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Opinion: Awful Lot Of Heterosexuals Around Here
Opinion: Awful Lot Of Heterosexuals Around Here
December 30, 2011 | By Andrew Meade

December 30, 2011 | By Andrew Meade
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    133 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



[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.

QUICK QUESTION!

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.


"No Russian"
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.]


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Comments


Iulian Mocanu
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The only character I can think of right now would be Fiona from The Longest Journey, but it was only a minor character in a game that probably isn't that well know outside of Europe. I remember Extra Credits making an episode on the subject, and using one of the Persona games as a great example. But that's in Japan. You won't be seeing a more evolved representation in western games, especially mainstream NA games, due to one major issue. A lot them use prejudice, xenophobia and racism as a selling point.

The No Russian bit is actually a good example of that. Sure, it makes you think about it, but that's an unforeseen secondary consequence of scene created for the sole purpose of making the game popular by any means necessary. The game isn't deep enough to have a proper story, let alone subtext.

Until that changes, you can expect anyone who isn't a straight, white male with short brown hair from the USA to be discriminated or at best ignored by the bigger games that need to sell millions.

Dave McKee
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I totally forgot about her! There's also a police officer later in the game who is also homo as well.

Joe McGinn
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Mass Effect was mentioned below, as was Fable III, and Skyrim also allows same-sex marriage I believe. To me that's doing it right ... it is an interactive choice and as such actually adds to the quality of the experience. Something like Drake being revealed as gay at the end of a linear, non-interactive choice is a poor example, because it's just boring - I couldn't care less one way or the other.



So forget about counting gay or non-gay characters. As an interactive medium this issue is tied up in the quality of interactive story-telling itself. If you find an interactive game where there's no good reason not to allow same-sex relationships, but the developer has just turned them off, that's worth getting upset about - both as a defence of LBGT rights and as a defence of quality interactive entertainment.

B Reg
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Interesting discussion. To be honest, the only reason we're still waiting for a homosexual maincharacter is because it doesn't sell. Although being hetrosexual myself, I grew up along quite a few homosexuals and am free of any prejudices. But the majority of people/gamers are just not. It's also a cultural phenomena; it saddens me to see so many groups of people on this planet still not accepting homosexuals for what they are, indoctrinated by their enviroment or culture/religion.

Douglas Gregory
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"the only reason we're still waiting for a homosexual maincharacter is because it doesn't sell"



Has it been tried?



If I recall correctly, that same justification was used to explain why games didn't have female main characters not so long ago. Now we have several franchises with strong female leads that have successfully found an audience among men and women alike.



Granted, there's still a long way to go for gender equality in games, but I think this goes to show that the "don't need to try it, it doesn't match our market so it won't sell" mentality has lead us wrong before.

Joe Cooper
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People say that for everything that isn't already on the market. Until it is. Don't be so timid; this is a frontier industry.

Ahti Belvar
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Usually i find that when a game does something controversial its in respect to a moral dilema, like your example with modern warfare, thereby leading the player to question whether its right or wrong in the global scheme of things. I don't know if this is still a thing but there are some people who think of homosexuality as a choice, rather than simply being wired that way.

With that in mind does this idea risk exposing homosexuality as a choice with moral consequences?

Following that, does this possibly start getting people to think of homosexuality and heterosexuality as right or wrong rather that two different, but equal, states of being?



As far as role models are concerned, i think that a role model is, and should be defined by more than their sexuality, and that a truly inspirational person would be as such to both homosexuals and heterosexuals. I imagine you probably didn't mean it in this way and if not then please disregard, but in my opinion you can't really suggest that all (or even most) of the lessons portrayed in a game where there are no homosexual characters, aren't valid to a homosexual kid/teenager/adult, because THAT idea right there is disgraceful, and completely counter intuitive to the idea of equality.



Personally as a gamer, i couldn't care less about whether or not any of the characters in a game are gay or not as long as this pointless information isn't shoved down my throat i am a happy player in that regard.

As a developer, i would have enormous respect for any game developer that can add in exciting, compelling characters without reinforcing stereotypes or cliches, or without offending someone horribly.

Florian Garcia
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I have no problem with gay people. I have good gay friends.

I have no problem with more gay characters in games. If there's a need for the game.

I have no problem with no gay characters in games.



If it doesn't serve a purpose in a game, story wise, gameplay wise, why should a "gay" level of detail be implemented. I see no issue with what the industry is currently doing. It is most of the time up to the creative people behind a game to create this level of details.

A game is a creative achievement so it shouldn't be enforced to the creative persons to include this or that because some people think a community should be more represented, often without asking this said community.

I'm not convinced that gay gamers want to see more gay characters in their games. And frankly, those characters might just get them annoyed because of being designed be an heterosexual person who doesn't understand an homosexual person very well.

Joe Wreschnig
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"I'm not convinced that gay gamers want to see more gay characters in their games."



I've not met a single non-straight gamer - or really, non-straight person - that doesn't want more equitable representation of non-straight people in games. "More" and "more equitable" are of course not the same thing, but you're not going to get a more equitable representation without also getting more given how few there are right now.



(Similarly, I've never met a female gamer who doesn't want more equitable representation of women in games, nor a person of color who doesn't want more equitable representation of non-white people in games - although I am not either of those things, so my ability to speak on those issues is more limited.)



"And frankly, those characters might just get them annoyed because of being designed be an heterosexual person who doesn't understand an homosexual person very well."



No person is exactly like any other person. Artists make things about rich and poor people, people with superpowers, people with terminal diseases and physical and mental handicaps, people of other genders and races and religions.



Sometimes they do it with poor intentions ("we need another character, what's his defining trait? oh, being gay/black/female!"), and yeah, they need to be taken to task for that bullshit. But sometimes they do it with the best of intentions and still get it wrong. That's okay! Sometimes you do something and you don't do it right. So you open yourself to criticism (like this article), learn, and try again.



There is nothing special about "gayness" that makes it less addressable than any other trait, except lack of practice. And you don't get that practice by not doing it.

Florian Garcia
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"I've not met a single non-straight gamer - or really, non-straight person - that doesn't want more equitable representation of non-straight people in games. "More" and "more equitable" are of course not the same thing, but you're not going to get a more equitable representation without also getting more given how few there are right now."



Frankly, those i know just don't want the attention. They are and feel normal and would like this whole gay matter to be perceived this way by others. I mean, you're nothing special because you like woman, right? So i guess most homosexuals want to be seen the same way. They just have different taste for their sexuality. I think the extravagant side of the homosexual community that always need more representation is probably a minority within this community.



I guess what I'm trying to say is that if there isn't a need for the game to display the sexuality of a character then it is no use to try enforcing it.

Joe Wreschnig
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"I guess what I'm trying to say is that if there isn't a need for the game to display the sexuality of a character then it is no use to try enforcing it."



Except games display the sexuality of the main character *all the time*. The idea that you can ignore it is straight privilege, and the subtext is that rather than portraying alternative sexualities we should be hiding them.



Virtually every NES game did not have sex. But huge numbers of them had you as a male rescuing princesses, girlfriends, wives, or women who became your love interest by the end. That's a pro-straight (and sexist) subtext.



Heterosexuality is everywhere in games, and you're totally blind to it.

Florian Garcia
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Frankly, I'm wondering if you aren't at war with you own demons.

A male hero saving princesses or female characters comes from the symbolic of the strong saving the weak or someone saving a loved one.

What is important here? That a male saves a male or a male saves a woman? I don't think so. People will agree that what's important is the main character saving a loved one (partner, mother, father, sister, brother or whatever). If you can't get the essence of a story without trying to apply it to your own sexuality, you won't be able to enjoy a lot of things (literature, movies, games...).

But anyways, if you feel the need of more representation, the best way is to pull up your sleeves and make a game. It might even encourage more people to do so the same way it happened in literature and later movies.

Joe Wreschnig
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"Frankly, I'm wondering if you aren't at war with you own demons."



I'm not even sure what this is supposed to mean. Not that I'm unfamiliar with the idiom, but I can't see any way it applies to me or anything I've said. The discrimination I am "at war" with is very real, imposed by bigots in positions of power, enforced by governments, and affects my life and the lives of millions on a daily basis.



"A male hero saving princesses or female characters comes from the symbolic of the strong saving the weak or someone saving a loved one."



It's amazing how in one sentence you've thrown feminism *and* gay rights under the bus for the sake of "symbolism" (in quotes because Mario saving Peach isn't even symbolic - it's literally someone saving a loved one).



"If you can't get the essence of a story without trying to apply it to your own sexuality, you won't be able to enjoy a lot of things (literature, movies, games...)."



And this is exactly why the only excuse for not finding more non-straight (non-male, non-white) characters into games is bigotry and discrimination.

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William Barnes
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@ Joe Wreschnig



"It's amazing how in one sentence you've thrown feminism *and* gay rights under the bus for the sake of "symbolism" (in quotes because Mario saving Peach isn't even symbolic - it's literally someone saving a loved one)."



What I really find amazing is, that usually the most vocal of these groups, are not really representing their groups as a whole in wanting any type of equality, but in reality want superiority, or domination.



If one digs deep enough into most of these most vocal of advocates, you might discover what I already know. Don't get me wrong here, one of my friends IS gay (I'm not) and I take people for a more individual level instead of as a group. I know not everyone who cries for equality is looking for retribution/superiority/domination either, but there are many (not a majority) where such "equality" is a one way street in their favor only.

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William Barnes
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@ Dan Eisenhower

"What do you mean "these groups"? Women and homosexuals? That's a lot of people. Sounds like you're just a bigot and you're channeling your own prejudice into some loopy paranoia."



Sorry Dan, not a bigot in any way shape or form. But if you wish to immediately label me that as you either misunderstand and/or misinterpret my words... that could be construed as being paranoid of such by any logically thinking person and I'd rather believe you're not a bigot either, for bigots are the saddest of individuals on the planet.



