The Accidental Lesbian

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I had a similar experience with Baldur's Gate (unwelcome intrusion by the writer, not surprise gayness). It really is jarring. That unassuming little gnome thief I created back at the beginning, mostly useless all game, is suddenly a demigod? WTF? That just didn't work for me. I think that's part of why I never got into the sequel, and apparently I really missed out there.

And if Echo Bazaar ever gets a real login system, someone do please let me know.

Hmm... no, I can see why the player might be upset about this. And let's not try and be high and mighty; we can all easily read that the same way she did. It very much sounded like an implication to pursue romance, there's not two-ways about it.

I liked how... Jessica (had to scroll up) put it, it sounds like something that was designed for straight men, and was then plastered on for any other kind of character.

In an RPG, you make a character. Sure, it doesn't have to be like you, and most people don't want it to be, but she seemed to want her character to be straight, and that is perfectly fine. I can see why, in a Role Playing Game, she would feel like the London Master took a liberty that was to be left to the character. I would be equally upset if my DM said that my character wanted to shag the studly elven soldier boy, because I was playing Kalet as a straight male tiefling, and he was mine, not the DM's.

That being said, I think sexuality should be one of those things the game asks you at the beginning. Do you want this character to be straight? Gay? Bi? Transsexual (though that's a bit less about sexuality and more gender identity)? Asexual even? What?

It takes more writing, but I think that it would be greatly appreciated by people who want to play all types of characters.

Double post

SageRuffin:

gCrusher:

SageRuffin:
I find it weird that the player interpreted the text in that nature - maybe she just wants to visit the character for the sake of visiting?

Nah, we all just want to get our freak on, apparently. In all fairness, I've read most of the text as opportunities to be a deviate, but usually in taking from those weaker than I, regardless of what strength or skill I'm applying.

Oh trust me, I have my moments as well, but even if was completely accurate interpretation and the NPC wanted to have some "fun", how would that make the player's character sapphic (I hate using the term "lesbian"... ugh)? Unless she shows interest back, everything's good, right?

I fail to see the issue here. Or maybe I'm just weird. :/

Isn't sapphic an adjective? It's only a noun when referring to poetry of Sappho, poetess form the island of Lesbos c.600, i.e. a Sapphic verse:

Sapphic (`sæfɪk)

-- adj
1. prosody denoting a metre associated with Sappho, consisting generally of a trochaic pentameter line with a dactyl in the third foot
2. of or relating to Sappho or her poetry
3. lesbian

-- n
4. prosody a verse, line, or stanza written in the Sapphic form

EDIT: Fell right into Muphry's Law! Ouch!

Benjamin Moore:
Snippage

I meant it as an adjective, unless I jumbled my words somewhere.

To really get into the meat of the matter, what I would like to see is a game done in the Hard Rain style which is written by a collabration of both a homosexual man and woman. I think this might be one way to really understand and know how it would be to get into such a character. To roleplay them. It doesn't mean you have to change your main life sexual choices. No way. But it will give those of us who are clueless a better understanding, so we can explore our gaming choices, as well as being able to find new friends to have in our lives.
We only fear what we don't understand.

Treblaine:
Looking at LGBT themes in video games you'll find male-male homosexuality far more common And I'm really struggling to find more than two examples of games that include Lesbian coupling but not gay (male-male) coupling as well. I can only think of Rain from Fear Effect 2.

In the Mass Effect games, whether you pick a male or a female character, all your potential partners are female. There is zero male options, meaning zero male gay coupling (or female straight coupling). I remember it annoyed me when I realised that, because I had spent the whole game so far deciding which male character I liked best (because I knew you could end up with a NPC but wasn't aware of the limitations).
In a game like that, it would make more sense to have options for both, meaning that you can decide to play a straight, gay, bisexual or asexual character depending on your decisions.

Anyways, I agree female homosexuality is usually under-represented except as a fantasy for straight males (mostly). It's also the case elsewhere, studies about homosexuality seems to be only about males. Similarly you hear the "Adam and Steve" argument, but no "Ada and Eve" one. It's like lesbians are invisible sometimes.

