222: Not That There's Anything Wrong With That

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Not terribly long ago (in a cosmic sense) I wrote a post about an issue somewhat similar to this, where a talented Modder was being harassed for posting nude male models and clothing that displays male genitalia for the games Morrowind and Oblivion (for which there are literally tens of thousands of different nude female models and clothing showing off breasts and vaginas). The kicker in my tale, though, was that the Modder is female herself and yet was derided for creating "gay" Mods, as though only those works which cater to heterosexual males should be allowed.

As others have said both here and in my thread, as well as in my own experience, those who complain the loudest about this sort of thing are usually the most insecure about their own sexuality or place in society, and therefore feel the need to object the loudest when anything that might force them to react comes along. "Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much" really comes into play here.

However, another aspect that seriously bothers me is those responses from otherwise well-meaning heterosexuals that basically equate to "Well, I'm okay with how this is set up, so why does it bother you so much?". It's a distinct and disturbing lack of empathy for others who are already struggling to gain acceptance for a way of life that, in its basest aspects, HARMS NO ONE. Seriously, fellow straight guys, let's "man up" and put out a hand to give our gay friends and neighbors some help. If you're as secure in your sexuality as you should be, then Chet in Accounting being gay shouldn't matter any more than him being a Red Sox fan or a collector of prog rock albums. Real men don't let some idiot's biases keep them from doing what they know is right. Right?

On a side note- some in this thread should ask "why should the protagonist be gay?" To that, I respond "why should the protagonist be straight?" If it's some minor blurb in a character bio, then why should it matter? And if it comes up on a more visible level in the game itself... well, come on, Lara Croft flirted at one of the male characters back in the original Tomb Raider, did that bother anyone? Don't be afraid to challenge your head as much as your thumbs.

Good article. Good read. Good grief!

I suppose If I were to make a game, the love interest of the main character would be of same sex origins. I would want them to be a gay couple only due to the fact that I understand it.

That would be why the article was written as a way of saying (to me), just going on this topic seems silly inside, because in another aire this article should have been about the success or details of the game.

cheers to the audiences cheer

I remember playing doom. A sexless beast of a man.
Now we get games where the sexuality of a character is considered the first and foremost important aspect of the characters. Just look at how some of these characters are dressed. If I'm going into a gun fight, I'm wearing more than shirt that barely covers my chest.

I'm waiting for the day when games will get past this and just use a character's sex or orientation as part of the character history.

I.E. You play the entire game trying to get home to your wife Jackie and when you do finally reach the final cutscene, He is as big as a tub of lard and he's eating donuts while crying over your rumored death. Prior to the ending scene, all you knew is that the character loved his wife and was willing to beat the snot out of everyone just so he go home.

Susan Arendt:

shMerker:
I'm a little confused as to why you post these news items about your articles. If people aren't reading them maybe it's because they don't realize that they're there.

You just answered your own question. :)

Yeah, it just seems like just making the articles more prominent to begin with would solve the same problem more elegantly.

I think we need more gay in gaming, I'm totally straight, but come on, gay people are always under fire, for unfair reasons. Most games are about fighting back, put me inside a gay character (no pun intended), and then hand me a shotgun, let me put down some discriminating pricks. At least it will be original.

Douk:
Homophobia = FEAR of gay people.
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 ;_;

Kudos to you, sir.

Drakey:
I suppose If I were to make a game, the love interest of the main character would be of same sex origins. I would want them to be a gay couple only due to the fact that I understand it.

that's why it would be great if games were designed by a more diverse group of people.

I enjoyed Yang's mod, and I definitely agree with him that there need to be more gay protagonists in video games, but I still don't think that making the player character in Handle With Care gay was a good idea. I realize that part of what Yang is trying to do here is show how little that detail matters, and how it should be a "non issue" when we encounter a gay character in video games. Unfortunately though, the very nature of Yang's medium (small scale first person mod) coupled with his chosen setting (couple's therapy) MAKES it a big deal. Players inevitably want to know as much as possible about the character they are playing, and since the mod gives us very little information about James' background aside from his homosexuality it's only natural for players to assume that that is what the game is going to be "about". If Yang really wanted to play down the importance of his protagonist's sexuality he really shouldn't have included it in one of the first lines of dialogue.