Outside of obvious differences that are psychological and physical (where differences do abound,) I do believe in equality. Each individual IS a human, and thus, have the same rights to pursue the lifestyles (right or wrong) or jobs they wish. Just because someone is a minority doesn't mean they're any worse or any better than being part of the majority.



I'm NOT saying "these groups," in general, are out looking to become superior under the guise of equality. I'm saying there are some in the most vocal parts that would love for this to be that way. I'm NOT saying the whole group wants it that way, nor am I saying ALL of the most vocal within a group do either.

Luis Guimaraes
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Hm, I'm actually likely hard-pressed to think of three in one sitting, mostly because I don't remember the names or the exact chars but I know there's many of them, specially in fighting games and jRPGs, which require a multitude of varied characters.



Besides, lot's of games don't even have any characters and some of them focus the character sweat mostly on vilains, where it's wise to avoid controversy (everybody remembers RE5's case).



And once there's no problem for Drake to be gay or not, then why is it important to know if he is or not? But I agree, he'd at least not be an stereotypic gay character in that case.

Luis Guimaraes
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No I didn't watch that series. All I can't think about now of an exemple I liked was the couple in "It's All Relative" and the whole treatment given by the series, despite the light stereotypic depiction of the characters.



Maybe comedy is just more suited when dealing with any potentially controversial themes, since it keeps the mood in good feeling grounds. But it seems having more than one homosexual character makes it fairly easier to work with while having the whole audience less likely to hate on your work.

Jason Bakker
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Jann Walker from Valkyria Chronicles - great character, great game!



I'd love to see more diversity of all kinds in games :)

Kenneth Blaney
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Also Dallas Wyatt.



Although both are sort of stereotypes, they are fleshed out in other ways as well to the stereotypical manner of their homosexuality (effeminate, gay male and man-hating, gay female) is less pronounced.

Joe Wreschnig
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Jann was amazing, not just because he was an openly gay soldier, but because he was flaming and yet not reduced to a stereotype.

Kenneth Blaney
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FrontierVille let you make your spouse any gender you wanted instead of locking it in to the alternate gender of your character. The problem, of course, is that any level of conscious inclusion is always going to be a tight rope to walk. That is, overtly shoe-horning it in or subtly slipping it in by relying on stereotypes is going to equally ruin an otherwise good game. Its that "Goldilocks zone" reality that makes devs uncomfortable in dealing with it when there are so many other things which can be made better by cranking it to 11. (When in doubt, make the boss bigger to make it more a more epic experience).

Michael Joseph
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One practical option perhaps is more choice when it comes to designing your playable character. Instead of forcing a user to be one specific main character in their game, let them tailor it to their liking. And why not go beyond that and let them tailor the minor characters too? I don't necessarily mean litterally customizing minor characters, but perhaps selecting from an options menu the degree of "progressiveness" of the simulation with respect to gender, roles, and orientation.



In this way players that don't want to see certain things can disable them. More expensive for developers? Probably. Open up a gameplay in a way that might actually draw in audiences and make it worthwhile financially. Possibly.

*shrug*



Look at some of the mods for Saints Row 2. They've got everything from armed furries to hip swinging men in spedos running around.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kTJI30KsiU



Saints Row 3 customization almost resmembles something law enforcement uses to create suspect composites



Bottom line is this... games have the ability to be very accomodating. So why not. It doesn't have to be an either or proposition. There's a lot of smart and creative people making games. Think of something. Maybe you change the landscape as to what DLC can offer? A user doesn't want a certain pack? They don't have to buy it. It can be a win win for gamers and developers.

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Terry Matthes
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Having an accurate representation of sexual bias in a games is a noble goal, but I feel that it conflicts with the large misconception that young teen boys are the only people that play games. When games are still largely perceived as being marketed to kids homosexuality gets demonized as some sort of perverted subject that children shouldn't be exposed to.



Another thing to look at is the creators artistic values. If an artist doesn't want to add gay characters to their game who are we to say it's wrong. They've worked hard to make their game and deserve to represent the characters in any light the choose.



In the end I suppose it's all about money. When profits are involved and you could potentially loose your job if you don't make the shareholders money a homosexual character isn't worth the perceived risk. I suppose in this case that greed is actually giving the boot to progressively accurate representations of society.



Personally I think video games are one of the last places that gay people will get equal and fair representation. The vast majority of school teachers still aren't allowed to read books to kids like "Daddy, Papa and Me" to their students, so I can't imagine that the general public would be ok with their kids playing games with similar themes.

Joe Wreschnig
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"If an artist doesn't want to add gay characters to their game who are we to say it's wrong."



We're participants in the culture in which they are creating art. We are also customers. Both of those provide us with more than enough privilege to say it's wrong, although we may ourselves also be wrong. Are you claiming we are incapable of passing moral and ethical judgement on any "artistic" decision, ever?

Terry Matthes
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@ Joe Wresching I'm not saying we are incapable of judging art and I think I was looking art in a more purist context. Something like a painter being criticized for what they are painting. The video game industry is more consumer driven and is a little more complicated I suppose. Good point sir.

Brandon Bell
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Wait a minute, does a consumer buy a game because of a vested interest in the main character's sexuality? I believe the reason why no one can name a homosexual character in a game is because no one cares. Video games are meant to be fun, and fun isn't derived from the story, the main character, or the setting of the game. Those are all superficial icing on the cake. It comes from the basic mechanics and actions that the player takes while playing the game.



Before anyone looked at the "No Russian" level in modern warfare, before it became controversial, it had to be an interesting game. It was a good game because of the basic mechanics of the first person shooter genre that it employed. The same with goes with Uncharted, Halo, Gears of War, and even Super Mario Brothers. The games themselves were popular before the characters were idolized.



Sure, if a game came out that openly promoted a homosexual main character, there would be extra support from the gay community, but the overall success of that title would depend on the gameplay itself.



Additionally, who says Drake isn't gay? We all know Marcus and Dom are close, but how close? Almost every male in Mortal Kombat has a really touchy feely friendship move. How do we know what their sexuality is? If Nathan Drake were a real life character, he would probably tell you to mind your own business.

Michael Joseph
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"Wait a minute, does a consumer buy a game because of a vested interest in the main character's sexuality? I believe the reason why no one can name a homosexual character in a game is because no one cares."





If no one cares then what's the problem?

Your argument doesn't hold water.



And i think your use of the word "promoted" is problematic. Does the existance of a gay character equate to promoting that character? If this is true, then it must be true for heterosexual characters as well. Does the non existance of a class of character demote that class of characters?



Before The Cosby Show, there weren't a lot of tv series that showed middle class black families. Do you think The Cosby Show promoted middle class black families? Prior to that show, did not having such a series demote middle class black families? In a way that's exactly what it does even though the other shows nor The Cosby Show were trying to be racial or political. The mere existance or non existance shapes societal views.



I think advocates for balanced representation of all classes of people in media understand just this.

B Reg
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"Wait a minute, does a consumer buy a game because of a vested interest in the main character's sexuality?"



People buy Tomb Raider because Lara Croft has big oranges. People talk about the ability to have sex in The Witcher. People love Mass Effect because you can have a sexual relation with NPC's. Catherine anyone?



It might not always be about the sexual nature or interest of the maincharacter, but sex definitely plays its roll in the game industrie.

Michael Joseph
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@Anthony Taylor



In a way it does. But not in the sense that it's telling people to go out and start shooting people. (which is what i believe you were implying)



And that's why your analogy is not a very good one. Existance of a gay character isn't promoting homosexual conversion.



edit:

I think critics are more concerned about the creation of atmosphere that generates a "normalizing effect." That's probably more precise than "promoting" which suggests active proselytizing.

Fernando Figueiredo
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@Michael J "Does the existance of a gay character equate to promoting that character? If this is true, then it must be true for heterosexual characters as well."



How can you promote something if it's just like the majority of it's direct competitors (as some of you claim it)?



In my humble opinion, you heard from a game character mostly if it was original in many aspects (first one eyed dog to put a foot on Antarctida, for instance) or if the game was a great game with all the ingredients to become massively played and known. That's how a character becomes a legend, not if its hetero, gay, bi, blue, green, white or even black. This may contribute to publicit the game, but not necessarily to make it a good game.



Would you play a game if it will force you to be Hitler and command the troops slaughtering any kind of people (even if you were one of those people)?

(I don't want to compare these subjects, but I'm giving just a drastic example.)

Probably this game wouldn't sell so much after all, but if you could choose your side...

Equality means "right to choose", not "impose something to become accepted".



Relatively to the point "Children use those games" if there's some kind of sexual reference in the game it should be announced, but the kid will play the game even against his parent's will.

How much of you have never done anything without your parents consent?



Honestly don't think it has to be generalized, but if some games have gay characters, or even the option to toggle it on/off, if in the box of that game this is announced to avoid hurt some feelings or beliefs, that's fine to me.



Do I think its necessary? I don't, but if some of you think it would be better that way, you are free to do it.

Brandon Bell
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@Michael Joseph

What I'm saying is, there is only a small demographic that is focused on a character's sexuality. Most players enjoy a game because of the actions and mechanics of the game not because of the main character or any characters in the game. It's not an argument, I'm simply pointing out how insignificant a characters sexuality is to the game, sales, and appeal to the wide market.



Maybe promote was the wrong word to use there. What I meant by that was that there are some people out there, mostly homosexuals, that would buy a game because it has a homosexual character in it. There aren't many, but there are some. That same fact rings true with other traits that people identify with. Some people watch the Cosby show because it features a well-to-do black family. Most people watch the Cosby show because it's funny. Sure some people buy Tomb Raider in search of the mythical topless code, but most people buy the game for the same reason it's endured for so long because it's a good franchise.