Like some other people, it bobbles my mind that the player interpreted it that way. I'm also surprised that so many comments say "she". Does it say in the article that the player was female?
At any rate, I think I'd be fine with playing a character of any orientation provided it's established early on, either through an early cutscene or written when creating the character. Having the illusion of choice only to see it's been taken away from you is annoying. In Mass Effect, I had considered a few females as options too, but knowing I wasn't allowed to pick a male made me lose any will to keep playing the game. I felt cheated, and upset with myself. I had bought something and got something different, and I would have liked to know beforehand.

Anyways, the article's title is misleading. I was expecting a bug in which you could pick a female character but the game thought they were male so you'd marry a female and have kids with her and stuff, due to the bug. That would have been much more interesting of a bug (especially the baby part).

Avistew:
-snip-

Untrue. The female player characters have male and female romance options.

Treblaine:

Chris Gardiner:
The Accidental Lesbian

RPGs use different methods to avoid falling into the identity gap - that space between the developer's game world and the player's vision of it.

Read Full Article

in REAL LIFE people don't get to chose their own sexual-preference,

Did anyone see that, or was that just me?

OT: Ehh, a mild mistake in a great game caused a huge fuss. Be glad the ensuing conversation didn't go insulting adopted kids, or the media might begin to care.

I was wondering when that obscure, under-the-radar game by that small, underdog canadian game developer would feature in this article.

I think Dragon Age: Origins did it best. Your choice of dialogue in your Origin story clearly set up the moral codes, and personality, of your character.

Is the City Elf (rightfully) bigoted against the Humans who raped and killed his mother? Is the Dwarven noblewoman a self-centered, snooty prick? Is the plucky Dalish girl torn asunder for being dragged off to serve the Grey Wardens against her wishes? Is the mage being cast out off the circle, vengeful of her failed charges?

You can answer the most important questions yourself and thus get a good handle on how your character WOULD act in any given situation. It must have taken a LOT of effort from those Bioware kids, working out of their mom's basement.....but it was completely worth it. ;)

Avistew:

In the Mass Effect games, whether you pick a male or a female character, all your potential partners are female. There is zero male options, meaning zero male gay coupling (or female straight coupling). I remember it annoyed me when I realised that, because I had spent the whole game so far deciding which male character I liked best (because I knew you could end up with a NPC but wasn't aware of the limitations).

You didn't play Mass Effect all that much, did you? ME1 has Kaidan as a male LI for female characters, and ME2 has Garrus, Thane and Jacob. That's four male romances (Five if you include Kaidan continuing in ME2 if you romanced him in ME1).

Cavouku:
Transsexual (though that's a bit less about sexuality and more gender identity)?

Transsexuality has nothing to do with sexuality. It's about gender only. You have straight transsexuals, gay transsexuals, bi transsexuals, etc.

cairocat:
Untrue. The female player characters have male and female romance options.

Really? I was told they didn't so I stopped playing. If you're telling the truth maybe I'll pick it up again.
The male one doesn't, though? Now that's still a double standard, with female homosexuality possible and not male homosexuality.

EDIT: two people have now said so, so I assume that's true. I guess the guy who told me that meant when playing a male character.

It still counts as an example of a game that allows relationships between females and not between males, though, right? So I maintain it as an example for the specific thing I was responding to. The fact is that as fem Shepard you can be gay, straight, bi or ace and as male Shepard only straight or ace.

Spector29:

Treblaine:

Chris Gardiner:
The Accidental Lesbian

RPGs use different methods to avoid falling into the identity gap - that space between the developer's game world and the player's vision of it.

Read Full Article

in REAL LIFE people don't get to chose their own sexual-preference,

Did anyone see that, or was that just me?

OT: Ehh, a mild mistake in a great game caused a huge fuss. Be glad the ensuing conversation didn't go insulting adopted kids, or the media might begin to care.

I don't know what you mean. I know real life and virtual video games are different.

You do know that sexual preference isn't a conscious choice?

What point are you making?

Dragonrose:
Se she complained that the game maybe possibly made her a little bit almost like a lesbian. And what about the countless games that assume the player's character is either straight or asexual? I wouldn't see her complain then... *sigh* :/

Tis why I love Dragon Age, honestly, no assumptions, plenty of options. <3

Of course she wouldn't complain if it assumed she was a heterosexual woman! That was the sexual preference she imagined her character with in the first place.
Someone did say that just because this had to do with homosexuality someone would rush to it's defence for some unknown reason.
And I think she would have complained about asexuality too bro.