I'm not sure you're asking for too much. With the majority of hetero interaction in games seemingly locked at the level of sniggering, horny 13 year old boys, getting things right with homosexual relationships seems a little advanced.
Here's hoping for more maturity in the future in all aspects of gaming. Fun and smart go together every time, maturity should make gaming better yet.

boholikeu:
If Yang really wanted to play down the importance of his protagonist's sexuality he really shouldn't have included it in one of the first lines of dialogue.

Well, one of the weird paradoxes I talk about in the article is about how "playing down" the importance was my way of "playing it up." It was an important detail to me, obviously, but still just a detail.

Which is why it disturbed me when people critique the "gayness" as the main "flaw," when (a) my mod is riddled with much more substantial flaws, and (b) there isn't even much of this stereotypical "gayness" to speak of, and (c) it's almost like saying casting Lara Croft as a white woman is a design flaw.

PS: what happens when I "play it down" completely, as in Polaris, is that I get accused of tricking people, so I guess I just can't win with some people (though I think of the narrator in Polaris as more of an ambiguous gendered character rather than a man)

I always wanted to make a game about two men falling in love (oh wait, I didnt mention the word gay in the sentence), and then go on a crowbar-swinging monster-killing ride to brokeba... city 17 where Jimmy T. saves his ex-boyfriend Gordon F. from Alyx V. I obviously never made it.
Now Rockstar Games does it and they don't fuck around: WARNING, this game contains at least one GAY character! GAY TONY! Discuss it in the forums you stupid nerds and do like it cause we define what's cool, got it? (What was I talking about? Oh yes!) Of course this is the real topic as even The Escapist did not only accept but even asked for THE GAY. Yay, thank you so much for a chance to speak out. If you don't mind I'll be going somewhere else now.

{

cobra_ky:
that's why it would be great if games were designed by a more diverse group of people.

It would help tremendously if they chose to design games FOR a more diverse group of people.
}

DayDark:
I think we need more gay in gaming, I'm totally straight, but come on, gay people are always under fire, for unfair reasons. Most games are about fighting back, put me inside a gay character (no pun intended), and then hand me a shotgun, let me put down some discriminating pricks. At least it will be original.

I'd play that.

Really well written article. It sucks how the editor actually made the author edit out his sexual orientation in an earlier issue. Even worse, is that it would have largely gone unnoticed anyway. This is just a great issue for breaking down some barriers, because I know that some of those ignorant, loudmouthed pricks are on this site.

I just find it horrible that it was a big deal.

Robert Yang:

Well, one of the weird paradoxes I talk about in the article is about how "playing down" the importance was my way of "playing it up." It was an important detail to me, obviously, but still just a detail.

Which is why it disturbed me when people critique the "gayness" as the main "flaw," when (a) my mod is riddled with much more substantial flaws, and (b) there isn't even much of this stereotypical "gayness" to speak of, and (c) it's almost like saying casting Lara Croft as a white woman is a design flaw.

PS: what happens when I "play it down" completely, as in Polaris, is that I get accused of tricking people, so I guess I just can't win with some people (though I think of the narrator in Polaris as more of an ambiguous gendered character rather than a man)

Thanks for the reply.

Actually, thematically speaking I do think the "gayness" is the game's main flaw, but only because it acts as a sort of red herring for what the focus of the game is going to be. Due to the political nature of the whole issue, making your main character gay isn't so much like making Lara Croft a woman as it is like making your protagonist a Tibetan monk and setting the game in China. James' homosexuality is going to stand out even to people that aren't necessarily homophobic, and when the story of Handle With Care doesn't "follow through" with that detail it can all seem a little distracting.

Anyway, that's just my ivory tower critique of it. I realize that the complaints on your forums (especially the one quoted in your article) are based on discrimination, which is why people complained about Polaris too. Thanks for writing such a great article about this on the Escapist, and I can't wait for your next mod!