Now, how that ties into the topic at hand: why would any developer waste vested time and energy in something that doesn't matter? I have two mother-in-laws. They're regular people, were they to star in a video game there wouldn't be a specific scene where they look at the screen and say "Did you know I'm gay?".



@Bauke Regnerus

"People buy Tomb Raider because Lara Croft has big oranges. People talk about the ability to have sex in The Witcher. People love Mass Effect because you can have a sexual relation with NPC's. Catherine anyone?"



I think that's false buddy. Those games are popular because of their content. They're popular because they have engaging game mechanics and in the case of Catherine, because the game is totally different from anything they've ever played before (for better or worse). Are you seriously telling me you believe people buy Mass Effect for that lame as 10 second sex scene? I'm not saying that no knuckle head has ever spent money in this fashion, I'm just saying that none of those characteristics are strong enough to influence the success of a game either way.

Joe Wreschnig
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Catherine is very interesting case because it has three short beats - the first two barely noticeable, the third (and critical one) only in one ending - about alternative sexuality. I think the developers intended it to mostly be a small mystery ending with a joke (with the non-straight aspect being the butt of the joke).



But the joke's realization is actually such an incredibly heartwrenching, assholeish thing it plays out so tragically and beautifully and unfortunately, realistically. It gave greater insight into the absurdity of traditional sexual relations than any other moment in the game.



I think it's a perfect example of why it's artistically (rather than "merely" ethically) important to get a greater variety of characters into games because even if it wasn't intentional, even if the writers had little clue what they were doing, it ends up being one of the most emotional and memorable moments of game. By including a variety of people you have the opportunity to offer more meaning, and you inherently do offer more, even if you're not trying.

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E McNeill
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I really don't think this is true. The gay elf in Dragon Age: Origins was hardly an upstanding citizen. I also recall a pretty creepy implied homosexual assault in Lawrence of Arabia, and nobody seems to consider it anything less than a classic.

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Joe Wreschnig
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Volgin and Raikov, in MGS3.



I don't believe it caused any major uproar from "political correctness nazis" whatever those are, nor from any actual gay community. Their portrayal is not without issues, but like I said in another comment - they're not just using "gayness" as a crutch to create a falsely "interesting" character. They are full characters, part of which involves being bi/gay.

David Longest
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One game I can think of that shows homosexuality is Fable III. In that game you can seduce men as a man as well as seduce women as a woman. You can also look at a lot of games in which the main character doesn't show any sexuality. Gordon Freeman in the half-life series didn't seem to have a preference, neither did the girl in Portal 2. You can also take a look at Samus in Metroid. She may be portrayed sexually but who is to say she isn't posing for another woman?



How are you 100% sure that a character is or is not LGBT? Just because somebody acts different doesn't mean they are homosexual or heterosexual. There are a lot of LGBT that are down to earth but just happen to have their preferences. So instead of accusing the world of being haters of the LGBT community, do a bit of research and maybe check with all of the LGBT out there.



Another thing to think of is when people play games, maybe they just want to make things explode or shoot people. It is also possible that they may just be happy to put colored blocks in a row to get points or unlocking that extra achievement that gets them a bigger gamerscore. Does there need to be a homosexual / heterosexual argument about that?

Alex Leighton
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I agree, there seems to be the idea out there that a character must be straight unless he's prancing around in the street wearing a rainbow colored thong. Most game characters I can think of don't really have any sexuality that is shown to the player, because it's just not part of the game, nor does it need to be.

Joe Wreschnig
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"Most game characters I can think of don't really have any sexuality that is shown to the player, because it's just not part of the game, nor does it need to be."



I am guessing you are straight. Part of the problem is that straight people are generally poor at finding things that normalize straight behavior. (Really, people who like/are X are generally poor at finding things that normalize liking/being X.)



I would never name Super Mario Bros. as a game with "sexuality that is shown to the player", except it it does, because the plot as it exists revolves around Mario saving his girlfriend. This pro-straight subtext exists - as casual one-off lines, allusions, camera angles, extra-game comments from the designers and fans - in most games, and you usually won't see it if you're straight unless you're looking for it.



But you see it if you're not straight, and it makes you feel like crap.

Ahti Belvar
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@Joe Wreshnig,

"I am guessing you are straight. Part of the problem is that straight people are generally poor at finding things that normalize straight behavior."



Using arguments based one why we are different (in my opinion) is not the way to go about getting EQUAL representation

Joe Wreschnig
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@Zachary,



Equal representation (really, I prefer "equitable" to "equal") isn't about everyone being the same. It's exactly the opposite - it's about showing diversity of sex, gender, skin color, preferences sexual and otherwise.

Robert Boyd
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I'm a little surprised no one has mentioned Kanji from Persona 4. I thought they handled his story arc exceptionally well. They also left things open to interpretation so depending on your personal beliefs on homosexuality, you can view him as being gay or straight by the end of the game.



I'd like to see more examples like that where even people who disapprove of homosexuality for religious or other reasons can still appreciate the character for who they are. And not just throwing in LGBT individuals into games to meet a quota.

Joe Wreschnig
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It's not "to meet a quota." It's about making games that are honest to their setting. If you're trying to talk about just about anything set in the modernish world involving a dozen or more people, you're going to need some characters who don't identify as straight.

James Coote
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Lighten up guys!



Gay sells in Western Europe, even amongst straight people, because it is bombastic, colourful, fun and subversive



We need a happy gay game that celebrates diversity. One where you play as a drag queen shooting feather boas around Soho or something

Gerald Belman
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Well seeing as how most games tend to avoid sexuality altogether I don't find it surprising that their are not more gay characters in video games. The three companies you named at the beginning are the main ones that contain sexuality in their games.



Btw, you can have gay marriages in the Sims and in Fable - both are not companies you mentioned. I think it is stupid to rag on the video game industry as not being as socially progressive - like they are one of the main perpetrators of gay discrimination in our society - give me a break.



Frankly I don't really care about sexuality in my video games. That's what porn is for - or get a girlfriend/boyfriend.



"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?" - Yea right - the solution to your problem is that at the end end of every video game the main character should just comes out and say " oh btw, this has nothing to do with anything - but I am a homosexual".



And I think it is self-imposed discrimination that you assume many characters are not gay - I mean how do we know the main character in Doom isn't gay - never says otherwise. How do we know chewbacca doesn't like male Wookies.

E McNeill
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"Frankly I don't really care about sexuality in my video games. That's what porn is for - or get a girlfriend/boyfriend."



This is a pathetically narrow view of either sexuality, video games, or art in general.



That said, I agree that not every game has to talk about sexuality. The article's point, I think, is that there don't seem to be *any* gay characters in most developers' narrative games, which suggests that such character traits are being avoided or passed over. There's no good reason for that. I think the article's argument is valid, though its premises are debatable.

Andrew Meade
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I think that somebody needs to be socially progressive around here, so why not us? We're already whipping boys for sensationalist media. You are right that we are not a key perpetrator of gay discrimination, but silence does speak volumes. I'd hazard a notion that it's everyones responsibility to be progressive, but that's a bit idealistic, isn't it?



Edmund Burke once said something along the lines of "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing", and I think that holds a lot of weight here. I get the sense that you're kind of saying "Not our problem, nothing to see here", and you're wrong. People need to stand up for good things. The reason I target this industry is because this is the industry we work in!



I also think you're twisting my "What If?" scenario. I never said every video game needs to end like that, I just feel that it could be refreshing.



Video games are about life, Gerald. Sex happens in life. Sex belongs in games just as much as John Everyman committing genocide with an assault rifle for funsies belongs in video games.



Finally, I pose to you a list that I made on altdevblogaday.com, where this was originally posted. It's a number of confirmed straight characters in games, that I was able to think of in about 2 minutes. This is in no way comprehensive, but is just an example of how a lot of characters are indeed confirmed. I agree that some other characters may be more ambiguous, but I am rather certain that they are the minority.



Nico Bellic



Carl “C.J.” Johnson



Alan Wake



Super Meat Boy



Every Major Warcraft Character (Arthas, Thrall, Jaina,

Sylvannas, Varian, and MANY more)



John Marston



Dom Santiago



Ezio Auditore



Altair



Lara Croft



Nathan Drake



Marcus Fenix



Harry Mason



Sam Fisher



Ethan Mars



Adam Jensen



Cole MacGrath



Isaac Clark



Yuna

Ahti Belvar
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Personally @Andrew, i think its offensive that (from my point of view anyway) you seem to be suggesting that its wrong for people to simply not have an opinion about the subject.

There was a time when progressive meant treating everyone equal. To me, equality is not making a deal about one case or the other, being tolerant of each other. But demanding equality in every single field in every single thing is like two children arguing because one child got 2 mm more cake in their slice than the other. Its childish and petty.



Also, that list that you thought up in 2 minutes or somit, personally, as i have said in my previous comment, i niether knew or cared about their sexuality. I mean why the hell would i care what Marcus prefers? I won't use examples because of obvious spoilers, but suffice it to say there is other information that is SO MUCH more prevalant Super meat boy, 98% of the game is jumping off walls, dodging circular saw blades, tbh i wouldn't notice or care if the girlfriend had been replaced with a frikken cookie.



Also while i'm here @E McNeill who the hell are you to tell someone that they are wrong or close minded for not looking in a game for the same thing you look for?

Alan Rimkeit
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" How do we know chewbacca doesn't like male Wookies."



Uh, because Chewie has a son with his wife. His son is Lumpawaroo, Yes, I am a serious Star Wars geek.



http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Lumpawaroo

Gerald Belman
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Maybe Chewbacca is bisexual.

Luis Blondet
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Can you name three * characters in popular video games that were NOT made by BioWare, Bethesda, or Rockstar?



* = Homosexual, Black, Asian, Hispanic, Aboriginal, Dwarf, Handicapped, etc, etc

Shava Nerad
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There is a self gating market here. I was a young software engineer in the late 70s, early 80s when that was a nearly all boys' club. Women don't like computers, don't you know that? Don't you know women will never understand computers, so you never have to have a program that does stuff that women do.



