Guest Editor's Note: Queer Eye for the Gamer Guy

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Guest Editor's Note: Queer Eye for the Gamer Guy

This week, The Escapist tackles the at times fraught relationship between videogames and the LGBT community.

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Zangief gay? nothing makes sense anymore.

OT: I don't think that games with a gay main character would sell because of the insecure and therefore homophobic nature of the industry. I think that a lot of gamers are way to homophobic to even consider playing as a gay main character.

Edit: Tingle's gay? Now that I simply cannot accept

I've always been pretty sure that both Link and Mario were gay, I mean all that adventuring to get some princess who then gets captured once more, its like some unconscious need to get rid of her all over again.

The main issue is this bullshit "gay panic" they use as a defense in court as well as a reason not to consider the LGBT community as a useful source for a protagonist. The reason for this is because it still seems to be an "us and them" mindset, and if you play as one of THEM you are one of THEM. At this moment in time it'll be quite difficult to push for LGBT characters because rather than treating the community as just something that's there, mainstream still tiptoes around it.

Eoin Livingston:
Edit: Tingle's gay? Now that I simply cannot accept

I know, right? The mind boggles!

I'd have to agree that I don't see a game with a gay main character selling amazingly well, although this is probably due to the pessimism I generally feel towards our society as a result of my own deep-seated sexual insecurities. I just feel that it limits down the scope of the character somewhat; taking away an area of relatability or fantastical ambition from the shambling hordes of the "majority demographic!". Gamers generally either want to play as characters they can relate to, or would aspire to be like (or at least I think they do).

Barring an actually gay main character, we could however look upon characters who could be said to have a gay sensibility about them; who follow themes of persecution, marginilization, alienation or internalized hatred. Not that a character with these traits seems in anyway appealing, at second glance... Still, while not alienating (hmmm... twice in as many sentences) the majority, gay gamers can still take something away from the experience.

Although... this doesn't address the issue of LGBT visibility, which, as I understand, is very important. Once again, if gay main characters are (temporarily) kept off the table, we can always look to significant NPC's or supporting characters to fill in the void. As you mentioned before, The Ballad of Gay Tony is poised to do as such (fingers crossed).

I think lesbian/gay relationships were possible in The Sims and Mass Effect as well...

Zangief gay? WHAT?

If people only play who they want to be, why do so many straight guys I know play as females on EVERY MMO they come across?

As a curious question...
Does it matter if a game does or does not come out where the male lead character just happens to be gay? Even if it does happen, would any gay (or straight) person be happy about it?
I mean lets break it down a bit.

If they are obviously gay, alot of people will say they are picking on gay people, however if they show no tendancies towards any sexual prefference yet they were marked as 'gay' just... because, then they would get comments in return saying "Why did you make this guy gay? there was no need! your just trying to capitalise on the homosexual market" or other such things, pointing out the irrelevance of determining the sexuality of a character who shows no sexuality as it is (IE: Gordon Freeman. I know he is a blank character the player is ment to decide how he thinks and feels, however labeling him gay or any other character in similar circumstances where their sexual prefference means nothing is only encouraging problems. Just like if a straight character said flat out "I don't like any of that homosexual stuff it disguists me!" how many hate letters do you think they will get?)

Thats just an initial thought, however, after that is another issue where 'minority' or 'under-represened' groups (gay, black, latino etc. people who generally arn't in video games).
Should a writter that is a straight white man (who is famous for writing stories of straight white men) write a story about a gay latino girl purely because the demographic is under-represented, and he has previously never catered to that group before? No. We all know what happens when people step out of their comfort zones, doing things they arn't used to doing, they stuff it up hardcore. not just "oh that was bad" but theres always a few groups of people saying it was unintentionally offencive.