Eh. Sounds to me like the player started assuming things that weren't written in the dialog and them blamed the game developer for it. It never said what the motive for wanting the address was. This player incorrectly assumed it meant it the character wanted to hit on this woman, and then blamed the game. Not the game's fault though. That identity gap thing makes sense, but that line of dialog clearly did not intrude on it. The player just started reading more text than what was presented and got offended at her own assumptions. Shame on that player for filing a bug report for that.

cairocat:
Untrue. The female player characters have male and female romance options.

What you said is untrue. The female player does not have female romance options.

ME1 has Kaiden, a male, and Liara, an Asari which is a mono-gendered race that is not male or female.
ME2 has Jacob, a male, Garrus, a male, and Thane, a male. The closest it gets is Kelly, which isn't actually a romance option, just some dialog that barely even qualifies as flirting. Certainly not a romance option, as evidenced by that and by not getting the romance achievement for "flirting" with her.

No female romance options for a female Shepard in either currently released Mass Effect game. So far, both male and female Shepard are straight. They're supposed to allow more choices in that department for #3 though.

Avistew:
Really? I was told they didn't so I stopped playing. If you're telling the truth maybe I'll pick it up again.
The male one doesn't, though? Now that's still a double standard, with female homosexuality possible and not male homosexuality.

EDIT: two people have now said so, so I assume that's true. I guess the guy who told me that meant when playing a male character.

It still counts as an example of a game that allows relationships between females and not between males, though, right? So I maintain it as an example for the specific thing I was responding to. The fact is that as fem Shepard you can be gay, straight, bi or ace and as male Shepard only straight or ace.

Nope, don't worry. There's no double standard in there. Just people not paying attention to what an Asari is.

Ah, Echo Bazaar. It's one of those games where I like to select options either at random or for what I think will benefit me the most, and then retroactively come up with justifications for why my character did it. As a result, my character is in denial about his possible bisexuality. He insists that he and the Revolutionary Firebrand are just friends, and that the night he spent with the Once-Dashing Smuggler (another tomb colonist, someone who is so badly scarred that they have to keep themself wrapped up like a mummy) doesn't count - after all, he's not really human, so he doesn't count as a male.

xXxJessicaxXx:

Bioware like to keep all thier funny and interesting characters single, like Varric and Joker

And Deekin! Don't forget Deekin!

on a totally different note (i like to see the little things in articles) the best games end up those where you dont actually speak, anyone notice?

mjc0961:
Nope, don't worry. There's no double standard in there. Just people not paying attention to what an Asari is.

Well, it was described to me as a race in which there are no males, only females. And while I can understand they concept that since there is only one gender, it's neither male nor female, if it looks like a female human it makes sense that people will be attracted to it if they're attracted to females, not males. And considering I first heard about the game because of all the "hot lesbian action" people were talking about, I'm going to assume it looks like a female.
And well, saying "it's not a female, just an alien in which the only gender looks like a female" is similar to the technique in manga in anime that goes "yeah, this female having sex is over 18! She only looks like she's eight!" In other words, tiny veiled fanservice.
But I could be wrong about that, since I haven't completed the game and probably wouldn't have any interest in that specific character if I did.

But thanks for clarifying the whole thing. So in your opinion the game isn't double-standard as much as it's heteronormative then?

DA:O suffers from a more subtle invasion of the identity gap: the choices the game presents you are very black or white. That's not necessarily in the sense that you either do the good thing or the bad thing (although it quite often is), but that there never is any middle ground you can choose. The writers must assume my character is unable to see false dichotomies and inhabits a world where that is the norm.

Ironically enough, they call that "making moral choices".

Ah well, it was still a fun game.

Great article, and nice to see from someone who actually is close to the fire, instead of from a journalist who talked about it with people like you. But as said by someone on Facebook: lame, cheap title. Sure, it works and all, but you totally insult the nourished image of my own intelligence.