Oh, but you mean women might do things that men do? Nah.



Well, guys, you are ass-uming all the same crap again. Admittedly, gay men and lesbians are only theoretically about 10% of the population. Bisexuals, especially if you look at the experimenters in the younger, urban population that has a lot of emerging gamers? A lot of experimentation, from my observations here in the Boston area, but then, this is Boston. Then, you have a lot of polls showing a majority of our market demographic - which is not solely testosterone ruled and macho young men (where have y'all been for the past seven or so years? Get thee to a marketing department!) that is just fine with same sex relationships done tastefully. Yes, there will always be a vocal minority of homophobes, dickwolves, trolls, girl-splatter freaks, racist turds, and SWG vets who will not shut up on gaming forums (that last would be me, fwiw), but that doesn't mean we project our market against their scree.



Because, as somebody said above, this is a business. And it's not about homophobic sweaty trogs, any more than the military can afford to be. The march of time has moved on gentlemen; hear the drum.

Cordero W
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We need more genderless protagonists. Like NiGHTS.

James Youngman
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I can name 3: Zangief and Eagle from the Street Fighter series and Venom from the Guilty Gear series. The larger point still stands though; there's no real reason for there to not be more non-heterosexual characters in games. I'm not convinced that such games won't sell. They probably won't sell to everyone, but no game does. It's pretty easy to see which way history is going on the treatment of non-heterosexuals in society; there's no harm in the game industry trying to get out in front of these changes.

Terry Matthes
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"I can name 3: Zangief and Eagle from the Street Fighter series and Venom from the Guilty Gear series."



Zangief is not a gay character. He has a heterosexual ending in Capcom Fighting Jam where he dreams of being in a hot tub with women. People keep saying that Capcom released an official statements of sorts saying he was, but no one can ever find the press release. I don't care if he is, but that's just not the case.

Luis Blondet
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Oh, you mean this one?



http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_-lKiQNdfEZo/TOar_G1RZuI/AAAAAAAABE8/HYD
CI6FU7Mo/s400/zangief-ssf2t-end.gif

Joe Wreschnig
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It would've been much nicer to title this "Lot of Awful Heterosexuals Around Here" and let it be a self-fulfilling prophecy via the comments.



(Thanks for writing this.)



(Also, to answer the question - I can name three in one game, if you're just using "gay" as shorthand to mean any kind of non-straight relations: Nier. One party member is gay; another is intersexed identifying as female; and the protagonist, Nier, was gay-for-pay when younger to earn money to take care of his sister.)

Douglas Gregory
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As a gay gamer, I find I'm in the habit of reading a homosexual subtext into the stories of most protagonists I play - at least in games where chasing skirts isn't one of the core goals or mechanics. ;)



This has gotten much easier as games moved beyond the early side-scroller games (when it seemed like every plot was about the male lead's quest to save his girlfriend) and the enigmatic, silent, or blank-slate protagonist became more popular. That doesn't necessarily mean all Gordon Freemans, though. Game writers have gotten better over time at making interesting characters that still have room left over for players to fill in the blanks.



So, a character doesn't have to be explicitly gay (or [insert non-visible personality trait here]) in the story for a player to find a reflection of their identity in him or her.



If the market isn't ready for an out gay lead (based on box office results, I'm actually optimistic), more characters who can be read multiple ways may be a good intermediate step.

Evan Combs
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I don't think reading a character multiple ways should just be an intermediate step, instead it should be the goal. If it isn't important to the story for the character to be hetero or homo then the character should be as neutral as possible so the player can put their own preference onto the character.

Evan Combs
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I think the biggest reason why you don't see it more often is because in most cases the sexual preference of the characters just don't really matter to the game. It isn't like a Bioware game where you can choose to have a relationship. In most games it just doesn't matter. When that is the case there are three things that are most likely to happen the developer just defaults to the character being heterosexual, it is never comes up in the game, and/or you just assume the character is heterosexual because the subject is never covered.



How do we know the sexuality of the characters in Borderlands? We don't because the subject is never brought up. They could all just as easily be homosexual as heterosexual.



I find in games where sexuality does actually matter, homosexuality tends to be represented quite often.

Joe Wreschnig
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"How do we know the sexuality of the characters in Borderlands? We don't because the subject is never brought up."



Bullshit! There's an entire expansion about sexuality. And in fact one of the characters is gay, and another bisexual.



Relationships are brought up quite a bit - because it's the kind of people talk about - and the majority of people are only mentioned as straight. For example, T.K. Baha - did you notice he was straight? No? See my other comment about how straight people don't notice straight people when they make the claims like you did.



(Borderlands has a much bigger problem which is that the population is absolutely dominated by men.)

Evan Combs
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I wasn't aware there was an expansion that dealt with those issues, but that expansion does help to prove my last point.

Heitor Paola
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To add to the list of games that deal with homosexuality, there's an adventure game that I learned about while reading Replay called The Orion Conspiracy. I bought a copy on ebay but haven't played it yet, so I can't really say much about how it treats the subject, but it tells the story of a father that goes to a space station where his son was studying, but was recently killed. As you investigate the circumstances, you learn that you son was in a relationship with another man and was constantly attacked because of this. It seems that the story goes from there to an alien invasion or something, but it's still impressive that such as subject was a theme in a game released in 1995. If it sparkles any interest, I believe there are some copies being sold on ebay (it was not in GoG last time I checked).



As a side note, a company that I believe could really tackle this subject is Irrational. They already are pretty could at inserting politics in their games in a masterful way. I bet they could apply this to talk about homosexuality, persecution and such.

Lennard Feddersen
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Interesting to read that some folks are arguing that this is a business decision. From my perspective as an indie, discovery is probably the largest factor affecting my business - if I was smart I'd probably drop everything right now and do a free, LGBT trending/friendly social MMO that works well with Facebook and mobile.



Omar Little rocks, gonna have to queue up all of The Wire again at some point.

Maria Jayne
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I think there is a bigger issue that needs to be hammered out primarily in the US development side of games where violence is still more acceptable than sexuality. Until games can show they can handle nudity as well as they handle gibbing bits off people I can't ever see the concept progressing to a gay protagonist in the US market.



Let's face it, Bioware is held up as a shining example of story telling but their rommance plots and cutscenes are pretty poor and wooden to behold, with little class or subtelty. Quantic Dream, CD Projekt Red and Black Isle could handle mature content without turning it into giggly school boy stuff but they don't have the funding or market value to create the diversity Bioware shoots for. Bioware still needs to get over the "lol you can bang your companions" mentality it seems to have.



The industry needs to mature its adult sexual and rommantic content before it can hope to tackle main protagonists as being anything other than mainstream. Video games have come a long way in the last 7-8 years but we are only just starting to have our hobby and profession recognised as being for adults aswell as children so we aren't there yet.

Igor Chuprov
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First off, some of the reasoning by people opposed to homosexual characters in games - simply amphigoric.



Why can't I play a game where the option is available?

Why can't games have gay characters that are not defined by stupid stereotypes?



I don't mind if the main character is not gay in any way, but why not include side characters?

Though I also don't think it should be enforced in all games. And I agree, that developers need to take more risks with it. I think it was done fairly well in Dragon Age 2. I also enjoyed Kanji's story in Persona 4. Personally I would like more like this, more options.



I read how players were complaining about too much "gay" in Fable 3 - is it so hard NOT to do those actions with male characters?? I think its great that those options are in the game - its up to you as the player to choose how you want to play your character.



And a question to the heterosexual players - if you play a female lead character, will you have the same "issues" if you play her as a lesbian?

Michael Ball
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I have absolutely no issue with gay characters in video games. What I DO have issue with is developers inserting gay characters in a way that screams "HEY LOOK GUYS, WE HAVE A GAY CHARACTER IN OUR GAME! WE'RE SO COOL, AMIRITE?" Unfortunately, most gay game characters fall into the latter category.



When I began reading the comments, I was positively THRILLED that the first character mentioned was Fiona from The Longest Journey. Not only is it one of my favorite video games of all time, but it's also a key example of a game that did LGBT right; it's simply part of the character's personality, not flaunted or paraded like some sort of industry-changing revelation.

Amir Sharar
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It's an interesting question, but makes me wonder another thing, are there many characters out there with an implied sexual orientation?



Mario, yes.

Master Chief, unknown.



I think of some of my favourite games and I can't really recall if many had any defined orientation. Now, I haven't played through some of these series, but I believe Marcus Fenix, Nathan Hale, heck even Ryu from SF, didn't have explicit mentions of their orientation. Even characters with implied children (Sam Fischer)...those children could be adopted for what we know.



Now, the point I'm making is not necessarily that their orientation was ambiguous, but rather than for many of these characters it doesn't seem to be relevant to the story we are told. Children and significant others are used as plot points but aren't really the focus of stories. There aren't many games about "love" out there.



Secondly, I think my gay friends would argue that it's more than just sexual orientation but the capacity to love and adore a person on a deeper level than anyone else, and that could be the same sex or not. We don't see many games that speak to us about love in general, whether it be between two of the same sex or not. We are starting to see some, and yes, they seem to involve hetero relationships...so this point could be moot.

Joe Wreschnig
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Master Chief is asexual, as a result of the Spartan experiment. Marcus is romantically involved with Anya. Hale was romantically linked with his female psychologist in Project Abraham. Sam Fischer's daughter comes from a marriage to a woman. I'll give you Ryu, although in the non-canon White Wolf Street Fighter RPG he was attracted to Chun-Li (and yes, I had to look that one up).



So of the six "unknown" characters you've listed, four are potrayed in male/female relationships exclusively, one was kidnapped as a child and more or less forced into asexuality, and one is actually unknown. (Though I bet if you asked Ono if Ryu was gay, you'd get a flat-out "No.")