However, I don't know if the editor guy who wrote that (who will never read this post but whatever) knew. But in fallout 3, in rivet city, flak n shrappnel (the gun shop owners) were APPARENTLY gay.
I was reading around alot of information for the game and found out that certain gay groups had commended bethesda on including a gay couple. I never saw that. I saw 2 guys who owned a store together, and shared a room in a city with very minimal living space, which just makes sence since they never SAID anything about it and noone else did either.
To me, thats just throwing in a token gay couple to try and either garner extra support or stir up a little contraversy (but make sure that whatever the issue is, if it went bad they can sweep it under the table like it never existed).
However finding out that there have been gay couples snuck into video games right under our noses (SHOCK!) makes you question EVERY person and/or male couple just like a rabbid yaoi fan girl claiming that every single man in every single story is gay for eachother (not all are like that just the rabbid ones) and then for all we know there is a secret part in half life 3 coming up, where we explore gordon freemans coming to terms with who he truely is and finally speaking his first words "I am gay" :O DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN

tl;dr
Theres no NEED to specifically point out a random character is gay unless it has relevance to the story of the game. When guys are shown to love women it's generally to a) give them a bit more character so that you can understand and relate to them more or b) explain why a guy is fighting off hordes of demons to save one clumsy little ***** who should be able to look after herself.

I wouldn't mind seeing more LGBT characters in games. Not to flesh out the represented demographic but just because they happen to be, without regards to it affecting the character.

I don't deny that it wouldn't be interesting to see more characters like that. However personally I don't see why characters need to BE anything. Prime example: Samus.
She is a girl, who is doing a kickass job as a bounty hunter and doing it better then almost any body else in the field. Could she be a BLT? (bisexual, lesbian or transexual... I couldn't help it) I don't think it matters. If we find out that she was BLT, did that change any of her previous exploits? and unless they introduce more characters to the series, will it change future exploits? She will always remain the same person, even if she was straight. Labeling characters that don't NEED labels your only alienating others or encouraging certain people not to like the character where other people who already liked it will like it more, purely losing fans in the process however some fans will more more endeared to the character because of it. Again, with Samus, I know a few people who were put off her (for some reason) because it turned out she was a girl (and this was back in SNES days. You only knew she was a girl at the end if you beat the game fast enough) However other people who were already fans (and probably would have remained fans regardless if she ever exited her suit or not) just grew closer while others rejected the idea. (of course, her turning out to be female did cause some fans to cling to her tighter then they would have otherwise and thuse it kept that franchise alive)

I'd be more then happy to play any game regardles of what sort of GTBLS BS they are aslong as they focus more on making the game good and focus less on making a big deal out of whatever they work into the character.

This reminds me of a modder for Oblivio and Morrowind, who was female, and made skimpy outfits for male characters.

From what I remember, someone who was just starting to download mods for Oblivion found her website and mods, and told many people about it. She came under so much criticism, that she eventually just quit, and took all her mods with her.

However, after that pretty much the entire Elder Scrolls community came to her support, and eventually got her to making mods and putting up her old ones again.

I guess the moral of the story is that for every homophobe there is, there are 2 more people who aren't. Homophobes are just the loudest, and get heard the most. While the people who don't care just don't say anything, because they don't care.

Thats my theory at least.

hansari:
I think lesbian/gay relationships were possible in The Sims and Mass Effect as well...

From what I remeber, you could only have a lesbian relationship in Mass Effect if you played as a woman. No gay relationship.

Speaking as a straight (but not narrow, as the bumper sticker tells it) mother of two, I think it's great that the Escapist is shining the spotlight on the marginalized demo of gay gamers and LGBT depictions (or the lack thereof) in video games. Not only does it speak volumes about the growing acceptance of gays in the mainstream gaming culture, and culture in general, it also implies that Escapist readers are mature and accepting enough to discuss a 'controversial' topic such as this without allowing the conversation to devolve into slurs and hate speech. Props all around!

Now if you guys would only do a profile on us codger gamers...

Irridium:

From what I remeber, you could only have a lesbian relationship in Mass Effect if you played as a woman. No gay relationship.

And that never made any sense to me.
Let's face it, even a convinced heterosexual man playing a firmly heterosexual character ought to choose Kaidan over the unspeakable horror that is Ashley Williams.
Thank heavens they managed to salvage that mess with the help of interstellar lesbianism.