:(

Strazdas:
on a totally different note (i like to see the little things in articles) the best games end up those where you dont actually speak, anyone notice?

or at least speak very little.

I think the old maxim about conversational advice applies doubly for characters:

"Never be afraid to be stay silent and have everyone suspect you are stupid, far better than opening your mouth and Removing All Doubt"

It's tempting to developers to make their character chatty, but why? Why is the game better off with your character going off on long soliloquies that most likely don't line up with the player's own position?

The way I'd have it is characters would never verbalise their intentions, emotions or preferences, but have that entirely determined by DEED. The games should never make assumptions about the character, so you sleep with whoever and whatever you like without the game trying to pigeon hole you. Labels like gays, straight or lesbian are based on assumption and only possibly work with self-identification.

Like for example in Bioshock (minor spoiler) the way you react to little-sisters affects the ending. But the way you treat little-sisters should not force your decision at the end, in other words you can be bad all your life you can still be good at the 11th hour.

Alternate Endings should only be how the OTHER CHARACTERS treat you, so if you have been bad then you will be punished, and if you are good you will be rewarded.

Chris Gardiner:

What makes a game an RPG isn't a character sheet or experience points - plenty of genres use those - it's the sense of ownership you feel over your avatar. Maybe you have to build it from statistics first, give it a class and a name, or just pick from a handful of archetypes. But the process doesn't stop when play starts: Every time you make a decision about who your protagonist is, you're creating. [...]
For this to work, RPG designers have to leave a hero-shaped hole in the middle of their fiction. We'll call it the identity gap. That's the space that's left to the player [...]

[...] this becomes a [...] way to tackle the problem [of making a decision; of a RPG not being about experience points; of the sense of ownership over the protagonist; of the identity gap]. The Final Fantasy Solution: the game tells the player everything about their character. Who they are, where they've been, what their relationships are. This changes the character of the game - the player's along for the ride, only rarely allowed to take the wheel.

Is he not contradicting himself? Oh yes he is. This guy just is not worth his two cents.
What he basicly says is this: RPGs are not about experience points but the control you extend over the protagonist´s person. Well, why is Final Fantasy a RPG then? Following your explanation of Final Fantasy´s method you have no ownership of the characters, they are a predetermined lot. There is no identity gap. Thus Final Fantasy not having an identity gap and solving the problem of the identity gap is contradicting your argument. Thus the identity gap is not the core principle of a RPG like the author claims but something else. How about experience points?
Someone try to explain that to me. It did not take me two seconds to recognize how stupid this article is the moment the author said RPGs are not about experience points. RPG is per definitionem statistical grwoth of your character through repetitive action.
Go watch the RPG Fanatic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDTjJTfJgwM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfom6Yb6NaI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5L86X5_SQrU he usually has a very good method presenting this argument.

Deathlisk:

Of course she wouldn't complain if it assumed she was a heterosexual woman! That was the sexual preference she imagined her character with in the first place.
Someone did say that just because this had to do with homosexuality someone would rush to it's defence for some unknown reason.
And I think she would have complained about asexuality too bro.

Not defending anything but the player choice. It would be the same with any other type of player choice. Personally I wouldn't like it for a game that leaves it open to me to assume I'm black or white, religious or not, male or female, pancake or crepe lover.

The point is, if you're leaving it all up to player on character creation you shouldn't assume later on, that's just common sense, imo.

And "bro"? Why are you assuming I'm male? ;)

coldalarm:

Avistew:

In the Mass Effect games, whether you pick a male or a female character, all your potential partners are female. There is zero male options, meaning zero male gay coupling (or female straight coupling). I remember it annoyed me when I realised that, because I had spent the whole game so far deciding which male character I liked best (because I knew you could end up with a NPC but wasn't aware of the limitations).

You didn't play Mass Effect all that much, did you? ME1 has Kaidan as a male LI for female characters, and ME2 has Garrus, Thane and Jacob. That's four male romances (Five if you include Kaidan continuing in ME2 if you romanced him in ME1).

Cavouku:
Transsexual (though that's a bit less about sexuality and more gender identity)?

Transsexuality has nothing to do with sexuality. It's about gender only. You have straight transsexuals, gay transsexuals, bi transsexuals, etc.

