Handle With Care: Gamer Homophobia

By Kieron Gillen on October 6th, 2009 at 7:39 pm.


We’ve covered art mod series Radiator before, both first part Polaris and the second Handle With Care. Because we are all about the art-wank. Or wanking generally, in my case. However, some people are less into splendid art-ejaculate, and Robert Yang writes about their responses over in this week’s Escapist. Of course, their problem isn’t pretension or even iffy Half-life-two-level design. It’s because you were “tricked” into playing a gay protagonist…

You might have, as some players did, invented a female persona for your player character and assumed it was the same young “lady” dating Dylan from my previous mod, “Polaris.” And then you would find out, whether from seeing the name “James” so often or from reading forum posts – that I had managed to “trick” you into playing as a homosexual male.

Perhaps that made you angry enough to go to my website and, with the proud honor of being the first to post a comment on my work, you may have hastily written the following post: “Re relese [sic] the game without the GAY!”

His response, quite reasonably, is to tell them to sling their hook. There’s lots more in the article, which is an interesting examination of how even negligible homosexual content creates a disproportionately homophobic response.

Separate from the main topic, I admit one bit really disturbed me…

It is two months ago, when an editor at The Escapist suggested that readers might not fully appreciate my game design analysis of OkCupid in “Grinding the Dating Scene” if references to my preference for dudes stayed in the article. I agreed and changed it.

I mean, I understand the reasoning, but I’m deeply saddened by it.

Not much more to say than that, really.

Pah.

, .

271 Comments »

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  1. Lilliput King says:

    In terms of the ‘disgust’ angle, Polita has a point in that it’s obviously enough a survival instinct. I’m disgusted by the smell and appearance of vomit, and of rotting meat. This tells me not to get too close to/play with/eat vomit or rotting meat. I’m not sure in the case of homosexuality that it holds true, though, especially as a method for declaring it ethically wrong.

    For a start, your disgust isn’t universal. Gay people most likely don’t find themselves or others disgusting. Which puts it firmly into the “wrong for me, not wrong for you, but I’m right” category of confused arguments.

    Secondly, culture moves faster than evolution. There are too many examples of disgust not helping us one bit, and people just having to get over it. I imagine at some point all doctors and surgeons feel pretty icky about the fact that they have to talk to people about their wang dysfunction/slicing people open, but they get over it, and provide a service that helps millions of people.

    Perhaps if you think of disgust as a base instinct like fear it might help to rationalise it. Fear helps us, lets us know when to run, often protects us from harm. But sometimes its a hindrance, despite apparently making sense. Planes are pretty scary things, flying up there, weighing loads, woo it’s crazy. Plenty of people are scared of planes, and of flight, despite it being perfectly safe. Plenty of people get over it. Essentially, your disgust is irrational.

    At least, thats how I see it.

    • Ergates says:

      I found sprouts disgusting, the thought of eating one makes me feel physically sick. Yet they are very good for you and full of vitamins and nutrients. Which means that in this (admitedly very specific) case, disgust is actually positively harmful. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it. (not you, obviously, I’m on your side)

  2. Pijama says:

    Homophobia – one of the most ridiculous social behaviours, EVER.

    It’s not like being actively anti-homosexual will do anything. They (homosexuals) will get around and love each other as they should. Period.

    The AIM won’t make a difference.

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      Grey Cap says:

      Not true. People (in most cases?) are hurt when other people ridicule them or attack them -or spit at them- or whatever. I can sort of understand what you mean (it’s a free country and so there’s no problem) but mindless hate DOES hurt people. Might as well say that racism can’t hurt immigrants. . .

  3. Hoernchen says:

    Great. The gaming equivalent of picking up a hooker just to find out that it’s actually a transvestite. If I buy pussy, I don’t expect ass, so I feel betrayed, how is this surprising ?

    • coupsan says:

      Except you weren’t supposed to play the game with the expectation of anything. If you thought it was the same protagonist, that’s your incorrect presumption.

      There was no trickery involved. Nothing was guaranteed.

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      Arathain says:

      Because you assumed something about your character without being told. Why did you do that? Would you assume your character’s hair was dark and get terribly offended when you looked in a mirror in the game and saw it was blond?