Straight sexuality is everywhere in games, and it's so dominant you're totally blind to it.



"Children and significant others are used as plot points but aren't really the focus of stories. "



All the more reason there's no excuse for not having non-straight characters. If being straight was actually somehow essential to the game, then it might be artistically justifiable. But it's not - it's just discriminatory.

Amir Sharar
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Thanks Joe, now that you mention some of the character backgrounds it's all coming back to me. I suppose it goes to show how much of it is "background fluff" and yes, could be easily replaced with any other sort of relationship, but as I'll describe later that may not be something the designer wants.



I'd argue that many like myself are simply blind to any relationships (whatever orientation it may be) in games in general.



In regards to minor plot points involving same-sex relationships are concerned there could be discrimination involved as you mention, or it could simply be what the designer wants to create. As I mentioned some plot points that aren't meant to be a big focus of the story may want to be kept in the background so that they aren't distracting.



We didn't see or hear much of Cole Phelp's wife and kids in L.A. Noire throughout most of the game, probably because the designer would have liked most of the user's attention focused on the cases. Had the wife been from say, Turkmenistan, it would have generated more questions or intrigue that would have gone unanswered. The same applies if he was in a same-sex relationship. New ideas and concepts will always bring about questions. Is it unfortunate that such concepts that I mentioned are considered "new"? That is another but highly related topic.

Joe Wreschnig
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LA Noire is set in 1947. That's its context. If Cole had a Muslim or ex-Soviet wife, that would indeed have required some explanation. Similarly, if he had a male domestic partner, that would too. It doesn't require a *lot* of explanation, but it wouldn't pass congruently without at least a few lines of commentary somewhere in the game.



Mario, on the other hand, takes place in a world where you eat a mushroom and get twice as big, then stomp on giant roaming chestnuts. In that world, a dude kissing another dude would require minimal explanation.



Showing alternative relationships that are not "a big focus of the story" is half the point. When you don't do this - don't acknowledge the existence of non-straight relationships at all - it's called erasure, and it's a form of discrimination. It affirms the hostility in the status quo and continues telling people that non-straight members of society "just aren't right."



(The other half is hey, maybe there should be at least one or two games out of the hundreds or thousands released that show a romantically active lead that does have a homosexual or bisexual or transsexual protagonist - an actually homosexual protagonist, not a world in which everyone is protagonistsexual, like Fable/Skyrim.)

Ramon Carroll
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I have many gay, lesbian, and homosexual friends, so I can understand the concern, as most of them play the same games that I play.



I'm sure my 2 cents will be nothing more than a drop in the ocean of posts that already exist here, but I'll go ahead anyway. The fact is that the AAA industry will only release games that will appeal to a mass audience, because its a risky business as it is. However, popular media (including television shows, movies, books, and video games) have slowly started to introduce such ideas into their mediums. I think the relative slowness is actually appropriate, because its going to take considerable time for it to become the norm. As the world continues to open up to the idea, we should expect to see much more of it. Until then, we should be happy when well-written LGBT characters like Zevran (DA:O - videogame) and Omar Little (The Wire-TV show) surface in our media. The key here is that their sexual orientation should always be seen as incidental, not the main thrust of their character. In other words, they should just "happen" to be homosexual, not always flaunt it or talk about it. Otherwise, they feel just as shallow as the characters from the Expendables. We should not only ask for homosexual characters. We should ask for well-written ones.



Just be patient, friends. Its not going to happen tomorrow, but its happening.

Ken Kinnison
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@Amir- pointless trivia- Marcus and Anya have a pretty solid connection, although you could choose to see it as somewhat ambiguous. He's got a helluva Bromance with Dom, but he clearly refers to him as his brother in the third. The master chief is somewhat explained in the books (although that's not 'canon' or whatever to some people) in that the spartans are pretty sexually neutral with some exceptions. I got nothin on Ryu ;).



A couple of thoughts in a busy topic- which 'stereotypes' are fair game? I haven't known too many openly LGBT, but those I do know often at least loosely follow stereotypes. Gay Tony may be an exaggeration, but how much do you tone it down before it actually loses effectiveness? In the end the character should fit the story, it would probably not sit well with ANYONE with hardened space marines- oh and one ends up coming across as richard simmons on crack.



A side example- Barret from FF7 has been critiscized for being some 'black stereotype, but I don't think people would buy it if he spoke with a midwestern accent and talked about raising corn back home' while shooting shinra soldiers. It's because of this critique and some conference sessions I've been to, I wonder if I'm screwed no matter what I do- the character will either be X or not X enough.



Lastly- is it... at all possible that games could support niche markets with the billions a year spend on games? Just sayin... if you're worried about losing the percent of gamer dollars that just can't handle it while securing the percent of gamers that would dig it... we have a very f***ed up industry.

Joe Wreschnig
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(Disclaimer: I am white.)



The reason Barret gets criticized isn't because he is a per se necessarily terrible portrayal of a black person, but because he is the *only* black character in FF, he ends up standing for all black people.



A black person with a gun who speaks as Barret does is not per se problematic. Giving the *only* black person in your game (and one of a tiny, tiny number in your entire series) a gun for an arm tells me you thought of the gun arm first and that led you, via a subtextually racist train of thought, to make the character black.

Doug Fresh
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I think the posters have proven the numerical theory wrong. There really are quite a few instances of homosexuality within the video game genre.



In theory, the ratio of homosexuality in real life may not actually vary all that much from the ratio of homosexuality in video games.



*shrug*



I'd guess it's a very hard line to walk, simply "including" a homosexual character in a game versus creating some sort of political statement. Unfortunately, most controversies IN GENERAL aren't explored in great depth within our medium.



Abortion, racism, homosexuality, recent wars, religion, and politics... NONE are discussed in depth in our business, and never will be by the major video gamer publishers (who all happen to be publically owned entities).

Enrique Hernandez
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I couldn't tell you about many homosexual characters in video games because I don't even know the sexual preferences of most characters in video games.



Is Mario gay? maybe, I don't know, I haven't asked him.

And why should I or anyone care?



I bet you can't make a huge list of heterosexual characters either.

And by that I mean characters who have openly stated that they like women and their sexual preference is heterosexual.

Unless it's a game with sexual content, I don't recall my characters stating their sexual preference, for all I know, 90% or more of the video characters could be gay.

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Michael Joseph
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Matt Johnston
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It never really occurred to me that Lara Croft was heterosexual.



I don't "play out" the sexual activities of my protagonists when I'm playing a game. The characters in L4D might be gay or straight but really, in the face of zombie apocalypse, who cares. And if Francis is gay and only he and Zoey survive, is he not going to "procreate" because he doesn't fancy her? Either way - this is stuff which is beyond the scope of the game. There's zombies!



We assume Mario is not gay because he saves the Princess. We assume that. We assume that Elliot Salem and Tyson Rios are not in a consensual civil partnership. That assumption is where the sexual prejudice starts and it's an individual one, not an industry one. If you don't see gay characters, it's probably because you're looking for a stereotype. They could all be gay, none of them could be gay - why does it have to be stated (unless you're projecting something on to them).



And yes, why doesn't Nathan Drake just admit he's a big poof?

Michael Joseph
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Michael Joseph
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Michael Joseph
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Michael Joseph
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Joe Wreschnig
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Above, from Aleksander:



"Why is it that homosexuals still pick up and play games with [exclusively] obvious heterosexual mature content?"



Maybe it's time we stop doing this, and see how much the "the market is an appropriate substitute for morality" people like that.

Dave McKee
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When reading articles of this sort, I often think to myself "why does it matter?" I suppose if the story calls for it then fine, but for people to get upset or wonder why other games don't have it just seems kind of odd to me. You can say the same for other things. "Why aren't any black people in this game? Why aren't any women in that game?" But I still ask, why does it matter? Will this make the game more fun? Will it make the gameplay experience that much more involved?



As I stated, if it works with the story then fine, but if things like this are just tact on to make everyone happy, it might as well be left out.



Oh and by the way, in Fable II, III, and TES Skyrim you can marry who you choose, regardless of gender or race. So there ya go. (Might be in Fable 1 as well but never played that.)

Jason Harris
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wow... Andrew, my friend, you did it again... LOL FLAME WARE INC! Look everyone, I know a lot of people are concerned about how this will effect society and about their conservative viewpoints. I myself am HIGHLY conservative, but you cannot continue to suppress the others around you just because you do not like their life choices. Just like smoking, if you do not like LGBT people, then don't go into the rooms where they do their business. But, at the same time, do not try to oppress them as society is doing to smokers now. LGBT people are still people, and productive members of society. For all the Christians, well, my brothers and sisters, remember the parable about hiding your light. Be graceful and holy, not angry and damning.

Oh, and as for the people who are worried that this will coerce their child into being LGBT, I grew up with a LOT of LGBT people and never knew it until I was over 18. Why? Because my parents taught me to look at someone's heart and character, not their bodies or clothes, etc. Teach your children what really matters by leading by example, and you will not have to worry about someone outside influencing them. No drugs, no idiocy, and no not being untrue to themselves. Of course, if they ARE LGBT, just accept it, they are still your kids.

Joel Nystrom
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Da Vinci was gay in AC2. At least it was heavily implied. I thought it was a nice touch.

Nathaniel Grundy
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Wow, this is a politically charged issue! I've attempted to read through the comments, but I can only take so much text before I start to get headaches. Here's my take on the issue:



While we can talk all we want about the majority of the market being hetero males, the fact is that the homo guys and girls play games too, and they're not being represented properly in-game. I should know - I'm bi myself. As Andrew Meade said, the market's really not ready for an openly gay lead character - at least not one that flaunts it shamelessly. I think that would turn ME off. However, would it be so bad to make, say, more openly gay characters in the supporting cast? We need baby steps here, because as we all know, hetero males are just big babies. (kidding, don't flame.)