Anywho, when push comes to shove, I think we could all take a leaf out of Simone de Beauvoir's book:

"In itself, homosexuality is as limiting as heterosexuality: the ideal should be to be capable of loving a woman or a man; either, a human being, without feeling fear, restraint, or obligation."

Really I think it is often just a matter of allowing you to play the character as gay if wanted in games where you can choose things about your character. Much like it is in the sims, your character can be gay if you want, but it isn't something forced.

In games where they develop all the characters stories separately, there it would be nice to see some more glbt characters on the good guys side.

I'd love to see a game that had a big, manly, space marine type character, where you killed lots of people and everything, and it's just mentioned nonchalantly like, halfway through that he's gay or whatever. It'd be interesting to see the reaction.

That is a well written article. I agree with the puberty of the gaming industry, it's mostly about manliness and sex to sell mentality. Give it a few years and a good design team, you could see some real progress.

I actually think the level of homoeroticness in some of these games, such as Gears of War, is astoundingly un-noticed by homophobes.

I mean really, massive muscle-covered men tramping around with voice-boxes paved with gravel and trying to make hilariously funny remarks doesn't seem a tiny bit suspicious?

LiquidGrape:

Anywho, when push comes to shove, I think we could all take a leaf out of Simone de Beauvoir's book:

"In itself, homosexuality is as limiting as heterosexuality: the ideal should be to be capable of loving a woman or a man; either, a human being, without feeling fear, restraint, or obligation."

Simone seems to presume that determinant physical attraction is something we choose. Maybe her quote resounds better in an era where people thought homosexuals were simply being difficult, or whatever such nonsense.

Mashirafen:
I'd love to see a game that had a big, manly, space marine type character, where you killed lots of people and everything, and it's just mentioned nonchalantly like, halfway through that he's gay or whatever. It'd be interesting to see the reaction.

Or if their entire quest is to save "Ashley" and the first you see of Ashley is your manly guy kissing him at the very end of the game :3

Flynn DeMarco:
Guest Editor's Note: Queer Eye for the Gamer Guy

This week, The Escapist tackles the at times fraught relationship between videogames and the LGBT community.

Sorry, but Benimaru Nikaido is not gay.

http://kofaniv.snkplaymore.co.jp/english/character/index.php?num=benimaru

I like the idea of more representation in some games, though I'd be curious about the whole mute protagonist thing, as I'm not sure how that will play out. There wouldn't have to be a scene depicting anything more than subtle but obvious emotion (hand on the side of the face, those specific glances, maybe a kiss or so) with dialogue fit to match. It would be as meaningful as anything else in games (if not more so, really), with the added bonus of then going on with the story in the way desired. It really is time for gaming to grow up and develop more, maybe even go through that college experimental phase, following up with that perfect analogy.

bourgtai:

Mashirafen:
I'd love to see a game that had a big, manly, space marine type character, where you killed lots of people and everything, and it's just mentioned nonchalantly like, halfway through that he's gay or whatever. It'd be interesting to see the reaction.

Or if their entire quest is to save "Ashley" and the first you see of Ashley is your manly guy kissing him at the very end of the game :3

That is a phenomenal idea, but I think it would go over better if you used a more neutral name, something fairly ambiguous, with no cutscenes of the partner, and never let him use a clarifier like he, she, him, her, etc. I think it would be a big step forward to see such a step in gaming, though I'd suggest putting in a big final sequence where the two of you have to work together to complete the goal, ie kill the boss, making it something you couldn't do on your own, something that required your lover to be there with you to do.

bourgtai:

LiquidGrape:

Anywho, when push comes to shove, I think we could all take a leaf out of Simone de Beauvoir's book:

"In itself, homosexuality is as limiting as heterosexuality: the ideal should be to be capable of loving a woman or a man; either, a human being, without feeling fear, restraint, or obligation."

Simone seems to presume that determinant physical attraction is something we choose. Maybe her quote resounds better in an era where people thought homosexuals were simply being difficult, or whatever such nonsense.