  4. Helm says:

    I think perhaps there is some misinterpretation of other social fears as ‘disgust’ when one sees a couple of dudes making out or ponders the concept of an incestuous coupling of some sort. It is the mark of a lucid mind to, when faced with such emotions, instead of hastily thinking of how they can or cannot support their moral predisposition and sticking to easy solutions that do, instead explore them more and bravely and see where they lead. It’s often surprising where that is. For example I’ve had this ‘gay disgust’ at some point in my younger life (I’m 25 now) and what clued me in that it wasn’t some sort of primoridial hardwired response was that before having seen people making out I wasn’t disgusted by the concept in the abstract. I realized that what I was feeling wasn’t so much disgust as it was anger at these people that were defying social norms that were solidified in me from a very early age, it was a knee-jerk reaction towards people that ‘do not play by the rules’ coupled with my own teenage olmisexual frustration (meaning I wasn’t getting any so how dare they). It’s the very same impulse that also drives a lot of people towards ‘socially aberrant’ behavior in the first place, sometimes.

    It is a very valid point against previously mentioned ‘hardwired evolutionary disgust’ concepts expressed before that after I worked my shit out, these emotions went away and now I can look at homosexual people having sex without feeling any negative emotion, and also, although I don’t feel any strong sexual impulse from such things, I can see how if I unraveled the social programming further, I might at some point do. I can certainly spot tenderness and passion just like I can in heterosexual couples. Did I get WILLPOWER FROM THE UNIVERSE and defeat my nature or something? Of course not. I just came to terms with some cognitive dissonance between my instinctual tendencies and the overlying conditioning that a largely bigoted society hammers into us from a very early age.

    • 12kill4 says:

      Helm’s response was brilliant. Why do I now feel like there are a bunch sociologists lurking around the virtual corridors of Rps waiting to form a flashmob on any topic which can allow them to put their seemingly useless degree into action.

  5. Legionary says:

    Gaming is a hotbed for homophobia because games developers have produced bugger all games in which homosexuality even occurs, or they create games where homosexuality is either exploitative (lesbians with large breasts) or an object of ridicule (“haha, look he’s camp/gay!”)

    Honestly, think about black or asian people people in games. Wouldn’t it be weird if there were hardly any of ‘em in games? And wouldn’t it eventually promote amongst gamers a sort of racism?

    Education defeats prejudice, and it’s time we admit that games are a large part of education, particularly cultural education. But there’s none of that prejudice-busting education in games. Games overwhelmingly ignore homosexuality as though it doesn’t exist. And when it does feature some homosexuality, it mocks or derides it. Think of the GTA series.

    Developers need to introduce homosexuality as an option in any game where the player character is not defined (ie where the player creates their own or makes the decisions). And they need to add in gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered supporting characters. We do exist in real life, but thanks to developers we don’t exist in the myriad universes shown to us in games.

    • Howl says:

      Gaming follows Hollywood so I’m not holding my breath here. I can’t think of any blockbusters where the characters are incidentally gay. Their sexuality is generally an integral part of the plot (i.e. it’s some kind of ‘gay’ film, whatever that means) or they are straight.

      When we have Hollywood blockbusters with people charging around, saving the world and they just happen to also be gay, then attitudes might start changing, with gaming dragging along a decade behind.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      While I agree that games as a whole would benefit from more and better representation of gay characters, I think calling games a hotbed for homophobia is pushing it more than a bit too far. Don’t forget, this is the internet. There are a lot of web sites you can go to where you can sometimes find expressions of outrage against homosexuality (and any number of other things) that would be considered inappropriate in most social circumstances. They’re typically whose topics attract excessive outrage of all types. Games, comic books, politics, whatever. What you see there isn’t a special hatred of homosexuals that is somehow related to the topic, it’s people who enjoy expressing excessive outrage (say that three times fast) taking advantage of an environment where their behavior is accepted or encouraged. That doesn’t mean their behavior is typical of anyone who enjoys the topics those sites cover, it just means that if you allow unreasonable people to shout a lot they’ll wind up dominating the conversation. Go to sites that don’t allow that sort of crazy behavior, even if those sites relate to the same topics, and you get a much different sort of discourse.

    • Gutter says:

      The demographic isn’t large enough to bother with that. Yes, there is a lot of avid gamers who are gay, but it’s still a pretty small percentage of the market. It’s pretty clear that woman avatars in games are made to be played by male. They do not offer a Male and Female option to accommodate female players, they do it for the male players, hence the large bossoms.

      Why would give special attention to your demo when they are not even trying with a much larger one?