JaZois theArtist
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Easy fix here for the LGBT...Make your game, featuring whoever you'd like as the lead character!



There's a lot of talk about how big an instrument the LGBT community is in gaming, but really, I'm not buying it. Obviously my opinion is neither here nor there, it's all conjecture. I am willing to bet tho, that any company or group of individuals that undertook such a topic would find a very small, niche market at best which wouldnt sustain even one salary.



It seems there's alot of "We're here!!!" sentiments in the comments, about all of our favorite designers being this or that. If that is the case, why can't they start implementing such character traits into their designs? The reason why, is because the average gamer isn't interested in such characters.



The hero's journey isn't about sexuality, but you can bet that if you start showing homoerotic behaviour and mannerisms, game sales will take dramatic slides. Not because it's right or wrong, because it's a subject matter that currently has no place in games. Unless a game was created specifically to tackle the issues and ideas about the subject, or drives the story, it is simply the usual: making a statement because you can, not because you have something important to say.



Like I said, make a game, and convince gamers they need to have this material in there, to drive the game, and the reception should be open, and possibly ground breaking. Take one of todays popular games, and put in gayness because you think the industry needs more it, with no return for the player (besides forcing your opinion upon them) and see how that all works out for you.



Far too many people just like to hear themselves talk...have something important and thoughtful to say and it may open new conversations. :)

Ryan Creighton
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Tingle is gayer than a rainbow moustache.

Ryan Creighton
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Birdo from Super Mario Bros. 2 is a post-op transsexual - a male bird who lays eggs. (Look it up.)



Ditto the characters in the licensed Barnyard video games, who sound like men, but who have udders.



Guybrush Threepwood dresses in drag in The Secret of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge.



Samus Aran could be considered a cross-dresser (her "reveal" in the first game came as a surprise to most gamers).



Any licensed Harry Potter game that includes Dumbledore has him a gay character.



Those are the ones i can think of off the top of my head. Wikipedia maintains a list:



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_LGBT_characters_in_video_gam
es



But i'm with a few of the other commenters: if being LGBT is largely defined by the ways in which you identify your own sex and are physically intimate with or act romantically toward others, then since video games generally lack depictions of intimacy, romance, and genitalia, it stands to reason that there aren't a lot of explicitly LGBT characters in games. Heck - they could ALL be gay, for all we know ... just as they could all be poor, could all be Hindu, could all be right-handed. Those types of qualities haven't factored into what video games have been ABOUT, historically.



Hey - is that yellow dots-eating disc queer? i don't care, frankly. My high score is more important to me than discovering how Pac Man spends his Saturday evenings.

Jonathan Jennings
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my personal issue with any topic such as this comes down to the basic question would you be making this character a minority / LBGT for the sake of improving the game itself or just because you want to be edgy and have an LBGT character ? personally I feel like placing a minority lead just for the sake of having one will be self destructive and while LBGt groups will praise your decisin to go against the gran gamers who have no political ambitions ill be turned off and a thinly veiled attempt to promote you political ideology will be seen .





That's how I feel about introducing people into any position or situation. I do not believe in affirmative action I believe in giving the position to the best candidate regardless of race, sex, religion, ethics,etc. placing an individual in a specific position just to meet a quota or appear progressive seems like you are overlooking the best candidate due to prejudices o a feeble attempt to appear " open-minded" ..



I think games like mass effect are the best games to do it, in them the player is given a choice to pursue relationships with whichever characters they like . If that is a same-sex or heterosexual relationship it is to the players discretion . I just feel any situation where players are made to play with a character whose greatest personality trait is there homosexuality is doomed to be ill-recived ..



CJ from GTA: san andreas actually fit in his universe and made the beginning of san andreas " more realistic" if I can say that but over the course of the game the most distinguishing characteristic about cj wwas the fact he was black. by the end of the game I was FARRRR more entertained by every other character besides CJ . while you can craft a LBGT character this by no means ensures this character will be at all interesting beyond the initial shock and I feel like that is the greatest disservice to the LBGT community you can make a shallow character with little to define themself other than their own sexuality,

Joe Wreschnig
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"I think games like mass effect are the best games to do it"



Except Mass Effect refused to let you be a gay male. It's probably the worst game to use as an example because it tackles sex so head-on and yet fails both in letting you be a gay man, and in addressing any of the interesting aspects of a genderless alien species (who just happen to look like an idealized human female).

Charles Geringer
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I instantly thought on four:



Eagle and poison from Capcom, and the homosexual pair of bosses from godhand.

Andrew Cothill
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I know this sounds like an almost obtuse comment given the nature of the argunent buuuuuuut:

Does it bother anyone else that we argue bitterly and at length about how we as humans show affection and love for one another; whereas a great deal of game content involves simulated murder and a load of violence and we don't seem to bat an eyelid at that?

Luis de-Leon
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Ok, let me start by saying that I dont hate gay people. Personally I dont aprove of some issues regarding homosexualism, but I have no problem with people being gay. I mean, hey! Who am I to judge! Right? With that being said I must say that I think that the main reason why we dont see many gay characters is because game developers are just not thinking about it. At the end of the day sexuality its not that big of an issue with most games now a days. If you think about it there a lot of game characters that you assume that are straight but they never told you they were. Last time I check Cpt. Price never told me in the game that he was straight, I just assume away. But for all I now he might be gay. So, yeah! In my humble opinion, its not that were homophobes, its just that we are not thinking about the sexual preferences of character... were just thinking of how is that character work and behave in the game.

Also, on a side not, you cant make Nate gay. You kill the franchise. The uncharted universe is based on the idea of Nate being the typical alpha male rogue adventurer, and Im afraid that that guy always get the girl at the end of the day. If you make him gay just for the sake of having a gay character or some kind of "depth" in you game, then you are killing an enjoyable experience for a lot of people. You are damaging your franchise just to get a cheap pop, and you just dont do that. Again, not saying that its bad to be gay, I'm saying that base on the foundations of the Uncharted franchise a gay Nate would do more damage than good to that franchise in particular.

Anna Tito
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Great article and thank you for raising an important issue .... I think I will just have to leave it at that as I am currently feeling very saddened by many of responses I have read here today.

Patrick Doran
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This article made me laugh because it's so wrong. Where are the homosexual characters? Where are they NOT? You mentioned Modern Warfare as needing homosexuals...I'm sorry but I didn't notice any graphic heterosexual fornication in that game, it's as though the game was...about something other than sexuality...



Here's a quick list of why this issue is bogus:



- Sonic the Hedgehog has no penis

- Megaman also has no penis

- There are no women in Counterstrike, just man on man action (not that you'd know, you only have hands, not a body)

- Tetris completely forgot to include any penises or vaginas anywhere

- WoW never implemented a "breeding" or "pregnancy" quest

etc etc etc



The only couple of games that seem to be intentionally hetero recently would be Duke Nukem Forever (although he could just be bisexual) and I was about to say Skyrim, but then I googled Skyrim gay marriage...and well turns out you can gay marry in Skyrim. I think a couple of people have bought Skyrim right? Like just a few right?



Maybe games already ARE gay friendly and you just assumed otherwise. Or it could just be that games aren't very sexual in America. Japan tends to do more of the dating simulations and dating RPG's. Shame on Japan for Catherine being hetero-only? Oh wait they made Cho Aniki..

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Heather N
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The problem isn't simply that there aren't a lot of explicitly homosexual characters in games. The issue is that where there are characters, they are behave in hetero-normative ways. It is perhaps even more frustrating when games are unintentionally heterosexual. It suggests that the people making the game were unaware of the cultural norms that were informing their decisions. You seem to think that games are only heterosexual if they are explicitly showing a sexual relationship between a man and a woman. This is incorrect. Heterosexuality is everywhere; you just don't notice it.



You mentioned WoW as not needing homosexual characters because it doesn't depict any 'graphic heterosexual fornication.' It does, however, tell a hell of a lot of heterosexual stories. Now I'm not saying WoW needs a gay relationship. I am, however, saying that it is a game with exclusively heterosexual content.



Another way to look at it is this, how do you know Sonic is male? He has no genitalia, so how do you know? The answer is that you know he is male from a variety of secondary characteristics that you interpret to mean 'male' based on your cultural norms. He is blue, wearing tennis shoes, has no feminine accessories, and has a flat chest. So the same can be said of games that have subtly included heterosexuality. Mario is straight, but he never strips off and has sex with Peach. So how do you know he's straight? Again the answer is that you infer his sexuality based on a number of culturally informed characteristics. So just because a game doesn't have graphic sex in it, doesn't mean it doesn't include sexuality.

Kris Ligman
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A reminder to our commenters: stay respectful and avoid making hurtful remarks. We CAN nuke you.

Joe Wreschnig
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Just an observation - while I appreciate deleting those comments, it makes a lot of posts - particularly Michael Joseph's and Dan Eisenhower's - look absurd or misdirected. For large-scale deletions like this, forum software really needs to leave behind a "comment deleted" placeholder.

Kris Graft
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Hey everyone,



If you haven't noticed, the number of comments have thinned out. There has been some good discussion, but also a lot of mean-spirited (and sometimes totally ignorant) things being said. So, we had to take care of that. (Note: when a comment gets deleted, all replies to the comment are automatically removed by our system as well.) Let's just keep things respectful...that's a pretty simple request.



http://www.gamasutra.com/static2/comment_guidelines.html

Andrew Meade
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Thanks for keeping things on topic, Kris!

Austin Breed
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Great article. I've often considered why the main characters of games I've worked on are always young, white, straight males. My natural reaction is to say that I tend to create main characters that I can relate to. I often compare the development of video games to film, and as the medium grows I think we will end up seeing a wider variety of characters.

