Keep gay out of gaming
No homo, bro.
I’m about to perhaps earn the ire of many of my peers with the utterance of the next sentence: developers need to keep gay characters, plots, and themes out of gaming.
I say this not as a straight-edge honky-tonk heterosexual bro-dude gamer who wants to keep “those gays” as far away from me as possible – in fact, quite the opposite; I say this as a gay gamer.
A lot of gay gamers want more gay representation in games; reasons for this escape me, but often center around wanting to relate to the characters we play as – or perhaps there’s a desire for more man-flesh to be paraded around on our screens – who knows?
The points are moot. I can’t imagine a scenario where relating to game characters has been a thing – game characters are, ipso facto, so far removed from relatable space that if you can “relate” to the Ezios, Shepards and Dantes of the world, your sexual preference is probably the least of your worries. And if you want man-flesh, well there’s plenty of that already, without bringing sexuality into the mix.
But probably the biggest reason I don’t want to see gay in games is simply the fact that we’re not ready for it. Developers aren’t ready to tackle it; gamers aren’t ready to relate to it; and any attempt to do so is doomed to fail.
What is a gay theme? What is gay culture? How do you encompass something that is so varied and diverse? It’s a problem society faces in general – when you’re in front of something so large in scale, to narrow it down and put it in a box, you risk falling into the trap of stereotyping.
This, in turn, doesn’t give you something the people you’re representing can relate to, as intended – instead it’s just a messy parody of what outsiders think, looking in.
But hey, that’s unfair, because even gay developers – who aim to make gay-themed games – don’t exactly know where to peg the whole gay thing.
Gay game designer, Robert Yang is working on some experimental gay-themed games. What are they? Well one is about gay divorce. It’s a first-person shooter, but there’s no shooting – as Yang puts it:
“You just kinda sit in a marriage therapist’s office in Fresno, California and stare at your husband as he complains about how inconsiderate you are.”
His other ideas include a first-person shooter where players shoot condoms of varying size at mens’ “bulges” in order to protect them.
There’s absolutely nothing “gay-themed” about this. At all.
The BioWare truth
There’s a very important reason why “gay-themed” anything is a pointless endeavour – and it’s something which BioWare has managed to show the world without even realising it.
BioWare is often heralded as the developers who do “gay” right, by treating a character’s sexual preferences as secondary, and not falling into the trap of playing on stereotypes.
You could, in fact, argue that “gay” characters in BioWare’s worlds are…pretty normal. You know. Like every other person out there – just going about their stuff. How about that?
The simple fact is – gay people are kind of boring, like straight people. We brush our teeth, take out the garbage, and pay our taxes. It’s not “gay” taxes, and “gay” garbage. There’s nothing entirely theatrical or thematic about our lives. There’s nothing there to really fuss over.
You know who I banged in Mass Effect? Liara. Because banging a blue alien chick is probably more exciting – in terms of the game’s universe – than scoring some dude for some brief mano-a-mano cutscene.
Yet people seem to think there’s a need for it.
Lara and Lawrence
If you’re one of the people (gay or straight) who thinks that there is a mass-market appeal to gay games – think for a second about how games are marketed to you now.
We’re all familiar with gaming’s own sex-icon, Ms. Lara Croft.
Now how about a re-imagined, gay-focussed, character, whose assets are exploited in the same way.
Would you play that game? I wouldn’t – though I’m sure many gay gamers would.
When calling someone a “fag” is as common as the frag that brought about the response – and is a part of the day-to-day vocabulary of many a gamer, and indeed other straight males – bringing into focus an already marginalised group just seems like asking for trouble.
There’s no need to even mention the various religious groups and politicians who will herald the apocalypse as a result.
The world of gaming isn’t a place to play out sexuality and sexual preference. Games have had gay characters and “themes” in them already, and I’m not saying it can’t be done – but If you make it a focus, the point of the game or the main driving force, you’ll likely miss – and if you simply make it an option, you’ll see how needless it was to begin with.
Maybe there is a place for gay in games, but gamer culture and game developers have already shown that they cannot even treat females with dignity and respect – and girls have been around for ages.
In a world where female gamers are threatened, derided, and are “treated” to the many obsceneties of male gamers, how on earth could anyone think that making “gay” mainstream is in any way a good idea?
Why segment gamers even more – why do we need “gay” games? Why do we need “girl” games? Are we not all simply gamers?
Bottom line: if you can’t do it properly, rather don’t do it. Let’s just keep gay out of gaming, and just keep shooting stuff.