      Beside, having gay theme expose them to the biggest video game censor of all : Wal-Mart.

    • pnic says:

      I don’t think Hollywood is as far behind as you’d think on gay films. I think it’s often the audience’s (and critic’s) perception that makes us think that the only films with gay characters are “gay films”. Consider Brokeback Mountain. Along with Milk, it’s probably your archetypal “gay film”. This certainly doesn’t have anything to do with Ang Lee making it only about gay issues. The plot could easily be duplicated with a heterosexual couple. Forbidden love wrecking lives has been a common theme for a long time. Often I think the press can be blamed for making a huge deal of the homosexuality in a film that we begin to think of the film only in that context.

    • Risingson says:

      Stop talking about normal or natural, people. Those words are, I insist, the godwin of these kind of discussions. Natural? What does mother nature have to do with this in the 21st century? Normal? Why is normality a positive concept per se?

      And here it is, Gutter said:
      “The demographic isn’t large enough to bother with that. Yes, there is a lot of avid gamers who are gay, but it’s still a pretty small percentage of the market. It’s pretty clear that woman avatars in games are made to be played by male. They do not offer a Male and Female option to accommodate female players, they do it for the male players, hence the large bossoms.

      “Why would give special attention to your demo when they are not even trying with a much larger one?”

      That’s another funny one. Gay people have been playing heterosexual characters or feeling like them during a lot of years, and that is considered something, let’s say, normal. But heterosexual men (women?) cannot empathise with a gay character. It’s a minority! It is not interesting! I don’t want to see their vision! Homosexual obsession!

      “Why would give special attention to your demo when they are not even trying with a much larger one?”

      Diversity? Credibility? Niche market?

      And then there is the other related matter: I don’t want gay people to show me that they are gay. I can talk about boobs, about my wife, about my girlfriend, about how HOT is that girl that has just passed by, but gay people? Please, don’t talk about your preferences. I don’t want to know them, they are disgusting, and you must understand and tolerate how I feel.

      And then again is the matter of “i like gay people that look like the rest of the people”. Let’s kill the difference already.

  6. Helm says:

    Persona 4, though quirky and Japanese, tackles the concept of a superficially ‘tough guy’ that has homosexual feelings he’d rather not admit. Of course, in true jprg fashion the onset of working it out is to fight a Shadow Self boss battle where his shadow’s naked torso is fitted on the neck of a gigantic muscular figure that holds oversized 0-> male symbols with both arms and is flanked by two bodybuilders named ‘Nice Guy’ and ‘Tough Guy’. You should go after ‘Nice Guy’ first cuz he buffs the boss up the whole time.

    After the battle the character admits to his shadow self that he is too a part of him and that he has some soulsearching to do. And he actually does, for the rest of the game.

    But yes, not a lot of games like that.

    • Bhazor says:

      This! This is pretty much what I say whenever some bast tells me JRPGs are generic.

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      Okami says:

      I will now buy Persona 4. Eventhough I have sworn to never ever play another one of those damn JRPGs again.

  7. Narrator 1 says:

    As the great Kusanagi Kyo would say:

    “Heh, heh! Burned!”

  8. sinister agent says:

    I would encourage anyone who has a problem with playing as a gay person to lick a socket and taunt a bear. I can quite understand people who merely don’t care either way and/or don’t want someone who’s gay to be in their face about it, or even to hear about it – they do no harm and want to be left alone, so fine. But people who act all outraged and disgusted about it need to just fuck a rent boy already. There’s no reason but sublimated self-loathing to go that over the top about it.

    • Ergates says:

      I would encourage anyone who has a problem with playing as a gay person to lick a socket and taunt a bear
      Presumably not at the same time though as they’re very rarely found in the same locations.

    • Noc says:

      Unless someone has snuck a bear into your living room as a prank, or you’re out at one of those campgrounds with electricity hookups for campers.

  9. Hyudra says:

    Legionary uses black/asian as an example, “What if black/asian people were absent from games.” — I’d like to point out that hispanics are very much a nonentity in games. At best, you can find a skin color option in a character creator, but even then they’re very much a minority.

    Aboriginals as well. I think Prey had a native american protagonist, but that’s the only example that springs to mind.

  10. MD says:

    My first reaction is just to snicker at the blatant idiocy of some people. But that’s an easy response when I’m not on the receiving end of what can depressingly often spill over into serious hatred with serious consequences.