Thank you for this view point. I honestly have been trying to use gay phrases less when I play video games because I know that there are people out there that dislike it,mabey even loath it, when people like me do such things. So in short I want to say that your thoughts words and actions, I believe, are a step in the right direction.

As a white male bisexual from Canada, who has spent alot of time at 4chan(where every insult is appended with -fag, and gay people have to be insulted as gayfags) I really cannot understand why this is something that matters so much to gay people, but the author of the article definately has the right idea: if you really think there should be more games with gay protagonists, go out and write some. Break the ice so the big companies can do it after all the stigmatism is gone, because if that sort of hatemail he's getting for his mod is what to expect, they're right for sticking to straight protags and not losing the sales.

As a sidenote, why is it that everyone's okay with being hateful to ignorant people? They can't help it, it's just how they are.

Man I feel bad know. I use the "f" word all the time, and I'm bisexual. Actually, I've been using it less since it lost it's originality. I suppose I should move to somewhere more tolerant too though. Not that Iowa is bad.

because we need to evolve past the same male power fantasies, those same damn games with big-muscled, half-naked men shooting their big thick ... railguns ... all over each other's faces.

I understand the correct response in this situation would be BOOM! HEADSHOT!

An interesting article - hopefully the situation will change over time (not that I'm thinking GTgAy: The Adventures of Gay Tony, Who Is Totally Gay is going to improve gamer perceptions in the US about gay characters).

Off the top of my head I can only think of one lesbian character - from the Fear Effect games on the Playstation. That's a while back too.

Has anyone else noticed this is NOT a counter strike mod?

It REQUIRES HL2:E2.

The magazine on the table in the little room you start in is very phallic. (Not that there's anything wrong with that)

As I was playing I noticed my characters name was James and that the person I was in therapy with was a male, But I didn't really care, I was busy being inside a mind trying to store memory's and learning that I get paid shit wages as a worker in James' brain.

The Therapist gives negative responses to the events that end the game with James and Their partner remaining married
and Positive responses when you destroy a memory create and you end up getting divorced

Yes I thought he was gay, no I'm not gay, but I enjoyed this game Regardless, What are the real messages anyway?
The ones we decide we've received

The sex would be awful.

why on earth?? seems unfair to assume I couldn't get any better through practice... :)

great article, and a good issue of the newsletter altogether

Lorechaser:

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.

Same way people responded when they found out that Samus Aran was *gasp* a GIRL!

....huh. There's some interesting allegories to females in gaming and gays in gaming to be made there (hurrah, people think they're still minorities!) but I'm not talented or sleep....filled enough to do it.

Fantastic read. Really enjoyed reading it, and I always love a bit of self-deprecation!

The argument about the lack of gay guys in videogames comes with the implication that there are an overwhelming amount of straight guys in videogames. I disagree with this. For example, at no point (that I can recall!) in Gears of War was it ever established or made a point that Marcus Fenix is straight. Or gay. Or anything. It's irrelevant to the storyline. It's a game about cutting people up with chainsaws, so it doesn't really matter. But of course it's assumed he's straight, which I suppose is fair enough.

And of course, more relevantly, Gordon Freeman. Freeman's never shown as gay or straight and like James, he doesn't talk. So what's the real difference?

I suppose my point is that there isn't a majority of straight characters in videogames, just an implied majority. The only games I can think of that go out of their way to establish the sexuality of the characters involved is GTA (Notably GTAIV, The Ballad of Gay Tony) which helps flesh out the characters and give them a more convincing aura.

By including a LGBT character, you are making a point about that character and your videogame. But by including a straight character, surely you are making the same point?

(On a side note, I find it interesting that in GoW, Marcus Fenix's sexuality is never defined but Dom's is. And while Dom isn't the main playable character, of course if you're playing co-op, he becomes that main playable character for one of you.)

'When a gay person hears "faggot," they hear it as a question'

E-fucking-xactly. I've recently been trying to describe the source of that burning sensation I feel when it's said, and this the perfect phrasing. Great article.

