222: Too Gay for the U.S.A.

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Too Gay for the U.S.A.

Traditionally, Japanese developers haven't shied away from depicting gay and transgender characters in their games. But when these titles make their way overseas, it's a different story. Andrew Webster looks at how publishers have censored gay characters for North American audiences.

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Does anyone remember how Fallout 3 was commended for its inclusion of homosexual NPCs in the wasteland, yet of the three gay men, one was a prissy fashion-queen & the other a moustached, hard-voiced rough character with a weaker, dominated lover, & that the two lesbians had hideous rotting skin?

Nearly all characters in a JRPG are gay. Look at Brother in FFX/x2. He is screaming camp whenever he is on screen!

BIRDO!!!! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

OT: They changed his entire character to fit their homophobia?

This was quite an enlightening article, and really helped shed some light on the issue of sexuality in games.

I'm surprised that you didn't mention Trevor from Phantasmagoria 2 though. The game itself was undeniable crap, but Trevor was a quite likable character and just happened to be gay.

...he's forced at one point in the game to dress in drag in order to infiltrate a brothel, seduce a pimp and rescue his friend.

Did anyone get a flashback to Fable while reading that? :P

SpiritMacardi:
This was quite an enlightening article, and really helped shed some light on the issue of sexuality in games.

I'm surprised that you didn't mention Trevor from Phantasmagoria 2 though. The game itself was undeniable crap, but Trevor was a quite likable character and just happened to be gay.

The main character was bisexual.

Valkyria Chronicles has characters that gain boosts in the field when they are near a gender they fancy. About half are straight and the other half are gay or bi-sexual.

My copy in the UK has this feature but did America sensor this aspect of the game?

This is why I hate androgyenous characters: I want to know are they men, women or gay men/women. Just own up and say "this character is gay," I won't judge for it.

Yeah it was a pretty interesting article. I mean it's not like it was a huge expose ... wow ... lack of homosexual/transgendered characters in video games ... I never noticed :P

But that being said I think it would be a somewhat silly, and/or detract from the atmosphere, in many games to have ANY sort of open advertisement of sexual orientation in them ... that being said ... the weird and wonderful environment of Super Smash Bros. ... I found it strange they actually edited Birdo.

Any Call of Duty game for instance.

I mean ... most games are about trial and tribulations ... something bad happens ... player fixes said problem. So is it really appropriate to have sexual orientation to be thrust on the monitor just simply for the game developer to go "look, we're gay friendly!"?

Fable did it well though ... your sexual orientation took a back seat to the story.

Pararaptor:
Does anyone remember how Fallout 3 was commended for its inclusion of homosexual NPCs in the wasteland, yet of the three gay men, one was a prissy fashion-queen & the other a moustached, hard-voiced rough character with a weaker, dominated lover, & that the two lesbians had hideous rotting skin?

There were openly gay chracters in Fallout 3? I struggled to notice the openly straight ones! *laughs*

I find it rather delightful that people apparently find depictions of dismemberment less repugnant than homosexuality. Because guys kissing is so much more disgusting and harmful than the brutal murder and mutilation of a fellow human being, right? *facepalm*

In a world where characters can pretty much do anything like eat mushrooms to grow larger, get multiple lives and use revival spells you would think there would be spells to fix gender orientation issues. But since The States are mostly made up of more people leaning toward the conservative and do not care to understand why gay people exist. I don't either and I'm quite liberal.

Do you want to know why homosexuals aren't in many games in the United States? It's because most kids in the US still use "gay" as an insult. We live in a homophobic community. I really don't care one way or another if the character is gay, what bothers me is the fact that it's being censored in America because some people just can't grow up. This was a great article. I had no idea about all these games being censored.

Why not just have a developer throw down the gauntlet? Have an openly LGBT hero for the next final fantasy rather than snidely laugh that "lightening" looks like cloud in a wig. Stick one of them in the next Call of Duty game and have him save your life.

We can't just wait around for society to evolve...a push was made for women to get the vote, for schools to be desegregated...why not just make the push for games to be more accepting of different characters?