True. I still think that would be an interesting aspect to an RPG character though. It's kind of interesting, because an RPG character can be whoever you want them to be, whether or not they want to be that...

...There's a word for that, and it's not irony, despite the fact I want to say it is... it's not irony, right?

Bioware? Underdogs? I don't know the numbers, and you may be right as far as they go, but Bioware has been the king of RPGs since I was just a wee little lad. If I'm thinking about RPGs I'm either thinking about Bioware, Black Isle, or Square Enix.

Treblaine:

Looking at LGBT themes in video games you'll find male-male homosexuality far more common And I'm really struggling to find more than two examples of games that include Lesbian coupling but not gay (male-male) coupling as well. I can only think of Rain from Fear Effect 2.

In fact I'd argue there is a shocking absence of lesbianism in gaming!

You can't object to all presentation of lesbianism in media as titillation for a male audience, as how is that going to screw over lesbians who want their interests depicted?

I assume you're talking about a serious treatment of homosexual relationships, because i could list a whole pile of games where lesbianism exists solely for the titillation of men.

Treblaine:
Games need to take a more flexible approach to sexuality considering that your character is in such a weird state of essentially two people in one:
(1) The fictional in-game character
(2) the real person at the controls trying to fit in the role.

Really you can't say "oh, I'm a lesbian now"

Lesbian means far more than "female with fleeting crush on another female". It is indicated by ongoing actions that ultimately depends on the player DECIDING to follow through with.

Of course there are those who "know" they are gay, just the same as I have always "known" I am straight, that is simply because one can only imagine having partners of a certain gender.

But at the end of the day, you CANNOT really get into a relationship that does not resonate with your own sexuality, it breaks the immersion too much. But I think it is all right to give someone gay history, for either gender, and let them either pursue or leave it.

Yahtzee didn't seem to have a problem roleplaying a homosexual relationship..

Your solution seems wholly unrealistic. Very few people would ever reflect on their heterosexual history, chooses to reject it, and become gay. It just doesn't work that way.

Really the issue isn't about sexuality so much as the extent to which the player is designing or discovering the character. The problem here was encouraging the player to define their character, but then force-feeding them a line that seemed to contradict the player's self-constructed backstory. That's what breaks immersion.

Treblaine:
So I suppose Half Life 2 screws over Straight Females and Gay Males with the very personal interactions and relationship with Alyx. Though purely platonic at the moment, there are undercurrents.

Now if Half Life 2 had been about Gina Freeman... would that have really changed anything?

Half-Life 2 doesn't make any assumptions about Gordon Freeman's sexuality, because he never interacts with anyone. Other characters will interact with him, and Alyx clearly demonstrates some level of attraction, but it's up to the player to decide how Gordon reacts to her, and the player's means of expression are limited to jumping, strafing, shooting and ducking.

Spector29:

Treblaine:

in REAL LIFE people don't get to chose their own sexual-preference,

Did anyone see that, or was that just me?

I saw that, but it seemed like a silly point. Of course it's true, but same goes for sex or general appearance. If you can pick for a character to be male or female, tall or short, that's also things people don't get to pick in real life. And while they are imposed at times in games, you're usually aware of it from the start so it doesn't come up as a bad surprise later on.

Although I've had text games that said "you" all the time and it became frustrating when it became obvious that the "you" wasn't me at all like I had assumed it might be at first.

so.... they wrote echo bazaar so that it could apply to both types of avatar but made a slight mistake in the writing of this particular quest... and some got all up in a tizzy over it?

Either way, great article on narratives and roleplaying structure.

Here is a prime opportunity for a roleplaying CHOICE. Option one: read the little flavour text as your character having less than honourable intentions toward the lady him or herself. Option two: read it as a non-romantically interested party who simply likes the lady. Neither choice is automatic or required, but you do have to actually pay attention to make it. So here is a point where the player, rather than DECIDE the interpretation most accurate to the character she had chosen to create, got tetchy because it allowed the possibility of her character being a lesbian. That's not a bug, just poor reading and reasoning skills.

Avistew:

cairocat:
Untrue. The female player characters have male and female romance options.

