Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Alex Misses The Point On Gay Gamers

The super cool Aleks Krotoski posted This Article over at the Guardian's Gaming Blog, about Gay characters in video games. She talks about how more games should include gay characters and I think she misses the point on this entirely.

As I see things the only difference between a straight character in a game and a gay character, is how they are played. NPCs are another thing, but when it comes to playable characters it is upto whoever is playing to decide if they are straight, gay, transsexual or whatever.
For example in This little flash game, there are two dogs who are in love, one gets kidnapped and the other has to save them. They might be married, they might have been going out for years or maybe they might have just met. And there is no gender references with these characters either. So the one you are playing could just as well be male as female. So you could see this game as homoerotic if you choose to, but in actual fact this is just a simple game with genernuteral characters. Neither dog has any gender.

This perception could be extended to other games like, Doom. Who is to say that the character gamers play in Doom isn't gay. There is nothing in the game to says they are straight, and there is certainly nothing to say they are gay. So if somebody plays Doom with the mindset that they are playing a gay character then they are RPGing a gay character, just as they would if they as decided that they where playing as as a straight character.
If you then extend this thinking to every other game without sexual content, Mario and Luigi could have had a history of incest. The point is, unless the developer wants to specifically label their characters like in Leisure Suite Larry, then the character can be anything the player wants. And this is the point Alex misses.

One thing developers can do to open-up games is to allow people to make gay choices. What I mean by this is that when there is an opportunity for a sexual encounter, developers only need to allow the player to choose their own path to make the game more open.
For example in The Sims 2, Sims will happily sleep with a same sex Sims just as much as they will with opposite sex Sims. So the only games which should consider changing are games like Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines who's plot places the gamer in a persition where the option could be there, but it is denied.
The encounter I am talking about is when my male character was flirting with a restaurant reviewer. He becomes interested, but the only option I have to his advances is:
1) No, but I might catch you later.
2) No, I will HAVE to take a rain-check.

The current state of games attitudes towards people who wish to play as a gay character is good and there are far fewer games that specifically deny homosexual characters than those that allow the player to choose. Simply put this entire issue is just a matter of freedom and choice within the game-space.