222: Not That There's Anything Wrong With That

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Because gay people would rather be your friend than your enemy. (And don't worry, we won't try to seduce you. The sex would be awful.)

owch dude i'm not worried about homos if they asked it's a "no i'm not gay sorry"
But that burns you don't have to hurt me like that

The problem is not the audience. The problem is the old people who think that the audience are still THEIR 10 or 11 year old children. The problem is the parents of the now adult gaming groups, who ARE old enough to think for themselves, yet don't have the connections or ability to defend themselves when the shock and outrage bring hearings up to those in power.

The biggest problem we have right now is that our generations don't have enough voice to fight back against the types of people in power, the ones who are not the target audience for the game. This is the biggest problem we have right now. This is one of the reasons there's limitations on gays in gaming. All the eyes are on gaming, because music was the last generation's war.

I really do enjoy this article! The unfortunate thing is, some people still DO oppose gay people in games, regardless of whether or not they're fine with gay people. "I don't want to play as a gay guy!" seems to be common (despite the fact they don't always mind playing as a girl), stuff like that. But I really did like this articles.

The one thing I dislike, though, is the word "partner". I don't know why; it just sound really sterile to me.

pastels and quiche I'm cool with... berets? that scares me!

It's great to see any article that pans the incessant male bravado that dominates today's games - it really is time for a paradigm shift away from the teenage cynicism that seems to have pervaded gaming ever since the 128-bit transition. Hopefully we'll start to see a treatment of sexuality that isn't painfully stereotypical for a change, and I won't feel nearly as alienated by gaming as I do today.

By the way, I've been treated like that on the backward British island I live on when my (now ex-) boyfriend and I decided to hold hands in public - but I've never cared what other people think, because their small-minded prejudices will always exist and they are never going to make me feel guilty for how they feel about my sexuality. I'm heading to the "mainland" soon anyway, to more tolerant places - to read English literature, as it happens. Thank you so much for putting this article up. I'll stop gushing now, I promise.

RooftopAssassin:
It's not just gamers that have problems with homophobia, I think some of the people that make ratings for games are the same people who would put "Gay sexual content" on a game rather than "sexual content" and they'd probably make a whole other rating for it too.

I think you have nailed it on the head here. It's rather like hearing that the Avatar: The Last Airbender doing its casting call for "caucasian or any other ethnicity" instead of "open to all people". But it isn't whether or not someone is gay in a game, it is how it is handled. Gay people are JUST PEOPLE. Stereotypes aside, most of their day is filled with work, school, errands, deciding what to eat, etc.

I want to see gay people represented in games because they exist in reality. But I want them to be people not caricatures. I like how Jade Empire and Fable I and II handled the issue. The main character's sexuality wasn't pre-set. It was whatever you chose to pursue. Likewise, just like real life, some people would like you and some people wouldn't based on their OWN sexuality.

Something I haven't generally seen are children who are SMART in video games. (Okay, and not evil.) Children can be quite industrious and clever, yet games usually portray them as helpless lumps. I don't expect rocket scientists, but I DO expect them to be able to throw rocks and run from an enemy. Perhaps, just better writing and fewer stereotypes in general would be good in the gaming world. Reflections of reality allow us to slip into the state of disbelief easier. (As would more variety in voice actors on some of these games.) :)

k-ossuburb:
You say that games wouldn't sell if they had gay characters but what if they were lesbian?

I should've clarified - by "gay," I meant primarily gay men - the fetishization of lesbian women deserves its own article. (And typically, as in "LGBT," "L"esbians get their own letter instead of being included under "G"ay, I find)

Are there any games actually ABOUT the experience of being lesbian though - dealing with female body image, masculinity, and facing the simultaneous worship / disdain of straight people? (The stereotype of the strong-willed lesbian biker versus a metropolitan lipstick lesbian, for example.)

Dark Templar:
One thing though, why does being effeminate seem to be a gay stereotype? They are two different things.

I agree wholeheartedly - in fact, I'd even go as far as saying the trend in gay communities now is to be more masculine. As for myself: I enjoy MMA / hurting people, drinking cheap American beer, and dressing like a slob. (Plus, the rainbow flag is ugly and Will & Grace is the most formulaic sitcom ever.) ... I just happen to like dick too.

Oh, and I agree that the petty individual cases of homophobia aren't representative of society - and they're easily ignored. I'm more about the institutionalized cases: governments selectively not recognizing gay marriage, or the death-grip of only straight male preferences depicted in video games, etc.

I feel this guy's pain, I really do. He did a great job with this article, and particular parts of it nearly made me want to tear up and cry and little...

All in all, it was an excellent and enlightening read.

Hmmm I was about to say "where on Earth does the author live that he still gets treated like this?!" then I realised it could be where I live if you consider random scum bags on the street.

