Another game developer with an interesting perspective on the topic is Jacques Servin.
Don’t be surprised if the name seems familiar; Servin gained some level of fame when he was fired from Maxis in the mid-90s for adding scantily clad male swimmers with a penchant for kissing one another to the developer’s SimCopter game.
Servin says neither his gayness nor the gayness of his prank were an issue for the powers that be at Maxis. “Will [Wright] is great, brilliant, fun to work with,” he assures. “There was no homophobia, nor was there any problem with gay content.”
When asked if the general “straightness” of the gaming industry sometimes keeps developers from including gay content in the games, however, Servin responds, “that sounds about right.”
Don’t look for Servin to become a poster boy for adding gay characters and storylines to games, though. In his opinion, there are more important things to worry about.
“It’ll surely happen when the time is right,” he says. “It doesn’t seem to me like the most urgent thing—I’m much less worried about any content in video games that about, say, AIDS in Africa or the potential destruction of Bangladesh (not to mention New York) if the worst climate change predictions come true.”
Where do developers go from here? Carter, for one, suggests the industry needs to alter its view of the gaming public, especially as it relates to how they think about gay content in games.
“Put it this way,” he says, “if you asked an average gamer to take a stance on sexuality, he would simply grunt: ‘Um... I'm kinda busy with this killing zombies bit. Ask me lat... aaAAAAARRRGHHHH.’”
Brathwaite agrees, and even goes so far as to suggest most gamers would accept a gay main character if it was presented in the right way.
“If the sexuality of the avatar was a part of the narrative,” she offers, “I think the great majority of the gaming public would accept such a change, particularly if they were the ones choosing the sexuality of the avatar.”
“When I consider games in a broader sense,” Brathwaite adds, “I’d go so far as to say we already have games that allow players to be who they want to be. The social aspects of all MMOs promote that. While you’re not directly selecting your sexuality, you sure as hell can be who you want to be in the game.
That said, Brathwaite admits “there are a ton of games—the great majority, I’d wager—that have nothing to do with the sexuality of the character. Rarely are they as outwardly straight as, say, Duke Nukem. They don’t outright state their sexuality, nor do they need to.”
Although he’s clearly supportive of allowing players to choose their character’s sexuality (and other traits) when it makes sense, don’t go looking for Carter to produce a game that focuses solely on a gay character (or the larger gay community) any time soon. His upcoming sequel to Fable will still allow gamers to mold their hero’s sexuality (and play as a female as well), he says, though he adds, “we'd be against marketing a game specifically at gay gamers, as much as targeting women, older men, specific racial groups or any other distinct groups."
“This isn't a moral stance,” Carter assures. “We create games for everyone, and attempt to be as inclusive as possible. Fable was designed so that anyone could pick up a game-pad and have a good time.”