A loss of revenue is one thing, but with all the indie titles coming out, I find it hard to believe one developer wouldn't be willing to get creative.

~~~
Also...

Andrew Webster:
A poll conducted by family gaming site What They Play in April 2008 offers further evidence of this aversion to homosexuality in media: When shown a series of provocative pictures, respondents were more offended by the image of two men kissing then that of a severed head.

Wouldn't a poll on gamers rather then their parents be more useful?

I mean...how many parents actually go through the process of screening the games their children are interested in before buying them?

I recall hearing about Birdo being a guy. Yeah, being homophobic seems to be a popular fad that just won't die in the USA... I wonder why?

I was a bit younger and naive when I played through that section of Final Fantasy 7 with the cross dressing so I completely missed the gay undertones. Probably didn't help that I'm British and had been enjoyed the long comic tradition of men dressing as really unconvincing women. I read the scene as one long Monty Python style sketch about the ridiculousness of the Mob boss not noticing the obvious man in a bad wig.

I thought the Tingle game was coming out in the United States? It just got a new, nicely localized name and everything.

Anyway, that was an interesting look at the nature of sexuality (or, rather, homosexuality) in gaming.

I would also like to state that, I think it was the Gamecube Mario Tennis, that Birdo was officially once again recognized as a boy who wants to be a girl by all people.

Actually, an interesting bit of info is that Vivian, the ghost ally from "Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door" is actually male in the japanese version, just ultra effeminate (I'm pretty sure, at least), while in every other version, Vivian is a girl.

A pretty good article but you do sort of miss the point - a lot of people think that Transgendered people are gay, they confuse sexuality with gender when this is simply not the case. I don't have a problem with seeing gay or transgendered characters in games and American homophobia comes as no surprise to this Brit, please though do not compound the errors of the unenlightened by confusing Gender Identity Dysphoria with one's sexuality.

For someone who has no insight in how the US legislate on game content and such, this a great article. Well, it's also a great article for many other reasons. Being Danish, I am of course flabbergasted that this censorship is even takes place. Flabbergasted and disappointed. I know for a fact that the States produce some very competent media scientists, as lastly seen in the Thomson-trial-thing, witnessing against him. But why aren't the government listening to the experts? Do the people responsible find themselves more competent in all maters moral and obscure than those who have studied the subject matter?

Technically Kanji isn't Gay. He's more Pansexual than anything since he seems to latch onto anything that can comfort him (after all he wanted just as much as eveyrone else to see Naoko in a swim suit)

I actually think YOU missed the point of Kanji, that what you DO does not define who you are, the police and students all thought he was a violent thug an he hung around with guys easier than girls so he thought he was gay, and he got his phobia when girls laughed at him for knitting.

The end of his Social Link is pretty much "Yeah I knit, got a problem with it? I'm GOOD at it!"

He's nose bled at girls and boys so... yeah.

I mesan the article is good, just that stood out as 'Missed the point'

So if Japanese game characters are to hide all traces of not "correct" behavior here in the states, then I think that proves that all the characters in the recent Final Fantasy games are cross dressers.

drakengard was incredibly censored compared to the japanese one
there were peadophiles (althought he was controlling it), child killing, and incest
loads of incest
it even went into the european one, they couldnt keep it ll out

Oh god, why did you bring up yaoi. That is a Pandoras box that needs to be left unopened. And is essentially the female watcher equivalent to Lesbian porn that's marketed twords men. Not exactly pro-gay material if you ask me.

And really, looking at the examples you've chosen only the Persona 4 one is really of a good thing. That Cho Aniki game you were talking about seems like gay fan service to me. And I'm against games based around fan service no matter who they target.

EquinoxETO:
drakengard was incredibly censored compared to the japanese one
there were peadophiles (althought he was controlling it), child killing, and incest
loads of incest
it even went into the european one, they couldnt keep it ll out

Yeah, I remember reading the wiki about this game a while ago. The American and Japanese versions were so different that they might as well have been two completely different games.

OT: Great article by the way.

Homophobia is more apparent in Japan than the US, and being gay is much less acceptable, but when it comes to entertainment, anything goes.

Japan has a long tradition of `cross dressing` for entertainment purposes, gay characters are created for comedy value, not acceptance. `pretty guys` are also admired by quite a few girls.

I do not think that games create prejudice nor stop it. They reflect a society`s values, not influence it.

Even though Japan presents a seemingly open front on cross dressing and homosexuality in the entertainment industry, the reality of being gay in Japan is a far far different story.

Still, I do not know why they edit these things out in games, games cannot `make you gay`.

I really enjoyed the article. Never new about birdo so that was a bit enlightening. To be honest I never knew that the Japanese market was so open to homosexuality thanks to my ignorance of thinking that everyone is as bad as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