My work has four gay people that I know of out of about 40 people (no idea if this is a fair percentage of the population) and they're treated no different than anyone else. I'm sure they also are treated no different by their friends and family, apart from the initial, painful, coming out stages.

So yeah, random scumbags may insult/attack them on the street, but they'd do that to anyone. Have done to me, and I'm pretty certain I'm straight.

I think we're not dealing with homophobia and just shitty people.

Cool article btw, gets the brain juice flowing.

I played the Handle with Care mod after reading Anthony Burch's indie nation article on Destructoid.
http://www.destructoid.com/indie-nation-handle-with-care-140298.phtml

I understood that it was about a gay relationship, however that wasn't what stood out the most for me while playing it.
I felt that the box stacking which was how your character was dealing with an uncomfortable situation (the marriage counselor)
combined with the short video sequences (memories) to be much more compelling.

You can download Handle with Care on ModDb.
http://www.moddb.com/mods/radiator1/downloads/radiator-1-2-handle-with-care

As much as I agree with the ideas raised in an article, there is one thing that interested me. You said that if a game was made with a gay protagonist, nobody would buy it.

As far as I am aware, there haven't been any games with gay protagonists, so theorectically, it could be a smash hit. If the game interested me, then I wouldn't care whether or not the lead character was gay, transgender or whatever. If I was interested in the game, I'd buy it. The problem is that if a game was released with a gay character, it would be NEWS.

Game websites would report it as the main character being homosexual, because it hasn't really happened before, and of course, some idiots on the internet would respond with "OMG I AINT PLAYIN AS A FAG!", and the game would see some reduced sales (although hopefully some people would be able to get over their issues).

If a gay protagonist was featured in a game and it wasn't shouted about on the box or the trailers or the press releases, then it might work. Obviously, this can't be proven until it happens, but I believe that there is a place for a LGBT character in games.

I read some of the comments of his website and I am really amazed that people care about the players sexual orientation. You never see any naked men, gay sex or even hand-holding as far as I know. And yes, I am a straight guy who doesn't care what gender you like your partner to be. The author of the article makes a good final statement when he points out how most games already feature manly men shooting... firearms into each others faces :P

Wonderful article; it's so very relevant as I observe society loosening up in certain ways yet tightening up in other ways about homosexuality. You communicated an admirable combination of both seriousness and tongue-in-cheekness. I hope to see you write for the Escapist again.

Ryokugax:
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.

I have, before now, brought games to support the ideals that they espouse, whether it be ideological, stylistic, or just to support a developer that I like. If someone made a game that could do this, I would buy it. I wouldn't play it though, I fucking hate quiche.

OT - I've never understood homophobia. Of course, I've never understood the idea of hating someone for something they can't change. When I insult my gay mates, it's 'cos they're a bunch of wordy twats, not because they like sleeping with guys. Maybe one day, someone who is homophobic will be able to string together enough words without calling someone a cigarette (the word fag. It does not mean what you think it means to anyone outside of the US.) to let me know WHY they think like that in a manner that makes sense, but, just like around cigarettes, I won't be holding my breath...

I was half expecting the first comment to read "Re release the article without gay!"
Well put, man.

It's a shame about the unwanted focus on your mod. I'd try it, if I was a PC gamer (360 for me, seeing as how this computer would lag on Runescape). For me, gay people aren't discomforting so much as homophobia is. If someone tells me they're gay, or introduces me to their boyfriend, it's no big deal. Sure I acknowledge it and it's different, but Not That There's Anything Wrong With That (See what I did there?). It's like if someone tells me they're Jewish.
Whenever someone starts ranting about how they "Aint want no homos or queers comin' around on their watch" (I live in the South and have seen my share of Rebel Flags and white sheets) makes feel like I am gay, and suddenly have a dangerous secret. To put it in gaming terms, it's like when you think somebody's going to try to spycheck you. Just call me homophobephobic?

Sebenko:
Which, from my point of view, doesn't feel that gay. It's just love.

I'm surprised The Longest Journey hasn't come up. That game spends a good chunk of time developing characters at the beginning and your landlady is gay. I remember hearing the way she talks about Mickey, her girlfriend, in a way I could imagine of any adult in a loving long term relationship. I just thought they seemed really cute together. For me it was so well done that I didn't really consider them gay so much as in love. What you said really brought that feeling back up. Man I miss those games.

flatten_the_skyline:
It's sad that the only gay characters in games (and many, many movies) are just caricatures of gay stereotypes. Sure, many homosexual (mostly) men I met openly brag about their sexuality as a means to deal with all the bullshit they have to endure. But there are so many homosexuals who you'll rarely think of as such, until yo meet them with their partner.

I think that a homosexual character should be as subtle as described in the article, not as extreme as in most media. Remember, it'S just their sexual preferences, and as long as you are not attracted, they don't even matter to you, or do they?

