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On Gay Themes In Videogames 164

Posted by simoniker
from the de-lovely dept.
shadowcabbit writes "Gamespot's most recent GameSpotting covered a wide range of topics, but probably one of the most intriguing among them is the examination of homosexual themes in video games. The article raises a few interesting questions, such as 'how much longer until an explicitly 'gay' game comes out?', but oddly focuses on male homosexual relationships, claiming them to be a way to entice female players; and mentions that while the main purveyors of homosexual content in games are Japanese companies like Squaresoft and NEC (who made the infamous Chou Aniki series), U.S. producers are starting to slip in some risque content, citing Temple of Elemental Evil's 'gay pirate' Bertram, and Will Wright's The Sims not balking at same-sex couples adopting a child character." We've previously covered another article on a similar subject.
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On Gay Themes In Videogames

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  • who ... cares.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBraynard (653724) on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:02PM (#9678644) Journal
    More than movies or TV, games are about being fun. So while you might see an otherwise unejoyable tv miniseries get acclaimed for discussing some kind of social issue like pedophilia or AIDS, you are not going to find a game that tries to make a social issue it's theme cause it won't sell.

    There is no market for 'artistic' games. Only fun ones.

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JavaLord (680960) on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:06PM (#9678689) Journal
    The article raises a few interesting questions, such as 'how much longer until an explicitly 'gay' game comes out?',

    How about when a game comes out that has a story where the character is gay, and the characters sexuality adds something to the storyline? I'm sure it won't end up being like that, some game developer will do it just to be 'edgy' and it probably will have no bearing on the game whatsoever.

    but oddly focuses on male homosexual relationships,

    Of course, because they are more shocking/disturb more people.

    claiming them to be a way to entice female players;

    Not....likely. It's more likely that you can entice male players with female homosexuals.

    and mentions that while the main purveyors of homosexual content in games are Japanese companies like Squaresoft and NEC

    Of course, because their culture is more open (or depraved, depending on your point of view) when it comes to sex.

    and Will Wright's The Sims not balking at same-sex couples adopting a child character."

    Why not, it's only someone else they can market the Sims to. Personally I hope when the first "gay" character comes out of the closet it actually has something to do with the storyline of the game, rather than it be just window dressing.

    This article is way behind the times. I play CS and all I ever here are people telling each other how gay they are. Maybe that is what all those terrorists and CT's are fighting over. It's all pent up homoerotic sexual frustration.
  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Elwood P Dowd (16933) <judgmentalist@gmail.com> on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:15PM (#9678812) Journal
    Personally I hope when the first "gay" character comes out of the closet it actually has something to do with the storyline of the game, rather than it be just window dressing.

    Personally, I don't. Just as a character being straight doesn't need to have anything to do with the plot of a game, a character being gay doesn't either.

    In regards to the "how much longer" question, I thought Solid Snake seemed pretty fruity. Maybe that was just my fantasy life getting out of control.
  • by cephyn (461066) on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:21PM (#9678889) Homepage
    Hey I totally agree with you, but its just not going to happen until EVERYONE sees [group x] as just regular people too.

    I'd only buy the game because its good, not because of its social value (if the game was crap, but had a [group x] character, you're right, so what?) but when a game is good and it treats the character of [group x] just like any other character, mission accomplished in my mind.
  • by I_Love_Pocky! (751171) on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:30PM (#9679028)
    I don't know why this has been modded off topic. You are clearly trying to say that making a "gay" game for the sake of it being a "gay" game is "artistic."

    In that sense I agree with you. As with anything else, there is no point in creating entertainment featuring a particular segment of society unless it adds to the entertainment value.

    My biggest problem with this whole idea is that unless it is handled properly, I would think that any "gay" game would probably turn out to be one big stereotype reenforcing gay joke.

    Honestly, it shouldn't matter if a character is gay or not. Just as it usually doesn't matter if they are straight (I would think Duke Nuken would probably have been a very different game if Duke was gay). Most games don't really have that much sexual content in them anyway.
  • by WormholeFiend (674934) on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:32PM (#9679058)
    In an effort to prove they're not any different from anybody else, they're made out to be uber special in some grand glorious event.

    You mean like Gay Pride street parades?
  • by cephyn (461066) on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:39PM (#9679160) Homepage
    Or St Patricks Day parades for the Irish? Or maybe you'd like to tell African-Americans not to have Black History Month Parades or Civil Rights marches because they shouldn't make an event out of trying to prove they're just like everyone else.
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:45PM (#9679252) Journal
    From what little I know from japan from the media (and how much does anyone of us really know about the world except through the media) they are even more homophobic then Americans. It is just that there is one segment of the entertainment media that makes money off selling stories about guys in love with guys. Why? Ask a yaoi reading japanese girl :P then ask her for her phone number and take an upskirt photo (perhaps that is the reason. It has been suggested that to women gay men are safe. A gay man will not harress, rape or peek at them.) As a guy I like some ecchi anime but some of it crosses the line where you start to wonder when the girl will just punch the guys teeth out.