Beauvoir merely expressed an ideal. And an ideal as such isn't exactly required to take all factual and logical factors into account. But wouldn't you agree with the sentiment? That it would be a wonderful world in which people were capable of loving one another regardless of gender?

SableSpectre:
If people only play who they want to be, why do so many straight guys I know play as females on EVERY MMO they come across?

I think that was already covered a while ago, if i'm not mistaken.

He has a point, it's alittle odd, i don't see men as attractive, i even kind of shudder at the thought of me being gay, but if it makes some one happy to be LGBT then so be it, we should mature ourselves before we get out of bed, no not event hat, because you can still be on a computer in bed and that means people can still hear you around the world, we need to mature ourselves all the time, no LGBT is stopping you from being straight, so don't stop them. I'm fine with two women together, like almost all men, two guys, hey their business i wouldn't like to see it and the thought of "that ain't right." might come across quickly, but fuck i'll get over it, just don't kiss me. and we are cool, I'd love to have a gay friend or two. sounds like they are more ,whats the word, tolerant than any other group. I feel like i'm rambling about this so I'll quit while im here.

The industry seems a bit stuck in its "horny teenage boy" phase, and until it gets out of this puberty I doubt we'll see a superstar game hero who just happens to be gay.

Enphasis on 'teenage' more than anything. The industry is too focused on living out adolescent fantasies, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. It's a phase, a phase I'm enjoying due to its shameless stream of unapologetic yet beautiful killfests, but I'll still be glad when keeping up with the latest gen's graphics won't be worth the effort and the manly space marine will wear itself out. Then we can have a few characters who are gay just because there are some people who are gay.

LiquidGrape:

Irridium:

From what I remeber, you could only have a lesbian relationship in Mass Effect if you played as a woman. No gay relationship.

And that never made any sense to me.
Let's face it, even a convinced heterosexual man playing a firmly heterosexual character ought to choose Kaidan over the unspeakable horror that is Ashley Williams.
Thank heavens they managed to salvage that mess with the help of interstellar lesbianism.

Ach. Kaidan is drabness given human form. Although I was very entertained by when he came on to my character, because he is so evasive and there's an option all along to have Shepard reply "erm... what?" up to the ending, which made that one of my favourite conversation. Slightly more in topic, I was also befuddled (befuddled, I say!) by how you can't have same sex relationships in ME unless one of you has blue skin.

LiquidGrape:

But wouldn't you agree with the sentiment? That it would be a wonderful world in which people were capable of loving one another regardless of gender?

It's a tough question--would it be a better world if we didn't have any sort of preferences? If it was all about personality, and not about anything else, not looks or gender? I don't know. Maybe it would be, but just because it would be a better world doesn't mean that our current world is flawed.

I mean, you find people who are bisexual in the sense of being pansexual, in that gender does not matter. And then you find people who are bisexual because they are attracted to men differently than the are attracted to women--gender matters twice as much! And then you find people who are attracted to transpeople, who in a perfect world might not exist (i.e. if we had the Harry Potter sorting hat for gender and the medical technology to make a sex reassignment surgery a simple pediatric procedure).

What about a world without gender in the first place? No more gender issues at all! Yet that seems sort of strange. I wonder if sexual orientation is the same way--if we were all just pansexual, while that would solve a lot of problems, would we lose something in the bargain? More or less than if we were all one gender? If we were all attracted to each other to an equal degree regardless of looks?

I find the assumption that protagonists are predominately heterosexual curious. Asexual main characters seem far more common to me.

It's sort of interesting to note how much of a hot-button issue this is. This is the first time I've seen an issue of the Escapist where every article had 40+ comments on the first day.

Eoin Livingston:
Zangief gay? nothing makes sense anymore

Monkeytacoz:
Zangief gay? WHAT?

