Are games gay enough? - High-Def Digest Forums
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Old 01-09-2009, 02:49 PM
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Default Are games gay enough?

http://www.kombo.com/article.php?artid=12250

"Who would have thought that it would take an optional mission in a random game to get me thinking about the state of homosexual characters in today's games, but it seems that's precisely what happened. You see, the other day I was tromping about in Fable II when I happened across a random farm in the countryside. Like most regions in Fable, the kindly proprietor of the farm had a task for me, one which I took on with much relish. You see, the farmer was concerned about his son, a strapping young man who had yet to find that special lady with whom he would carry on the family name. Our friend of the earth asked me to go into the city and find a proper date for his boy, a gal who could make the surprisingly eligible bachelor happy. I took on the task, but figured it would be wise to chat with the young man first, as this all seemed a bit odd.

Sure enough, when I mentioned the task to the farmer's son he immediately got nervous and began to stumble and stammer. This boy had a secret, and I was beginning to understand exactly what it was. I decided to head off into town and woo a villager for this lovelorn soul, and I did exactly that, and he was a fine gentleman indeed. That's right, though the random NPC in the sidequest never said the words out loud, the boy was gay, and he had been trapped living a lie for a long, long time.

After finding the date and returning to the farm, I witnessed what was a rather tender moment between father and son, as the boy opened up to his dad about his hidden feelings and his father reacted first with genuine shock, then acceptance and understanding. While it may be the sort of outing homosexual individuals hope for when they finally decide to break the news, things rarely work out so calmly. All in all, it was a surprisingly touching moment for a game which up to that point had allowed me to wantonly kill villagers; loot and pillage till my pockets were overflowing and generally be all sorts of a bastard. I had never expected Fable to teach me a lesson in matters of human sexuality, and it got me thinking.

After finishing up the quest I immediately put the game down and began to think. Had I ever seen the issue of homosexuality handled so delicately in a game before? My mind raced for examples of past gay characters, and the figures I settled on didn't exactly paint a flattering picture. The first individual that sprang to mind was Makoto from the JRPG Enchanted Arms. Anyone who has played this game knows that dear sweet Makoto isn't exactly the person GLAAD is going to be putting at the front of the parade in order to dispel homosexual stereotypes. He is as flamboyant a character as can be, and his appearance in a game alone like set the gay rights movement back at least 20 years where gaming is concerned. The sad thing was, as I kept searching for more examples things didn't get much better; Mr. Silver and Mr. Gold from God Hand, Roxy and Poison from Final Fight, even our old pal Birdo from Super Mario Bros, all of them portray gay characters in a negative and stereotypical light. So the question becomes, is it time for the gaming industry to join television and films in the more sensitive portrayal of these characters, or is the medium simply not ready for such sweeping change?

In order to understand where we are now, it becomes necessary to look back at the history of gaming and see how far we have come. Since nearly the beginning of gaming gay characters have been utilized, though they almost always fell under the categories of villain or comic foil. These early characters were often cross-dressing, effeminate individuals whose inclusion as comic relief helped them circumvent Nintendo and Sega's censorship codes, which were modeled off the early Hollywood production codes which banned "sexual perversion." Also, the late 80s and early 90s marked the height of the AIDS scare, when many Americans first became aware of the disease and associated almost exclusively with members of the homosexual community. This vilification of the entire group seeped into gaming as well, as the lifestyle was decried as "evil" by many in the mainstream community.

"Unfortunately, in a market where first-person shooters featuring space marines and 'roided-up super-soldiers dominate the landscape, there seems to be little inclination to tackle one of society's biggest taboos."
As times changed the portrayal of gay characters softened, and by the mid-90s and at the turn of the millennium, homosexual characters were being treated with a bit more tact. There were still plenty of the old stereotyped characters to go around, but games like Indigo Prophecy: The Longest Journey and Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 all featured openly gay or bisexual characters and gave them more to do than prance about in women's clothing speaking with a lisp and getting into slap fights. 2001 was also the year the original Fable was released, giving players the opportunity to date and marry same-sex partners if they so chose. For many, this was the first time in gaming where they could actually control their own romantic destiny rather than being led toward a simple and inevitable conclusion with one specific character, and the reactions varied widely from interest and intrigue to downright disgust.

It's no surprise that the earlier part of this decade was a sort of "Golden Age" for gay game characters, it was also the time other segments of the media began to treat the lifestyle with a more thoughtful approach. This was largely due to the emergence of Will & Grace as a television hit, and later years brought the success of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and the advent of "metrosexualism." Furthermore, 2006's Brokeback Mountain brought the trials and tribulations of a gay relationship into mainstream cinema (yes, there have been movies with gay characters for a long time; no, most people didn't notice or care until Brokeback), cementing the issue at the forefront of the social agenda. As society goes, so goes gaming, and this was the period when a sort of "Gay Renaissance" struck the landscape.

