Letters to the Editor

Alphabet Soup


In response to “Dude Looks Like a Lady” from The Escapist Forum: When the game first came out, I was, what, 10 years old? 11? Tops, 12? I was open to a lot of ideas, since my mind was still easily impressionable. Seeing Sheik though, I instantly knew it was Zelda. Whether or not it was a man or a woman under those bandages/rags did not make him/her any less of an interesting character.

Sheik was a ninja in my eyes, thats all that mattered to me. S/he was cool. However, Sheik wasn’t the girl I once knew, the one I was striving to save…S/he was the one saving me it seemed. Her skills, from what I could tell, far surpassed mine as Link. This was why when Zelda got captured by Ganon, that it wasn’t a matter of “We can’t have a transgender character.” but more of a, “We need the princess, we need Wisdom, not another symbol of Courage.” Link was being replaced by Sheik in my eyes, thats why, whatever magick was in play, had to be reversed in order for the story to continue.

At the end of it all though, I feel as if Sheik was more of a symbol of Hope/Courage for the people (whomever was left to see this symbol) in Hyrule, while Link was on his hiatus. Whether or not Sheik was a guy or a girl made no difference to the players, or the people of Hyrule. What they needed to see was that there wasn’t only one hero to save the world. There wasn’t only one person that could stand up against the Evil in the land. You weren’t the be all end all hero for once. You were still, only human after all, and Sheik was the same, you both showed each other your mortality.

Thats how I feel about it at least.


I was under the impression that she pretended to be a male from a dying/dead race so that there’d be no way she’d be mistaken for Princess Zelda, holder of the Triforce of Wisdom. Thus, Ganondorf had to search for a young Hyrulian woman, while in the manga at least, he had one of the few remaining Sheikah working for him.

No longer having the element of surprise at her disposal, the new Sheik form doesn’t need to be so convincing (thus the more slender muscles). It just needs to be deadly.

Also, I seem to remember her transforming back into Zelda the second Link was ready to take on Ganondorf, a point at which hiding wouldn’t do much good.

One of the reasons that, in the past, women were in towers and whatnot may or may not be a direct result of the male’s general expendablity. Each woman can be impregnated by a single male, but one male can spread throughout numerous women. Thus, less males are needed, and women need to be protected (humanity fights nature tooth and nail). According to Wikipedia, there are several differences between the genders resulting from their roles in reproduction.

BTW, does this article even have a point? I didn’t see any, besides a little bit of “gender roles are not needed”. That’s nice and all, but gender roles are intrinsically tied to the very real, though certainly not impairing, differences between males and females.



In response to “Straight and Narrow” from The Escapist Forum:


The reason why it should be is that gay men and women play video games, and homosexuality is part of everyday life. I’m guessing your a straight male. Would you like to do nothing else but play as a gay character?

I have to say, I disagree with this approach. Basically, that’s a demand for positive discrimination – which is still discrimination. I wouldn’t say that just because gay people play games, there should be a requirement that there are gay characters in games – sure, if it it’s in the character design then why not, but would you really want to see characters who are explicitly singled out as “look it’s the gay-equal-inclusion” one?

It’s slightly similar (don’t take this analogy too far) to diversity policies in the workplace, and positive discrimination quotas – do you want the job because you’re qualified, or would you rather know that you only got it because the company is below their gay:straight employee threshold?

Obviously there’s nothing wrong with wanting to experience games that have characters in that you identify with, but is it so important that it has to be on a sexuality level? Are there not other characteristics in a hero character that people can draw comparison with before they get to their choice of partner?

Personally, I don’t think the sexuality of videogame characters matters a great deal – being as they’re games. I’ve never picked up a game thinking “great, time to get my heterosexual on and shoot some villains like only a straight man can” because that would be ridiculous, and yet that’s the reductio ad absurdum opposite of demanding gay characters in games. I think forcing the issue would only serve to make things worse – the ideal situation would surely be where a main character turns to their love interest of choice/plot design, be they male or female, and nobody gives a hoot.


In response to “Straight and Narrow” from The Escapist Forum: I suspect they’ll have trouble selling a game where the protagonist is openly gay, certainly if no option is given to play a straight character instead. That, I suspect, may be the main issue; the gaming industry is ultimately a business, and a game which forces its players to control a gay character (at least if their inclination has an effect on the game that’s difficult to skim over) is unlikely to ever have anything more than niche appeal.