Fedor Golubev
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There is a major problem with gay characters that is not evident until you try to write one, which makes it very hard for it to be done tastefully without feeling like you are having a 2011 political correctness sitdown between your futuristic gunfights.



How will the player know that the character is gay?



How do you know there aren't countless gay characters in existing games who simply didn't have time to sit you down and explain their sex life? Is it really your business to know if they're gay? How can this be done tastefully in a way relevant to the story when the character has to deliberately communicate that they are gay?



I don't know if this hurts or helps my argument, but my favorite gay game character would be Vincente de Santa from Red Dead Redemption, he was a glorious village-burning murderous asshole who happened to be gay in a believable way in the context of his character. This is the direct opposite of the unfun PSA sitdown that is rumored to make up Mass Effect 3's gay-centric chapter/mission.



More about Bioware's controversial handling of homosexuality here

http://gaygamer.net/2011/03/not_all_gay_gamers_think_alike.html

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/03/dragon-age-2s-gay-char
acter-offends-just-about-everyone.ars



And of course aside from that games are about fun, usually very politically-incorrect fun. No one wants to feel like they're going through GLAAD-sanctioned sensitivity training and practicing pseudonyms anymore than they want to be told to obey traffic rules and the police in Grand Theft Auto. I think the political baggage should definitely not follow gays into games.



I'm not totally disagreeing, in a way I'm repeating alot of what Andrew Meade already said, just saying it's more complicated than racial diversity, which is easier to do naturally. With homosexuality you also have a political balancing act between political correctness and fun, and between tastefulness and obnoxiousness. The last person I expect to do a gay character right is a LGBT activist.



Also I can't see a gold-craving murder machine like Drake being too bothered over sexual confusion or acceptance.

Jeffrey Verba
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1) Thank you to Gama for thinning out this blog's comments. While I agree that Freedom of Speech is an important issue, there is a time and a place for everything; this is not the place for hurtful/inflammatory/ignorant comments. This blog was seemingly intended to improve general LGBT awareness, and some of the comments took it a bit past that.



2) I personally applaud Andrew for having the internal fortitude to call it like he sees it; he's right, there is a lack of support towards this general demographic of people within games. This is an issue within and of itself that is an entirely different conversation, and so I will leave it to another conversation on another day.



3) While I agree that LGBT deserves the full support of the game industry, since it is largely not concerned with what is considered "politically correct" (look at any major news headline from the past 20 years that involved games and you will see what I mean), I personally don't think that arbitrarily adding LGBT characters to games is the answer. That movement already has a significant amount of rally points (individuals supporting the cause), and at this point making game characters part of that movement would not, in my opinion, particularly help the cause. Does anyone care that Dumbledore was gay? Did the fact that he was outed really change anything after the fact?



4) I think the best option for the game industry to TRULY support this cause would be to give gamers a chance to actually explore options in front of them; this is the one aspect of games that differentiate it from other mediums (books/movies/ect.). By allowing players to freely explore a series of options in front of them, without the constraints of modern society's views, to see how much everyone is truly alike. As Shakespeare told us back in the 1500-1600's, "love is blind." To me this means that love is genderless (a father loving a son is not considered taboo afterall), and that I should applaud anyone who can truly find it; even if this means in a "nonconventional" way. This would allow anyone confused about their personal sexuality to freely explore options available without the need for family/friends/society getting involved, which to me seems like a much healthier way to comprehend the challenges with these potential issues than is currently available within mainstream society today. I look forward to more games that embrace this idea (like Bioware's Dragon Age did) so that a TRUE understanding may one day be reached for individuals involved. If saying that I loved and connected with Zevran for who he was and how he acted is wrong, then I don't want to be right.

Gil Salvado
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I will intentionally keep this short. You need a really good story writer and animators to perform believable characters that are non-heterosexual to make users accept, understand and finally appreciate them the way they are. Forcing those characters will result in the stereotypes and those will not do us any good.



Personally, I would start to make no more homosexual or bisexual villains. Of course it gives them an edge, but the most people won't be able to differentiate. Take Zelda Skyward Sword's antagonist for example - I haven't played the game yet and won't for a long time - but hell, does he look and act gay. I'm ok with that, but I don't know if a teenager of the target group will even understand that he's ain't evil because he's gay-looking. I rather doubt it. After all, they probably won't be any deep conversation/discussion for them to understand it within the game. And their parents won't discuss it at lunch either.

Of course, this goes for the masses. The fact of gay parents and siblings is excluded from this prejudice.

J Benjamin Hollman
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It seems as if there are a few central measurements that we're assigning to the representation of LGBT characters in our games:



Quality, quantity, and variety.



Quality is largely tied to the state of writing in general, which in games is pretty terrible all around. When all of the characters in your game are vapid, one-dimensional cliches, any minorities will inevitably be affected disproportionately. As more studios come to embrace talented writers from outside the industry, I think we'll see much more nuance and consideration given to characters and their relationships, which will prove to be a great boon to anyone who feels underrepresented or stereotyped in media.



As for quantity, I think this depends on a change in our internal culture at large. As long as the marketing dollars are allocated mostly to a few select genres (manshooters, hardcore RPGs), no arbitrary quota will solve the problem. This is not because LGBTs in particular don't enjoy violent games just as much as straight folk, but because just about every demographic that isn't adolescent males doesn't enjoy violent games just as much as adolescent males. Unfortunately there's no easier solution to this than good ol' organized grassroots activism. Major publishers have nothing to gain from excluding or offending any group of potential customers, so it's up to the customers to inform them that they have something to lose. Letters, emails, and especially petitions will help to educate content producers about the potential sales that they're missing out on. Once we convince the industry to pursue diversity in game design itself, this problem should take care of itself as it has in almost every other medium.



The final issue, the one which requires the least in terms of preconditions, but which wasn't really addressed in this article, and ironically, has been one of the most bitterly argued points in the comments thread, is variety. There is definitely a "wrong" way to portray queer characters in games, but that doesn't mean that there is necessarily a "right" way. Just as people in real life identify themselves with their sexuality to varying degrees and in different ways, so it ought to be in a fictional world. Is it better to have in your game characters who, as Andrew puts it, "just happen to lead alternate lifestyles", or flamboyant, proud-to-be-queers who joke about their sexual preference at any given chance? The answer is, neither and both! It's about whatever fits both the tone of the story and the design of the game. What also matters is that the characters are not written with the intent of reducing them to harmful stereotypes, and that there can be an open discussion about them after the fact without fear or shame. Studios like BioWare deserve a round of applause in this regard. They've stumbled just as often as they've succeeded, but when they do create an offensive character, the writers reach out and respond to the concerns of the community, and try to figure out why they hurt people. This couldn't happen without variety! Wherever there is experimentation, progress follows.



Hope this helps!

Joe Wreschnig
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I don't think the issues are as separate as you describe them.



For example, I don't think you can have quality writing without more diversity. No story in which everyone is flat and same-y has high-quality writing (unless the story itself is something about how all the characters are flat and same-y).



Similarly, simply adding quantity can greatly increase quality, like the vignette I mentioned in Catherine above. And adding quantity again necessarily increases variety, as you say.



I definitely think we need all three things you've outlined, but I don't think it's possible to get any one without the other two.

Steven An
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I would guess that it's really difficult to write a gay character as a lead. If you just had them gay and didn't really explore it, that could come across as tacky - and it would be! I'm no writer, but I'm guessing it ain't easy to write something believable and respectable like Brokeback Mountain. And given how story-telling in games is a far less understood craft, it just makes things more difficult.



So I think it'll happen eventually. There is an indie game - the name escapes me right now - about growing up gay. So it'll happen.

Ujn Hunter
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Why does this matter in most games? Are the characters having sex in the games? If not... what's the difference? Why can't Drake already be gay? Do you want more "stereotypical" gay people in games, is that the issue? What would you need to make a game character homosexual? I think these are all questions you should answer first before just shoehorning gay characters into games.

Buck Hammerstein
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is this about validation?



i remember a while back when a movie came out, Swingers, and there was a scene where guys my age were sitting around playing video games one evening.



my girlfriend said, "there's other guys playing games too? i thought you were kind of uniquely nerdy to still be playing video games at your age."



i felt validated that a movie would show others doing something i did in real life, though at the time was not as common as today. is the heart of this article asking for gay characters so that gays can feel they are being well represented?



if so, then it would only genuinely be justified validation if the character's sexuality was a focus within the gameplay and/or game story arc. super meat boy being gay would seem so tacked on in my opinion. pandering to any one group just comes off as cheap.



gay characters are being represented in games just fine by my view and they aren't always the "over-the-top-mesh-shirt" stereotypes but real people with real issues. i'm not sure if modern warfare 3 would be the game to insert a character's sexuality into the gameplay when it seems the "don't ask, don't tell" policy is only recently been addressed in real life.



i wish more game characters showed their preference for building plastic scale models or not being married but preferring to live common law... but in the meantime i'm okay blowing stuff up with an assexual polygon as my avatar. i feel validated by my friends and family, not my hobbies.

Heather N
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I think part of it is about validation, sure. It's also about social awareness. Without getting too political, it's sort of seen as yet one more way in which gay people aren't considered equal. If games are more tolerant, maybe the people who play them will be more tolerant too. I don't mean to suggest it's a direct result, or anything. It's just to say that media is both a reflection of society and a way to shape what society becomes.



Mostly, though, I think it's because people like to play games (and watch movies, read books, etc) that have characters which they can identify with. Not all the time, obviously, but often. It's part of the same reason women are always asking for more female heroines. It can get a little tiring playing a game that is exclusively written from a male perspective. Similarly, it can be tiring playing a game that is written from a heterosexual perspective. I'm sure the same could be said about playing a game from a white perspective.