PaulH:
Yeah it was a pretty interesting article. I mean it's not like it was a huge expose ... wow ... lack of homosexual/transgendered characters in video games ... I never noticed :P

But that being said I think it would be a somewhat silly, and/or detract from the atmosphere, in many games to have ANY sort of open advertisement of sexual orientation in them ... that being said ... the weird and wonderful environment of Super Smash Bros. ... I found it strange they actually edited Birdo.

Any Call of Duty game for instance.

I mean ... most games are about trial and tribulations ... something bad happens ... player fixes said problem. So is it really appropriate to have sexual orientation to be thrust on the monitor just simply for the game developer to go "look, we're gay friendly!"?

Fable did it well though ... your sexual orientation took a back seat to the story.

That's what I was thinking. Most games don't have any hint of sexuality at all. I really don't see how having gay characters is an issue. I can't believe any form of discrimination still exists in this day and age. It seems to be just the United States that's holding us back, seeing as games go completely uncensored in Europe and Japan. Not that I'm blaming EVERY American, of course. It's just the idiots who are ruining it for the rest of the world.

Guilty Gear's Bridget was the best character in that game........yhea I said it.

There is nothing wrong with homosexuality/bisexuality at all. Unless you are attracted to them, their sexual preference should not matter. Transgender people are people too you know. Why can't we all get along?

Just um........ one thing......... effeminate boys aren't all gay, bad stereotype. Pretty guys get girls too.

I'll just stick to the severed heads thank you very much.

Onmi:
Technically Kanji isn't Gay. He's more Pansexual than anything since he seems to latch onto anything that can comfort him (after all he wanted just as much as eveyrone else to see Naoko in a swim suit)

I actually think YOU missed the point of Kanji, that what you DO does not define who you are, the police and students all thought he was a violent thug an he hung around with guys easier than girls so he thought he was gay, and he got his phobia when girls laughed at him for knitting.

The end of his Social Link is pretty much "Yeah I knit, got a problem with it? I'm GOOD at it!"

He's nose bled at girls and boys so... yeah.

I mesan the article is good, just that stood out as 'Missed the point'

Yeah, that bugged me too. I think the official word was that Kanji wasn't necessarily homosexual, but might have been (and wasn't sure.) The steamy bathhouse dungeon is meant to represent inner fears, not truth if you recall.
And I agree that it was the best video-game depiction of the confusion of teenagers questioning their homosexuality in today's society (even though it's located in Japan, no U.S.A. games do better.)

Fable's depiction struck more as leaving out sexual discrimination code than anything else. It's not Harvest Moon or Mass Effect or Baldur's Gate 2, where romancing is actually affected by the other person's personality. The Sims 2 support is a bit more significant (though not by much) but it still doesn't go to depths that more dialog-focused games do with heterosexual romance.

A dialog-heavy homosexual male-on-male relationship depicted ingame will come with time. The fear of homosexuality is hardly restricted to games; we'll see more and more pushing the envelope with time and it'll become more accepted. That's pretty much the way of any social change in society relating to a minority or feminism.

ugh why is america so anti homosexual? because of it all of north america can't get certain games... accept someones sexuality and get on with it there will always be homosexual people you cant stop that.

Korth13:
Valkyria Chronicles has characters that gain boosts in the field when they are near a gender they fancy. About half are straight and the other half are gay or bi-sexual.

My copy in the UK has this feature but did America sensor this aspect of the game?

I don't think it was. Quite a few of the characters were openly gay, with a few of them getting bonuses from being around both genders... and one of the Lancers (your bazooka-guys) got a bonus from specifically being around Largo, who was your quintessential veteran soldier and did not share the affection at all. Or maybe that's just the character design from the anime spilling over--my memory isn't 100% here.

I'm similarly pleased that you decided to mention Kanji, though I see that character as more of a condemnation of traditional gender archetypes. My impression is that he isn't truly gay, but definitely confused in his sexuality. The fact that he's had so many problems in dealing with girls doesn't help. But while he appears to be a biker-type tough guy on the outside, thanks to his leather jacket and extreme aggression, his parents operate an old-fashioned textile shop, and he is definitely into the family business (as well as interior design).

But one thing that I can't help but appreciate is the difficulty of Kanji's boss, which is best described as "holy ****". I don't want to go into details for fear of accidentally providing spoilers, but I think that the fact that his boss is so damned tough reflects how hard it is for society to wrap its collective head around the issue of gender identity and sexuality. I love the symbolism in the designs of the bosses in that game.

never knew birdo was male

Nice to know

Then they call Europe the Old World...

I don't give a damn what my character likes so long as they get to kick ass.

bushwhacker2k:
I recall hearing about Birdo being a guy. Yeah, being homophobic seems to be a popular fad that just won't die in the USA... I wonder why?

cos they don't get out enough...

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