Well, thats one thing is, alot of gays also ARE the stereotypes. I mean, there are some who you would never know, but there are those who are the stereotypes and why should we all ahev to be subdued to be ok? The character does not have to be extremely flamboyant, but many gays are more feminine than masculine without being too much.
Stereotypes exist for a reason, because they are true alot. Shouldnt run from them so much. If you fit them then fine, if you dont, then fine too. My friends would probably say Im very stereotypical, but my boyfriend you would never know. I didnt even know until we started a bit before we started dating.

I salute you for this article, fellow queer. I couldn't agree with it more. I love escapism and gaming, and yanno, sometimes I like my escapism to be easier to relate to like that. I go out of my way to play games with homosexual or bisexual subtext (or text, when I can get it). A good amount of my enjoyment of Saints Row 2 kicked in when I realized playing a woman in that game paints your character as pretty gay. Same with the Metal Gear Solid series and it's gay, lesbian, and bisexual relationships. Both are great games on their own, but that little extra made them purchases instead of rentals.

Kiutu:
Well, thats one thing is, alot of gays also ARE the stereotypes. I mean, there are some who you would never know, but there are those who are the stereotypes and why should we all ahev to be subdued to be ok? The character does not have to be extremely flamboyant, but many gays are more feminine than masculine without being too much.
Stereotypes exist for a reason, because they are true alot. Shouldnt run from them so much. If you fit them then fine, if you dont, then fine too. My friends would probably say Im very stereotypical, but my boyfriend you would never know. I didnt even know until we started a bit before we started dating.

Uh, speak for yourself there, please. I know.... seven gay people I'm close to. Only one is anywhere near a stereotype, and even then she's not enough that you'd be able to pick her out.

I played the mod and didn't care that he was gay also I love "vitamin gay"

Hi Robert,

I played the Radiator mods when they were first released and I found it's quirky gameplay quite interesting. It was far from perfect and definitely frustrating, but it was a deep breath of originality out of the masses of multiplayer mods of two teams fighting against each other in a post apocalyptic world.

And I'm pleasantly surprised it was done by the same man who wrote the Escapist article on the gaming course he taught at Cal. The mod's minimalist look was a fine example of what you were trying to teach your students who were crashing their game just by having a player look at part of the level.

Much like James unpacking and storing away his memories that he was trying to repress to escape the pain and boredom of the marriage counseling, I just had a random memory break free. A few months ago, I was playing Insurgency, the popular Half-Life 2 mod. On a well liked and respectable server, we were playing an intense game with a bunch of very competitive and angry gamers. Suddenly one player sprays a tag on the wall of two men kissing.

It wasn't extremely explicit. Both men were fully clothed, the kiss was chaste but passionate. There was no tongue involved, no pulling the other's head in for a strong embrace.

Still the chatlog and voice channel exploded.

"WHO THE FUCK SPRAYED THE GAY TAG?"

"Uggh...that shit is nasty!"

"Who's the homo who sprayed that!"

"Those fucking faggots make me sick!"

"Yo, that's wrong!"

Since, I was in a maelstrom of hate I didn't want to do anything that would too outwardly show my true orientation. I just chimed in reasonably and half jokingly:

"Dude! They're just two guys kissing. Big fucking deal, get over it!"

"What they're doing is hardly explicit, and even if so, there's nothin' wrong with a little buttsex!"

Of course, for advocating for the spray, the hate turned towards me.

"Yo Juba! You a faggot?"

Shortly after someone censored the tag with their own, the admin tracked down the originator of the spray and promptly kicked him. Right next to the kissing tag, and pasted over it were a bunch of images of explicit hardcore sex. The one pasted right over was of a young woman being penetrated from both ends. A few feet away was a picture of two barely legal girls engaging in cunnilingus. How were those images okay? How is hardcore sex and imagery of lesbian activity deemed inappropriate but an innocent kiss between two men offensive? I checked the rules.

The only things forbidden were spamming the voice channel and decoy tags. So I brought up the hypocrisy in this.

"I don't care," said the admin, "I just don't want to see that."

What about what others want to see and not see?

Homophobia = FEAR of gay people.

I hate the people who use 'homophobia' excessively like they just learned it almost as much as the people who say gay like its the 'F' word. I'm not supporting anti-gay behavior I just want you to know there's a difference between being afraid of something and staying away, and hating it enough to abuse it.

Some kid called me gay on Xbox live, I asked him how he knew (I'm not really gay), he said because he fucked my mom. This lead me to the conclusion that he is my father who left when I was a kid. Man he sounds young, but I was so glad to see him I sent him tons of messages asking him to come back home and he never replies ;_;

Damn good article. This is the reason I love the escapist. Real problems discussed frankly using video games as common ground.
I regret getting the orange box for my PS3 as I can not play any of the mods. In my defense it was on sale for half the price of the PC version.