Bizarrely enough I think Star Trek summarised the problem of homoesexuality in any media a while ago. They were criticised for not including any homosexual characters in ST: TNG, and their response was 'the only characters we showed in relationships just happened to be straight, and what do want the background gay characters to do? Should we have them prance around the ship?'

Maybe the first bit is a bit of a copout, but seriously, if a character's sexuality isn't either being overblown (Will and Grace) largely ignored (Dumbledore) or being used as the central point of a developing relationship in which the homosexuality is the entire point of the story (can't think of a well known example), then what exactly is a gay character supposed to do to make the audience very aware that 'THIS ONE RIGHT HERE IS GAY!'

People don't go around loudly announcing that they're heterosexual or homosexual in real life (except for a few examples, but there's nutjobs everywhere in life so...) but for some reason we expect for homosexual characters to be very clearly identified, and if not then a whole host of moral conservatives crawl from the woodwork declaring they were tricked into watching/reading/playing a gay character.

If only we could treat homosexuality in media the way it is in real life, some people live utterly normal lives and go home to a partner of the opposite gender, some people live utterly normal lives and go home to a partner of the same gender, and it's no one's business or concern which group you fall into.

it is interesting how some people can be so senselessly hateful in this world, of course where I live, I've never seen such hatred for the most part against homosexual people outside highschool, and about a year after I left that god forsaken hellhole, they started expelling people for hatespeech and all sorts of stuff... it's actually harder to go through school here as an average heterosexual white male than it is anyone else... but hey, I'm a heterosexual white male, but I also have friends from all walks of life, from all sorts of cultural backgrounds all different colours, all sorts of sexual alignments, I'm not one to judge, of course I also react the same way to ALL forms of unwanted advances, be it from a guy or a girl who I ain't into, I've been called everything from gay to homophobic in so many situations I must be the gayest homophobe in existence! :P but seriously, intolerant people will be intolerant, haters gonna hate if you will... I was picked on bullied and treated like shit by everyone around me including my family until I nearly killed myself to escape it, and was medicated to hell and back then story of my life blah blah blah... you get the picture.

AND I'M THE AVERAGE one, I'm white, I'm average height, lil hefty but almost average weight, I'm smart and stuff, but I don't think much of it, and I get shit on by people for it, and they're white and hetero too, so if yer gay, join the club friend, people would hate on you either way, you don't even gotta give em a reason.

I wish people would stop talking about homosexuality in games like it's a big deal. Who gives a shit? I have yet to see an article about the sexuality of Link from The Legend of Zelda. Or are we just going to assume he is straight and pour on the hetero-guilt? I'm bi, I guess (it's a long story) and I couldn't give a flying turd who or what the people in video games want to love and/or get under the covers with. If you're spending enough time thinking about it, you're the one with the problem--the rest of us are busy not caring.

It seems the more people pretend it's an issue, the more it becomes on. We go out of our ways to invent sexuality where there isn't one. It's a video game, for Christ sake. How many times do we have to hear people say "Oh but there aren't any gay characters in video games." Says who? Crash Bandicoot from the game of the same name is now gay. There you go.

P-lease.

The article wasn't about that and it was actually well written. But I wanted to get that out there. So there you go, lol.

Patrick O'Leary:
'When a gay person hears "faggot," they hear it as a question'

E-fucking-xactly. I've recently been trying to describe the source of that burning sensation I feel when it's said, and this the perfect phrasing. Great article.

It's entirely misplaced anger. Faggot doesn't refer to a homosexual in any way and if you let it, you've only yourself to blame. It sounds absurd, but hear this out: klihobop--I invented that word just now and it means heterosexual person, especially in a negative context. From now on, I will shout it at straight people and try to make them feel bad about it. Do you think they will care? Of course not. You know why? Because who gives a shit what I think and who cares what words I want to use to express my thoughts.

If you get angry over a sound, you let them define a word and have power over you. In other words (/pun) they succeed at getting you down because you let them.

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