    Anyway that is my theory about yaoi.

    In most games where relationships take a role I don't like it when I am forced to "only" take the approved hetero option. The sims was a very welcome exception. I can tolerate that the love interest in Planescape torment are only girls, I am a guy with strong hetero feelings (translation: Oooh bouncies!!!!!) but I can imagine that a hetero female or gay male or gay female wants to have a wider choice then angel succubus and boiling devil girl.

    Same with the otherwise excellent KOTOR. Why can't I whoo balista with a female char eh? (and people that choose to finding out that the mandolorians were like the spartans eh?)

    As someone whose family was closely affected by the holocaust I am extremely nervous about people that suggest that certain life styles are less worthy. You just know that people that say gay people should have lesser rights then hetero's want to say the same thing about differently colored people or people with different religions.

    So good luck to The sims 2, a courageos decision if they really leave it in in the current american climate. Peter Molyneux if you finally allow me to play a lesbian (and anyone who wants to a gay) paladin I might even forgive you for Black & White. (note it got to be a love story not toee was not a love story)

    As to the gamespot story, well it is clear its author still needs to learn a thing or two about homosexuality. Picking out high-heels and lipstick for your female avatar doesn't make you gay. If anything picking a male character and making his looks just right and hunky makes you gay. Creating a sweet hot perky female avatar just makes you pervert. When gay rights have been achieved world wide the human race will have made a step forward but when the rights of perverts have been regonized we will have arived at nirvana. Oh well back to getting balista to play the b-side. (as a side note do female players of KOTOR like the way the male comes on to their character? As the male I played the "50's" movie banter character constantly teasing balista but playing as a female I just found him tiresome, is that my testosterone talking or does the estrogene crowd feel the same?)

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:51PM (#9679339) Journal
    That only happens if you are female or you played with a patch (or perhaps you had a bug (he didn't ask my male char)) but morrowind was hetero. Meaning females and males had different love interests. Of course since morrowind was designed to be easily patched by users this was quickly altered so that you could do all the love stories regardless of your characters sex.

    Wich might suggest that the game playing audience is a lot more ready for this then the game makers or the game reviewers or the game raters.

    In morrowind when you where naked you were still in your undies. In a prequel I think when you where naked you really where naked. This was removed to appease goverment regulators in the USofC(ensorship).

  • by Pluvius (734915) <pluvius3&gmail,com> on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:56PM (#9679402) Journal
    I have a problem with all the "gay shows" on TV now-a-days not because they have gay characters, but because of how the gay characters are portrayed as having that be their only character trait. It's like homosexuality is a gimmick that executives use in order to get higher ratings.

    Anybody remember Ellen DeGeneres' old self-titled sitcom? It was actually pretty funny until Ellen came out of the closet, then every episode became centered around how gay she was. All of the humor was gone and the show got canceled pretty quickly after.

    Rob
  • by spike_gran (219938) on Monday July 12, 2004 @05:13PM (#9679629)
    Have to agree with this one. Games are supposed to be about fun. And since games are expensive to make, it only makes sense that that there is a need to appeal to the widest possible audience.

    I think you can draw a distinction between highly scripted games with strong characters and less scripted games with more abstract characters. For the strongly scripted games (FFX), one needs to tell a story that will play to the big audience, which probably means being low on the explicit male homosexual behavior, because it might alienate some of the core audience. But for more abstract games, a sexual preference could be just another option in the avatar customization menu.

    Since gays make up a small fraction of the audience, primarily gay-themed games will have a similar market to primarily gay themed movies. They will, by financial necessity, have smaller budgets, smaller scope and smaller development staff. Currently the state of game development tools means that it is still very hard to make a home-grown game (as compared to a home-recorded song or movie). But I think where the tools are mature and development is simple, gay games will pop up.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 12, 2004 @05:23PM (#9679772)
    Your constant focus on the act of homosexual anal intercourse leads me to belive that you are probably filled with hate for one reason: You secretly fantisize about anal sex (perhaps gay, perhaps straight), and yet you think it is a sin, and only by forcing yourself to hate it, can you keep yourself from engaging in it.

    Why else do you hate the act rather than the people? Do you hate straight people who engage in anal sex? How about straight people that engage in oral sex?
  • by dancingmad (128588) on Monday July 12, 2004 @05:38PM (#9679950)
    ...comes from the presence of it in Japanese culture. The Japanese are much more open about sexuality on the entertainment level than Americans are: Janet Jackson shows one so so breast and the country freaks out. One of the most popular doramas (an hour long sitcom / drama) in the last few years was GTO (based on anime and manga), which should characters watching hardcore porno (and showed the porn). That sexuality has been a part of Japanese culture since the explicit Tale of Genji and later explicit wood block prints.

    This extends to homosexuality; it's no secrect that priests and samurai often performed homosexual acts. Beat Takeshi Kitano was in a film about this, Gohatto, which presented members of the Shinsengumi as homosexual.