Angerwing:
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.

Yea i agree with that.

If you have to be a jerk to play a simple online game then your not very good. That's what I always thought. Too bad gay is an insult now

Great article, couldn't agree more. Very heartening to read this comment thread and see lots of other people taking a more mature attitude to games and sexuality than we commonly see.
Just for the record, I'd buy a game with a gay protagonist, if it was good. Does anyone really use that as a criteria for choosing their entertainment?

Douk:
Homophobia = FEAR of gay people.

Fear = disdain, distrust, nervousness, anxiety, irritation, intolerance.

... or, perhaps you have a better word to describe it when a homophobic person says "I don't hate gays; I just don't want to talk to them or associate with them or do business with them or befriend them."

It's not exactly a KKK member setting my roof on fire, but it's still discrimination that I otherwise wouldn't have had to face.

I'll be perfectly honest, gay men make me uncomfortable. I don't know why and don't really care but they do. So what do I do? I don't bring up sex when I'm talking to a gay guy. if relationships come up by happenstance I won't steer the topic away however. I guess you can say I am homophobic because I am irrationally bothered by gay men. I am however working on that and I still support full rights for gays, but I feel that it's still important to know that some people aren't homophobic because they're ignorant fucks, they just are. anyway nice article and good luck with the whole gay rights thing :P.

I think the main reason we dont have more gay chars in games is that games are bairly mature enough to have straight chars in them, I mean here in the states we are perfectly fine with violence but really any sexuality is seen as something to shy away from. I mean if your looking for a war game we will tend to do it better then a japanese dev but if you want to have chars that are more then cardboard cutouts you really need to look to japan or one of very few western devs such as bioware. (I mean they are trying)

But Ive always been suspect of the numbers of gay and straight people, I mean Ill bet the number of gay people are under represented by the fact that since its taboo a good number who are gay are hiding it and a good number who say they are straight are really bi. I would love some hard numbers on this but its one of thoes things that till sociaty isnt afraid of it, you will never get honesty with it.

Angerwing:
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.

I'd like to make an ammendment to that: I have slight homophobia as a direct result of other guys approaching me in ways that made me feel uncomfortable. Ranging from 'getting a little too close' to 'offering credit card numbers'. I'm not exaggerating either.

I am amongst the group that "doesn't really care". As long as they're not specifically trying to come onto me in Florence during what I'm treating as my graduation trip with people my little brother's age and the last days where (to my knowledge) my whole family is still technically together and I'm looking sharp in my lambskin jacket and genuine Roman-bought and over-priced 20 euro Fedora (though I'd give my life for one of those hats), I can deal with it. No judging of the person as a whole, either; I'm fully capable of dealing with someone I'm afraid tried to violate me in the past in a friendly manner.

Keeping in mind that I'm paranoid, have difficulty with social situations, and have raised the question of my own sexuality in the past (answer = straight), I may have blown each situation out of proportion.

TL;DR: I blather on about things I don't care about to make points I don't have.

Sorry, but I don't really have 2 cents to contribute to the conversation, but I wanted to thank you for writing this article all the same.

I'm not a fan of tags like "gay" or "straight". They say love is unconditional, but then people add "as long as your not gay", which makes no sense to me. If love is real, then who am I to question where you find it?

I admit that I have never played your mods, but I shall definitely put it on my "To Do" list for when school exams finish. But it's a nice article all the same, so thankyou for taking the time to write it.

occamsnailfile:

Marcus Fenix could easily be gay and have a picture of his partner in his wallet that he shows to someone just to dare the plot gods to try and kill his invincible badass self.

*That* would make me play Gears.

I can only imagine the shock to the average tough guy when he finds that out. Would he, in fact, cease playing immediately?

Happily, it seems that "Noob" is far more pervasive that "Gay" or "Faggot" in all the online shooters I play now. I suspect it's because, for the most part, teens could really care less about someone's sexuality. Judging by the people my daughter knows, somewhere around 70% of high school kids identify as gay or bi. But then again, they still have pride rallies and put up posters, so mebbe it's just who she hangs with.

I've found saying things like "No, I'm straight, but thanks for asking!" confuses the hell out of the people that throw out gay as a random word.

I have a confession to make.
One of my friends (who apparently had forgotten that I came out to him a week ago) was complaining that there was no 'straight' option in your (fantastic) game.
Without knowing anything else about it, I instantly downloaded it.
Sorry for being such a philistine

I must say i loved the article... while i differ on a few small points none of it is big or important enough to warrant a rant. I am part of the 18-35 heterosexual white male gamer demographic but even i have wondered about when games will add homosexuality into a game, not as a mechanic or plot point, but rather as a part of everyday "life" inside the game. While i have not played "Handle with Care" the way it is done is perfect in my opinion.

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