, it's just basic character dynamics to balance a strong main character with an "innocent" secondary character, take Earthworm Jim and Peter Puppy for example).

What I'm mainly waffling on about is that the emotional ties between the main character and her side-kick cum girlfriend would be strong and easily explainable to allow for a smooth and uncomplicated storyline gumming up the game play, the main character can be female, therefore she'd be more awesome than your average male character because it's more exciting to have a female lead in an action game (look at the success of the first three (good) Tomb Raiders) and you can get a lot of mileage out of her back story to boot. But if she were straight and her secondary character were male you'd feel like you've seen it all before and quickly get bored no matter how well it's written.

(For the record, I was a pink-haired lesbian in Fallout 3, I dated Butterkip in Little Big Town, I was still the baddest mofo in the Wastelands and my dad loved me until the day he died. The story works no matter what sexual orientation you are, but doesn't it make it so much more interesting to add your own little twist?)
 

Swaki

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Apr 15, 2009
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despite my 3 month relationship whit a guy i wouldn't call my self gay, gay means that i was physically attracted to him, which i wasn't, i was only whit him because he was sweet, smart, funny guy i had allot in common whit and could spend 20 hours talking whit and every second of would be heaven for me, but i am asexual and have no sexual desires (which was why he broke up whit me, perfectly understandable) and as such every sexual relationship in games annoy me, it wouldn't matter if the kickass awesome superhero fell in love whit a female whit close to no shirt that revealed her tremendous boobs or whit a male whit close to no shirt that revealed his amazing 6 pack at first glance, it makes no sense to me and annoys me.

if the game developers need their character to fall in love for them to live happily ever after, then they should give us a reason, and as long as they refuse to give us a reason to fall in love beside "boobs are awesome" its a long shot to hope for a gay hero, but who knows, maybe in the future we will see main stream games where the hero falls in love because "six packs are awesome".
 

Hyetal

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Feb 2, 2009
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I found your game pretty damn interesting. I still couldn't play more than 20 minutes. It was just so g--eh, gelatinous.

That was a poor joke, I admit. I just couldn't find a word that started with G and also meant really shitty gameplay. Nah, that's unfair too. I guess you said it yourself. Frustrating. I would've liked to finish it, actually.
 

SnowCold

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Oct 1, 2008
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The only thing that pissed me off about his game is that someone would put their time to use the source engine for a FREAKING MARRIAGE SIM! Gay or not!

...Unless, it's the story of a man with such a bad marriage life, that he kills his husband/wife and goes on an office shoot-out...

...I would play that...
 

Uncompetative

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Jul 2, 2008
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Characters and Story have almost no place in games. Maybe in twenty-years time the technology will be there to simulate interpersonal drama in the form of a kind of improvisation theatre, where theme and character biographies can be leveraged off of the back of sophisticated AI and the graphics can animate the subtlest, half-suppressed, human hurt - but the phenomenal expense of creating an interactive Ingmar Bergman whilst ordinary, passive, Cinema already satisfies audiences, makes this seem unlikely to ever happen.
 

BuggyBY

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Ryokugax said:
I'm gay and that end paragraph using suggestive imagery based around modern male protagonists getting it on fills me with no end of horror and dread.

Gay main characters or just general gay characters knocking about in the background fixing things, operating computers or possibly beating the shit out of something, whatever, there's always going to be a paranoid closet-case freaking out because they fear that the gay character will come out of the screen, The Ring style, and dress them in pastels, make them wear a beret and stuff quiche down their throats.
That description of closet-cases' fears was hilarious, and I am now hoping someone uses it as inspiration for a flash animation. You may want to suggest it to Landover Baptist or other satire sites - but then, their party line would be that most if not all computer games are for wimpy godless gays who will surely burn in hell for all eternity.
 

p1ne

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Nov 20, 2007
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Well, everybody else has already said "great article", but... it is!

(Plus, if I had wanted to complain about gay rights and the pervasiveness of homophobia, I wouldn't bother with building an entire videogame to send a message; instead, I'd write a long-winded article and publish it on a well-trafficked online website about videogames ... well, all hypothetically speaking, of course.)
^hehe.
 

Pink_Pirate

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Jul 11, 2009
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Good article. I think that as soon as we stop main a big deal out of putting gay characters in games its going to stop being an issue. Characters in games should not be gay for the sake of being gay, or to promote gay rights or to piss people of, they should be gay if it fits with the story. Simple as that. I think people will find it much easier to accept a character if he is gay because it's just who he is, rather than a flamboyant queen who is just there so some gay developer can give the finger to bigots. Am I making sense here?