Wikipedia used to have have a mention of this on Zangief's page. But, apparently it was removed, and is only mentioned on the discussion page because of the "agenda."
Basically, in a few Street Fighter games, there is a mention saying Zangief dislikes 'projectiles and pretty women.' Also, after being Ryu he would say "I don't like projectiles, but I like you.."
It's may or may not be canon, but even still, there is enough that one would think it deserves a marginal mention. But, instead, it was completely erased, frankly because someone is trying to push their own view on the article.
Despite what you think of that, what really sets Zangief apart is this; in Japan, people recognize a stock/cliche gay character differently. The typical image is of a large, muscular, hairy man in underwear/trunks/scant clothing. It's a cultural stereotype, much different from the skinny, feminine, flaming ones the west usually recognizes. Seeing any japanese comedic sitcoms, anime, or video games, you'll eventually see that stock character. Zangief perfectly fits into that.

Flynn DeMarco:
Guest Editor's Note: Queer Eye for the Gamer Guy

This week, The Escapist tackles the at times fraught relationship between videogames and the LGBT community.

I can't believe you didn't mention Final Fight in that. The game literally screams it's pink head off.

In fact, you did an article on it : http://gaygamer.net/2007/05/is_final_fight_the_gayest_game.html

This is the sort of content that makes me proud to be a (tiny) part of this outfit.

I think we're quite a'ways from seeing a positive gay character as the lead in a major-release game. I mean, look how long it took film to get to "Brokeback Mountain" - and even that A.) Wasn't really all that good of a movie and B.) Is still trading in the tired stereotype of the frustrated-misfit gay male.

While I do think gaming will get their "faster" than the movies did, it'll be in fits and starts. I think it's a safe bet that we'll see a major-release game with a gay lead within the next console generation or so... and I think it's an even SAFER bet that it will be a gay woman - either a "girl Mario rescuing her princess" or a semi-butch "psychologically male character who just happens to be a girl" Samus Aran type making eyes at the female NPCs - and that they'll both be grounded mostly in a fifteen year-old boy's concept of lesbianism than anything close to the experience or outlook of an actual gay woman.

Gay MALE heroes? Probably a much longer wait, and the first few will probably be played for "ironic" laffs; i.e. "HA HA! Isn't it CRAZY how that tough, strong, capable guy is actually GAY!!??"

SableSpectre:
If people only play who they want to be, why do so many straight guys I know play as females on EVERY MMO they come across?

Because they probably aren't playing "what they want to be", but rather opts for female characters because an MMO often entails having to spend several hours of looking at the backside of your character running around fighting. If you're straight then spending those hours looking at a digital female ass might be more interesting than having to look at a brawny man's ass.

Speaking as a heterosexual, I can certainly sympathize, even if I find that particular motivation to be a bit silly. But still, it is likely to be the most probable cause behind their choice of player characters. Suspecting that they are gay or transgender because of their choice in gaming characters would be a bit of a stretch...

The fact is, announced or just truth, LGBT characters are as real as thier real world counterparts. And I love a good SUPRISE!

Back in the day when Metroid was all SUPA SPACE MARINE TAKES ON UNIVERSE OF ALIEN SCUM! Samus at the end of its 20 MEGABITES of thrill seeking bug killing Mania, Politely removes HER helmet and the player discovers a whole new world of reality... GIRLS!

The same will suprise you when one day out of the blue all you Dom Curious folk out there will discover your battlehardened warrior is really just a Proud soft hearted Bear, lookin for love like the rest of us.

Cant wait! THANKS FRUIT BRUTE!

MovieBob:

Gay MALE heroes? Probably a much longer wait, and the first few will probably be played for "ironic" laffs; i.e. "HA HA! Isn't it CRAZY how that tough, strong, capable guy is actually GAY!!??"

The guy flying the ship? Camper than a field full of boyscouts, until it's time to kick asses.

At first, when I saw the subject matter the escapist has chosen for this week, I thought WTF. It's a strange idea to say the least.

However, seeing all these comments I realize that perhaps I have misjudged. It actually does make sense as a valid topic that can spark a discussion.

You guys never seem to stop from amazing us. Spot on, once again.

However, I still think it is a bit irrelevant. It's not like Birdo and Tinkle are the most iconic video game characters of all time. That said, it appears that gay is part of the industry, just like it is a part of society. I guess it's only natural.

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