These periods of change don't last forever, though, and as the issue has receded in the public eye, games have reverted back to previous stereotypes once thought to be on the way out. Once again gay characters are treated as the villains and the comic relief, with Makoto being but one example of how far we have fallen. Something fans might not know is that the game Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door actually features a character whose gender was changed for the sake of American audiences. Vivian, one of the Shadow Sisters, appears as a male character in the Japanese version of the game, but due to a scene in which (s)he kisses Mario on the cheek and expresses feelings for the protagonist Nintendo chose to change the character's gender for American audiences in order to avoid controversy.

Thus, even though we saw a glimpse of equality a few years ago, unfortunately games have fallen back into the rut of stereotype and hyperbole. While there are brief moments in games like Fable II or Metal Gear Solid that treat homosexuality with a careful, thoughtful approach, the game industry seems to be far more comfortable sticking with tired clichés and stereotypes for the sake of not offending, but also not progressing. Unfortunately, in a market where Marcus Phoenix stands as the definition of a man and Lara Croft is the essence of what it means to be a woman, there seems to be little inclination to tackle one of society's biggest taboos. While games have the potential to stand at the bleeding edge of social and political commentary, they prefer to play it safe and put sales above message, lagging far behind their contemporaries in television and cinema. Games simply refuse to be gay, and for that we all suffer. "
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Old 01-09-2009, 02:50 PM
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Just thought this was an interesting article. I tried to think of examples myself and having never played Fable or MGS, I could only think of the 10 minute scene in Indigo Prophecy. Kinda pitiful
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Old 01-09-2009, 02:57 PM
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I remember that quest in Fable 2. Fable and Fable 2 are really the most open about homosexuality games I've ever played.

In MGS3, you disguise yourself as an officer and the superior grabs his nuts to check if it's really him.

I know Bioware has long had Lesbian relationships... But never the man on man stuff.

Here's the thing.

When Homosexuality is handled properly, like in the quest with Fable 2, It doesn't bother me in the least bit.

When it's handled like Makato in Enchanted Arms, I'm offended, even though I am Hetero. The article covered that anyways.
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Old 01-09-2009, 03:04 PM
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As bad as mokoto is in Enchanted Arms I konw 2 to 3 guys just like him. So it's not like they're just making it up. I was a waiter shortly after college for some extra cash, being a bodybuilder lets just say i've had my share of mokoto pick up lines.

What do you guys think of Zelda games. Those are the most bi-curious construction workers i've ever seen.
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Old 01-09-2009, 03:04 PM
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Makoto was a digital abortion lol
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Old 01-09-2009, 03:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slayerfaith1982 View Post
Makoto was a digital abortion lol
I thought it was absolutely hilarious when he ended up being the mysterious dude.... he was like this girl can't go running around saving the day.

But that yehehehehehehehe saxaphone attack was the worst. I was glad he died when he did.... or at least I thought he did obviously.
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Old 01-09-2009, 03:08 PM
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Doesn't Fear Effect (I think that's the name) feature lesbians?

Edit -- Well, I had the right game, but apparantly I was wrong about my assumption.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear_Effect_2

Quote:
Retro Helix gained some notoriety for a suggestive ad campaign hinting at a lesbian relationship between the two female protagonists. Director Stan Liu would go on to state in various interviews that Hana and Rain were not lesbians, but simply two women who in this particular instance chose to become lovers. The suggestion here is that human relationships are not so black and white as to be reduced to categories, but often fall into a gray area. In his words:

"Once and for all, let me set the record straight. Hana is not a lesbian! She likes men...and she likes women. Who she chooses to go to bed with at the end of the day is not a big deal![...]The only reason I wanted Hana to have a female companion this time around is because it gives me the ability to create an extremely interesting love triangle further down the road."
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Old 01-09-2009, 03:09 PM
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Yea it was pretty funny he went from being super effeminate stereotype, to tough-as-nails mysterious badass, and the second he took off the disguise at the end he immediately resumed the super effeminate ways. Tragic lol

I was kinda surprised when playing Indigo prophecy though when there was that fairly realistic scene w/ Carla n her gay neighbor. It doesn't have to be something over the top like grabbing testicles or cross dressing or lisps abound etc.
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Old 01-09-2009, 03:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kickingtotalass View Post
As bad as mokoto is in Enchanted Arms I konw 2 to 3 guys just like him. So it's not like they're just making it up. I was a waiter shortly after college for some extra cash, being a bodybuilder lets just say i've had my share of mokoto pick up lines.

What do you guys think of Zelda games. Those are the most bi-curious construction workers i've ever seen.
I know some are like that. They don't realize they harm the appearance of all Homosexuals though. It's like African-Americans Rappers. They display a thugish, violent, offensive and crude persona which actually harms what Malcom X and many other black activists worked so bloody hard for!
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Old 01-09-2009, 03:13 PM
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Here are some gay characters I've experienced in games:

Shadow Hearts 2 and 3 - very obvious (That bald shop owner guy)
Persona 4 (Kanji is in the closet obviously)
Enchanted Arms (Makato definetly)

Not too many, but the ones I do come across I tend to remember. Some are well done, some are tacky and cheesy. I thought Fable 2 handled it rather well compared to how most JRPG's handle it with absolute silliness.
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