Really? I was told they didn't so I stopped playing. If you're telling the truth maybe I'll pick it up again.
The male one doesn't, though? Now that's still a double standard, with female homosexuality possible and not male homosexuality.

EDIT: two people have now said so, so I assume that's true. I guess the guy who told me that meant when playing a male character.

It still counts as an example of a game that allows relationships between females and not between males, though, right? So I maintain it as an example for the specific thing I was responding to. The fact is that as fem Shepard you can be gay, straight, bi or ace and as male Shepard only straight or ace.

I was under the impression that it was more a matter of time budgeting and statistics. BioWare didn't have the time to finish all their romance options and figured out that their smallest demographic of player characters was going to be homosexual males, so that's what they chose to cut. Regardless of the validity of that, I do know that they're making it a point to include homosexual male relationships in ME3.

cairocat:
I was under the impression that it was more a matter of time budgeting and statistics. BioWare didn't have the time to finish all their romance options and figured out that their smallest demographic of player characters was going to be homosexual males, so that's what they chose to cut. Regardless of the validity of that, I do know that they're making it a point to include homosexual male relationships in ME3.

It makes sense, certainly, although while gay males might a small demographic, I don't think gay females are much bigger, and well, I'm a straight female, not a gay guy.
What I mean by that is that in my opinion it's more of a matter of demand than matching the person's orientation; in other words, straight males are their main audience, and they're more likely to be interested in playing a female and hitting on what looks like another female than playing a male and hitting on another male. Just like I'm more interested in playing a male and hitting on another male than playing a female and hitting on what looks like a female.
But I realise straight women and gay guys are considered a much smaller audience than straight guys.

Avistew:

It makes sense, certainly, although while gay males might a small demographic, I don't think gay females are much bigger, and well, I'm a straight female, not a gay guy.
What I mean by that is that in my opinion it's more of a matter of demand than matching the person's orientation; in other words, straight males are their main audience, and they're more likely to be interested in playing a female and hitting on what looks like another female than playing a male and hitting on another male. Just like I'm more interested in playing a male and hitting on another male than playing a female and hitting on what looks like a female.
But I realise straight women and gay guys are considered a much smaller audience than straight guys.

That's exactly what I meant. They probably asked 1000 testers to submit their sex and sexuality choices and budgeted focus accordingly. That being said, I'd be thrilled if there was a whole slew of sexuality choices in RPGs from now on (mainly because that's a choice and, well, more choices are sorta what RPGs are about). I think we're in agreement here.

LESBIANS !!!11!!!1!!!!!!...... Now let's discuss narrative structure =)

OT: That was fun, but i don't really have anything insightful to add since the article was basically just an explanation of different approaches narrative design

cobra_ky:

Treblaine:

Looking at LGBT themes in video games you'll find male-male homosexuality far more common And I'm really struggling to find more than two examples of games that include Lesbian coupling but not gay (male-male) coupling as well. I can only think of Rain from Fear Effect 2.

In fact I'd argue there is a shocking absence of lesbianism in gaming!

You can't object to all presentation of lesbianism in media as titillation for a male audience, as how is that going to screw over lesbians who want their interests depicted?

I assume you're talking about a serious treatment of homosexual relationships, because i could list a whole pile of games where lesbianism exists solely for the titillation of men.

You could start by naming at least one. I don't mean a throw away reference or bit character, I mean a protagonist.

Apart from Rain in Fear Effect 2 I can't think of a single lesbian protagonists. Not surprising considering how female protagonists are fairly rare and when they are depicted their relationship status is never covered. Like for example:

Chell (Portal)
Claire Redfield (RE2/CV)
Zoey (left 4 dead)
Lara Croft
Bayonetta

All have a blank or ambiguous sexual relationship status. Jill Valentine passes BARELY with a throwaway reference to her shacking up with some guy called Carlos.

Maybe I'm jumping the gun here, expecting a proportional representation of lesbian relationships when there seems to be such a lack of acknowledgement of even female heterosexuality. Plenty of male protagonists have female partners.

Mind you, when developers do try to give females protagonists a relationship and fuck it up so badly you see why so many don't bother:

Metroid: The Other M

Oh god, just recalling the game gives me a migraine.

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