    As mentioned Yuri and Yayoi are popular manga genres exploring lesbian and gay themes respectively. Even other popular media can have references to it; I remember in Final Fantasy VII Cloud getting his HP restored after visiting a brothel and being fapped (nothing is shown) by another guy. A lot of it can be done jokingly.
  • Re:Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cephyn (461066) on Monday July 12, 2004 @05:48PM (#9680065) Homepage
    Of course, its normal and common over there, so of course they dont make a big deal about it. Here, its not like that. Once a big deal is made, it will be normal and not a big deal after. Just look at civil rights for a historical context. A big deal was made when women fought for, and won, the right to vote for the first time. Now, its not a big deal, its normal for women to vote. What would be a big deal is if you say, lowered the voting age to 16 or something like that.
  • by Chasuk (62477) <chasuk@gmail.com> on Monday July 12, 2004 @06:18PM (#9680452)
    A game with "gay" content is not an artistic one (necessarily).

    I'm gay. I also happen to be artistic, but that has nothing to do with the type of content that most of my community would like to see.

    What would we like to see? Gay-blindness, really. Game mechanics which make no distinction between hetero or homo avatars, and no gay characters who are stereotypes.

    Ever heard the joke about the trick-or-treater who dressed as a serial killer? The punchline was that he dressed the same as the everyone else, because serial killers can be anyone.

    Gay people can be anyone, and frequently are not whom you would expect.

    If I can speak on behalf of the gay community, I would guess that this is our collective wish: to be depicted and treated in games exactly like the hetero majority.

    From the main article:

    U.S. producers are starting to slip in some risque content,

    Gay content is not risque content. See above if you don't get it.
  • Same with the otherwise excellent KOTOR. Why can't I whoo balista with a female char eh?

    I'd have to hazard a guess that balista simply isn't attracted to women. If the designers were really clever, they'd have a few male charcters that can't woo her either, on account of her not liking them.

    Oh, and most of your post is very close to trollish. While I agree that homosexuals deserve a plethora of rights, it's wrongheaded to think that there are no "lifestyles" deserving of scorn. Serial killers and abusive rapists are two that come easily to mind as very much scorn-worthy.

    There are lots of reasoned and intelligent arguments for gay marriage and accepted homosexuality--and the world will not accept either of those things until their proponents raise their level of discorse from ill-formed arguments and ad hominem atacks.

    (Ill-formed argument: an argument not thought through. For example, if you say "it should be enough that they love each other" as your argument for gay marriage, then by the same token incest, polyamory, and possibly even pedophilla are all worhty--with the same argument. [My preferred argument for gay marriage is "if we allow a sexual union to happen legally, we should have a mechanism to give it legal standing." Nice and keeps out incest & pedophillia, too.])

    (The ad hominem attacks I'm referring to is the unfortunate tendancy to call someone who is opposed to gay rights a "homophobe." Mental disorders aside, there are at least two logical if not entirely convincing arguments against homosexuality that have nothing to do with fear. [ask me and I'll relate them.])
  • MOD PARENT UP (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blackcoot (124938) on Monday July 12, 2004 @10:33PM (#9682435)

    there are a lot of queer folk (lesbian, gay, bisesual, transexual/transgendered, intersex, questioning, and the rest of the alphabet soup), myself included, who are sick to death of the monoculture that's built up. there seems to be this impression that once you identify yourself as belonging to a group that identity supercedes any you may have had before. it makes dating a rather unpleasant experience: my choices are guys my age who haven't gotten over the fact that they like cock or guys about 10 years older than i, about a quarter of whom have realized that there's more to life than rainbow flags, circuit parties, and the gap's latest fall clothing lines (gee, i'm not bitter...).



    the more i think about it, the more a lot of the media attention on homoexuals has strong parallels to the blacksploitation [metroactive.com] films of the early '70s. the thematic elements are different, but the market forces are the same: how to best capitalize on the present frenzy of attention being paid to the issue. personally, i'm really looking forward to the day when nobody gives a fuck about this and we can all move on with our lives.

  • by DarthWufei (686942) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:23AM (#9683677)
    I love you, my fellow homosexual. Sometimes it bothers me when people come up tome and ask for fashion advice, or some other crazy stuff that I just plain don't know about. I also get too many questiosn of "Are you really gay?" after not being able to help them. It's quite sad. Anyways, on the issue of gays in video games. I think the Sims is the best example of what I want to see. I want to see a loving relationship between two characters, who are just like all the other polygon characters fromt he cover. They aren't gay from the start, but you form them to be that. Leave it up to the player, and if they do follow the gay route, don't make them into a stereotype. Just make them like everyone else. Hopefully future Sims games will allow you to focus more on how you character acts. In terms of being "straight acting", flamboyant, masculine, or feminine. I'd actually rather not see more gay characters until they're fully capable for the player to mold. You leave a lot less of a chance of getting such content to backfire.

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