All that makes it a fairly simple economical calculation; it costs a lot to develop a game, and forcing the straight majority to play a gay character will make a huge dent in market demand. With societal views as they are now, it just won’t be profitable to have an enforced gay protagonist.

That said, it always struck me in Mass Effect that the “Male!Shepard-walking-up-to-Kaidan” animation on board the Normandy could have quite easily fitted into a male-male romance thread. I’d have avoided it – partly because I’m straight and have no interest in playing a gay character, but mainly because I found Kaidan immensely annoying – but it could have been easily included.

It would be interesting to see some studies done – both in the highly religious areas like the US and in places like Europe where there is a… shall we say, more enlightened approach to homosexuality – to see just how much effect a gay protagonist would have on people’s interest. A character identified as gay in a game where it had little or no effect on the gameplay? It wouldn’t bother me. If it was just there as a gimmick, though, or if the game revolved around it… I’d have trouble with that, purely because I wouldn’t derive any enjoyment from it.


My god, folks, seriously.

You want proof that having a not-heterosexual male as your main character works fine? Allow me to point you to Big Boss from MGS3. Who Kojima confirmed in the Japanese commentary of the game had a thing with Ocelot, who was gay.

Knowing that, do you love the character any less? Does it make him any less of a badass? He got the girl, but he also got the guy. Oh, and EVA had a crush on the Boss, much to the glee of myself and all the other girls who adored the Boss. The next game in the series will introduce her female lover.

MGS is one of the most popular, albeit polarizing, series in gaming. There is a ton of gay in those games. A fucking lot of it. Does that make you like the games less? Would you have even noticed if you weren’t told so?

See, including homosexuality and bisexuality in games doesn’t have to be ham-fisted. It can be subtle or purely incidental, and never a defining characteristic. Queers like me might instantly pick up on the hints and get that much more enjoyment from the games. Straights can continue to naively believe Raikov and Volgin weren’t doing the nasty. Everyone wins.



In response to “Too Gay for the U.S.A.” from The Escapist Forum:

Simply accepting birdo as female, the ‘censored US version’ is infact more progressive than the article, which by its language, artificialises birdos gender, and asserts that it’s ‘really’ male. That it’s being applied to such a trivial, minor character is of no consequence, because it speaks of a larger prejudice only highlighted in this case, that should be confronted.

Thank you. At least someone noticed this. While I agree with the overall article’s point, it’s extremely offensive the way the writer continually brushes off Birdo as another example of homosexuality and sexual orientation. Repeatedly stating that Birdo’s genetic sex needs to be acknowledged, as if they’re hiding some part of herself. Sadly the writer manages to *completely* miss the point and blend together two ENTIRELY different issues into one. Sexual orientation and Gender Identity have nothing whatsoever to do with one another and to label them as such in simply outright insulting.

As stated before, the so-called “censored” edition of Mario in which it simply states Birdo as being a girl, is DRASTICALLY less offensive than anything this article has put forth.


Crossdressers and transsexuals are two entirely different things. Birdo, while genetically male, would most definitely be the female of the relationship and has no desire to be acknowledged otherwise.


This article and thread both speak volumes about the severe lack of genuine support for transsexuality, and the ignorance/prejudice among it’s so-called “supporters.”


In response to “Too Gay for the U.S.A.” from The Escapist Forum:


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.



In response to “Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That” from The Escapist Forum:

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.) 🙂


I’m still waiting for the day when a mediocre, derivative, totally mainstream and completely overhyped game gets released that features the big, burly Space Marine running off to fight aliens so his husband and children can live in the Earth Colonies of Saturn without being processed as alien foodstuffs.

If in all the media blitz surrounding the game, all the “EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK!” articles in magazines, all the “Hands-On Preview” articles on Kotaku and Destructoid and all the other video game websites, if throughout that entire maelstrom of coverage, the Space Marine’s sexual orientation isn’t mentioned at all (except maybe as a passing reference to his husband, the same way any article might refer to a game character’s love interest)… That’s how you’ll know it’s not a big deal anymore.

Probably isn’t gonna happen for another few decades, but a guy can dream.

Space Spoons

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.

The Rogue Wolf

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