[In this reprinted #altdevblogaday opinion piece, game design student Andrew Meade explains why games should present a "respectable cadre of [LGBT] characters that entertain and enlighten".]
This is going to be a real difficult post to make without seeming "soapboxy", but I'm going to do my best to just talk with you guys about this issue, and I hope you will do your best to forgive me if my rhetoric gets too hyperbolic. Good? Good.
Can you name three homosexual characters in popular video games that were NOT made by BioWare, Bethesda, or Rockstar?
Anders Looking Super-Fly And Super-Bi!
If you can, leave it in the comments – I would love to see what you come up with. I'm not saying there aren't any homosexual characters in any video games, but I am saying that you're likely hard-pressed to think of three in one sitting.
So what's the issue? Where are all of our LGBT friends? I mean, it's 2011 – we're all mature socially responsible adults, right? Surely our industry isn't homophobic, is it?
Right now the U.S. is having a great deal of turmoil over the topic of homosexuality, and the rights that they do not currently have. Now, let's not make this a political or religious discourse, but couldn't we, as an industry, raise awareness over how people of different sexual preferences aren't all that different from us?
Clearly we're not afraid of controversy or touchy subjects. Hell, even a game like Modern Warfare
, a game seldom known for its deep odysseys of philosophical thought, had the controversial "No Russian" level.
Now, it could be argued that the level was included purely to be sensationalist, but it did get a lot of people thinking. Would you end the lives of hundreds of civilians for the greater good? Would your soul be able to bear the weight of that action?
I guess it doesn't matter though. We can shoot kids, and we can mass murder civilians, but we can't have "fags" in our games, right? Why is that? Are we afraid of fucking offending anyone? Guess what – people are already offended by our very existence
. Is it because we can't relate to homosexuals? I don't know about you, but I can. I have so many homosexual friends that I can't even put a number on them – and I doubt I'm in the minority on that.
This paragraph. I've written it and rewritten it over and over again. I'm getting fired up, wondering where we're at as a collective of people, and why a major group of people is excluded from our fun and games, and the only thing I can think is that we're just scared. What's there to be scared of? The Fox News piece about how we're corrupting our youth? Are publishers gating us? What's the deal here?
We are an artistic industry. We want to be recognized as a serious and legitimate force. The fact that LGBT kids out there, being shit on at high schools – bullied and contemplating suicide – don't have a role model in the games they play, is disgraceful. It's shameful. We have a responsibility to make characters that people love, relate to, and enjoy spending time with.
We'd Still Love You If You Were Gay, Nathan!
Now, I'm not saying that every game has to feature a gay character. That would be pandering. I'm also not saying that we need to just randomly shoehorn LGBTs into a game to up the diversity, but what I am saying, is that we need a respectable cadre of characters that entertain and enlighten – characters that just happen to lead alternate lifestyles.
What if at the end of Uncharted 3, we found out that the reason why Drake could never hold down a relationship, and why he always acts like an insufferable douche, was because he had been wrestling with his sexuality for his entire life? What if at the end of Uncharted 3
, Drake came out?
If that happened I would slow clap. I really would.
I admit that we're not "there" yet. We're not ready for Drake to be gay, but let's take a step in that direction, eh?
[This piece was reprinted from #AltDevBlogADay, a shared blog initiative started by @mike_acton devoted to giving game developers of all disciplines a place to motivate each other to write regularly about their personal game development passions.]