As for having a gay character having to have his/her sexuality a focus of the gameplay, I disagree. In Skyrim, for example, your character can be gay, straight, or anything in between. In fact, every NPC that you can can have a relationship with is potentially bisexual. You go through the exact same process to marry male or female NPCs, regardless of your own character's gender. I think that process is a bit ridiculous (giving someone a necklace and doing a couple quests is a shallow way to develop a relationship). I really think Skyrim could have done without relationships at all, really. Though that's a conversation for a different place. The point is, at least the relationship process is equally shallow whether you want your character to be straight or not.



Just because people want more gay characters, doesn't necessarily mean they need gay story lines to go with those characters. It could be as simple as making a game in which any relationship options are available to the player, regardless of character gender. Or even as simple as making a game in which whatever implied relationship (such as Mario and Peach) just happens to be gay. A great discussion on what it means to be gay, etc, isn't always necessary when creating a gay character.

Joe Wreschnig
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Swingers isn't about video games (I assume from the title and Wikipedia description - I haven't seen it). Video games aren't "a focus within the [film's] story arc." But you still felt validated? So why must a game with a gay character address the character's gayness "within the gameplay and/or game story arc" to validate it? Why would a gay Super Meat Boy be any more "tacked on" than the straight one we have now?



The answer, is of course, social bias and false stereotypes about what it means to be gay. Super Meat Boy being gay would feel tacked on because gays aren't common in games, aren't common in media, aren't addressed passively by society. But showing alternative sexualities in media is exactly what needs to be done to stop this discriminatory mindset.



What's "tacked on" in games is the complete absence of alternative sexuality. It's just been tacked on for so long people think it's normal.

Jen Bauer
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About games with homosexuality: Anna Anthropy. I love that chick's work. She is unabashedly true to her sexuality in the +3 indie game she has made, so that covers your comment contest right there.



I think my concern as a designer is that I, personally, am not a homosexual, therefore I do not have a wealth of relevant experience to draw from to give such a character justice. Maybe that's just me. I suppose it can't hurt to try, though.

David Marcum
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This is dumb. Every character I play is gay/or not. I have never played a dating game, so I'm not sure. I am sorry if you feel bad about being gay. I think people that hate people because they are gay are jerks. This is dumb. Some people are jerks - don't feel bad. You can't reason with jerks.

Tacking on a sexual preference to a character, that is not having sex, will have the result of making that character a stereo-type. Which really -- who wants to be reduced to a stereo-type?

It's a no-win situation for the developer. Either they make a stereo-type and risk wrath from both gays (and their supporters) or idiots. Or they make an obvious soapbox out of their game and become an "important" but kinda-lame-game for some and eye-rolling to despised game for the rest. Or they ignore sexual preference because the game is not a soapbox. It's a game about -- learn these game rules well, to succeed. Which avoids the trap of entering into political/philosophical statements (such as - "be a decent human") and is just is a game for people to play and have fun with.

Joe Wreschnig
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"Every character I play is gay/or not. I have never played a dating game, so I'm not sure."



What an original thought. I don't think I have never seen such insight in a Gamasutra comment, and certainly not any comment in this article!



(Such illiterate bullshit. :/)

Bolo Yeung
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The fact is most heterosexual males don't want to play as a gay character and won't buy the game. Since they are the largest game purchasing demographic, alienating them will doom your bottom line. Its a no brainer; you create the game for your target audience. If their is a market for gay centric games then make a game for that audience. A lot of people play games for a vicarious experience, they want to be a pro athlete or a super soldier that gets the girl. Hetero males don't want to 'pretend' to be gay and no amount of social engineering or media indoctrination will ever change this.

Joe Wreschnig
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In what game are you a super soldier that gets the girl?

Vinicius Capiotti
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Well, the least we want to accept a "fact" is clear evidence.

Saying everyone who plays Call of Duty wants to be a soldier is just failed understanding of your audience. It's like saying everyone who plays Mario wants to have a mustache, or that Aquaria and Mirror's Edge are girl-centric games.



Now go there and make your protagonist with a big mustache. It's gonna sell just like Mario.



We are not talking about gay-centric games, we are talking about using homosexuality in story and character design. We are talking about being open for it, when the opportunity is there. Indoctrination is lack of reason, which is where you come from.

Eric Geer
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I think heterosexuals and homosexuals wouldn't mind this to be part of any game, if it made sense and it added to the plot and role the game is trying to portray. I think that there is a place for homosexuality in games..but there is no place for the stereotype. Yes, there are overly flamboyant homosexuals, yes there are transexuals, yes there are "the man" role homosexuals, etc etc...these are all stereotypes...it needs and should be defined in the role and play into the game rather than just being a tack on...



in the end people are people...each person has their own story, whether male/female, hetero/homo, black/while/hispanic/asian/etc. If each character has their own story and it is well played out within a game i don't care if you are any of the above...I will just want to hear/watch/play your story.

hanno hinkelbein
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funny enough noone pointed out how this whole topic is a chance for storytelling. gay characters being such a rarety you could bring so much more depth into simple plots - people don't expect it and writers could very easily use them to get players on the wrong track if they need to be.



how about npc's that act all strange on you being overprotective and cranky and you just can't get behind it because you would not expect them to do it out of love?



or take the revenge guy in a crime game who runs on a mission with you to avenge the death of his lover. we've seen the straight version of this over and over again, and it's tiring because it is hardly believable and has grown stale. but with the background of a hatecrime it would actually have a realistic background.



why not feature everyday problems that actually sets gay and straight people apart? What do you think is more interesting? a guy who became alcoholic because his girlfriend left him for another guy or a guy with the same fate who was left by his man? it's the same story, but which one haven't you heard yet?



It's a ton of differencies that we try to avoid out of PCness but by doing so we miss the chance of real communication. I certainly have a way different lifestyle than most of my straight friends.



gay people can be bad guys too! they make great villains if you just let them. no one's gonna blame you for it if you do it right. and if you do it will set you apart from everybody else.



if there is social interaction in a game we need more variation in character and gays are a huge untapped potential for storytelling i believe.

Arnaud Clermonté
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To answer the author's request for examples:



In World of Warcraft, for valentine's day, regardless of their avatar's sex, players could decide whether they wanted to romance males or females. ( I think you could even do both )

Attila Camdeviren
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"the only reason we're still waiting for a homosexual maincharacter is because it doesn't sell"



- "Has it been tried?"

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Hello,



I've read this at the beginning.

I think your question is unfair. As we all here knows, AAA Videogames are no Products made by chance. Everything must be doublechecked and redesigned to reduce the risk of a fail.

A fail is megaexpensive - you all know that.



And you also know about the homophobia. I remember about the actual discussions in Forums.

When people feels safe to start hate, they will hate!

I also really belive that even here, in this forum, are MUCH (!) more homophobic people then you would think.

But since it's in our Business not accepted anymore to show open your hate on gay people - like in the Moviebusiness or Television - the haters take extra caution. But I have seen it sooooooo often how people talk when it's secure for them.



It´s a good thing to help fightig homophobia, but why should a Games Studio take the risk of a Billion Dollar failure?

Why should they gamble with the Jobs of the Developer Team? Just because to make a symbol?

This is still a business - like it or not.



I always remember Raiden (MGS2) - *GAAAAY!!!* (still in my ears, even he was in love with a woman) - not much has changed since then.

We are a part of a Entertainment Industry!

I think it´s not up to the AAA games industry to change the world. They have to run a risky business and have to avoid mistakes.



I think the Indie Games could be much more effective.



And when the big publishers still likes to help, the should sign some projects of small developers for games like that and give them freedom to do what they want. In the case of a fail, no one has to die brutal.



This could be a chance in my eyes.

Harry Fields
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Marcus Fenix is gay... just saying. He never really expresses any interest in any females but gets all Broseph with Dom & Co.



Also, Mario never fishes for non-platonic companionship from Peach... He risks his live(s) hundreds of times to continually save her but never goes in for even a single deep kiss... He additionally has a fetish for Bowser's tail end.



Captain Price and Soap are clearly lovers, with Price being the Top.



There are plenty of gay characters in video games.... they just don't step up and throw it in your face.



Why must there always be this agenda to neatly label people as Straight, Bi, or Gay... The stories within these games do not tell the character's entire life story.... unless specified, the player is free to come up with their own take on a characters orientation (see my examples above).

Mike Langlois
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This post and these comments hit at the crux of two populations near and dear to me: gamers and LGBT folks. As a therapist I have seen how the discrimination gamers and geeks face parallels in some ways the stereotypes LGBT folks encounter. So often I get referrals or requests for consults by parents, partners or others who have pathologized playing video games as addiction, when in reality it is a lack of cultural competence. Just a couple of decades ago we needed to advertise our cultural competence in working with LGBT patients by being "gay-affirmative therapists.". Now I find myself having coined the term "gamer-affirmative therapist" for similar reasons.



Some statistics that have generally held up: Roughly 10% of the population identifies as strictly gay, to say nothing of bi, trans or queer. 99% of adolescent boys play video games, and 94% of girls. This means that around 1/10 of the gaming population doesn't get to see their sexual orientation portrayed in their gaming reality, in games where there is a literary or avatar element.



I have often maintained that video games are a form of art, and like other forms of art, should be revelatory of what it means to be human. If Drake is closeted that may be an accurate but sad simulacrum of human being today. But I think we can do better than that, don't you?

Alex Belzer
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Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3. Vamp and Volgin are bi-sexual, but these characters are also, unarguably evil. Falls into that 90s Hollywood movie trap of LGBT characters appearing as morally ambiguous, if not outright evil (Silence of the Lambs, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Basic Instinct, all come to mind).



Tricky gray area. Should we be pleased by any inclusion of LGBT folk in media as a sign of a step forward, or get mad at the implication that being part gay makes one immoral?

Josh VandeWalle
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I wrote a bit of an analysis on the practical difficulties in moving forward in this area, if you're interested:
http://sodapocket.wordpress.com/2012/02/26/homosexuality-in-video
-games-another-perspective/


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