  11. Serenegoose says:

    wow! The escapist doing a ‘wtf is with the homophobia in gamers and games!’
    Oh. The escapist still hasn’t got a handle on basic trans friendly language.
    oh videogame articles. With one hand ye giveth…

  12. Sulkdodds says:

    The silliest part of all this is of course:

    that Handle With Care is not a ‘gay game’. That any homosexuality in it is almost irrelevant to the precedings. That the characters are normal people, and their marriage is a normal marriage; that its themes are ordinary and speak to ordinary people. That they JUST HAPPEN to be gay. And that this apparently STILL a problem for some people. You know there’s a big problem in culture when something becomes a gay rights issue merely because gays are present. It’s absurd that this threatens to eclipse all the other interesting things that the game does (or that it fails to do).

    Yang brings this up plenty and he’s right to focus on it: portraying homosexuality as so perfectly normal that its presence is utterly unworthy of comment is probably the most effective approach.

  13. Andy says:

    I wouldn’t mind gays so much if they’d just stop bloody rubbing it in our faces.

    “Woo woo I’m gay, look at me I’m spectacular”

    No one gives a shit.

    Really, I couldn’t care less if you choose to stick your prick up another man’s arsehole, just keep your damn private life private.

    Stop dressing up flamboyantly, wearing more make up than a whore, having your hair styled in a way so tacky even a runway model wouldn’t have it like that, stop using that silly little high pitched gay voice, stop doing the gay walk….
    Just stop attention seeking, stop insulting people that don’t agree with your word view, and the majority of animosity between hetros and homos will fade away.

    —-
    Oh yeah, and if i remember rightly the majority of studies on homosexuality between animals showed that most species either used it as a form of male dominance (think prison bitch, pushing a male down to the status of female), or simply because they’re horny little bastards who need a hole (because they can’t wank) to relieve themselves and there’s no willing (or weak…) female nearby. Dolphins have actually been known to rape people.

    And before one of you lefty dictators decide to insult my intelligence (I know you will because I’ve taken the anti-pro-gay stance) based off my fragmented, grammatical cluster fuck of a post, I’m dysgraphic.

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      Arathain says:

      “I wouldn’t mind gays so much if they’d just stop bloody rubbing it in our faces.”

      Just as soon as everyone else stops rubbing their heterosexuality in theirs. Fair’s fair.

    • jalf says:

      Gosh yes, and those *girls*! Wearing makeup and stuff too, dressing to attract attention, eww, what are they thinking? What about you? You never let anyone know you’re into girls? You never comment to people around you that that girl over there is hot? You never compliment a girl on her looks?

      But yes, I can totally see how that’s different, and the same standards shouldn’t be applied to GAYS.
      We can’t have *gays* going around here trying to make themselves attractive just because everyone else does it. Where’d we be then?

      Just stop attention seeking, stop insulting people that don’t agree with your word view

      The irony is staggering…

      I just don’t understand the animosity. No one cares if a guy tries to show off to impress a girl. No one minds if a girl shows a bit too much cleavage or exaggerates the swaying of her hips when walking.

      But if someone *dares* to dress outside your norms, *dares* to be attracted to someone you’re not attracted to, they should be BANNED.

      No. You just need to get out more. Get off the internet, let people live their lives the way they want to and stop cramming your bigotry and prejudices down their throats.

    • Legionary says:

      It may well be true that you think you’re being entirely fair when you say you only resent having your “face rubbed in it”, but the reality is that you’re being entirely unfair.

      “Know your place,” is your message, “know your place.”

    • Andy says:

      “We can’t have *gays* going around here trying to make themselves attractive just because everyone else does it. Where’d we be then?”

      There’s a bit of a difference between wearing trendy pants and a smart shirt, and dressing up like a woman.

      “You never comment to people around you that that girl over there is hot?”

      Random strangers no, straight mates yes.
      Do I open The Sun to page 3, shove it under my gay work mate’s nose and go ‘Look at these puppies, see what you’re missing?”, No.

      Speaking of him, he’s the type of gay person I like. For all intents and purposes he looks, acts, and talks normal. I wouldn’t have even guessed that he was a homosexual if I hadn’t been told by a friend of his who also works with me.

      “But if someone *dares* to dress outside your norms, *dares* to be attracted to someone you’re not attracted to, they should be BANNED.”

      What happens between two consenting adults in their own private space is of no concern to me, but when they take it out in public it becomes a whole nother matter, and I extend this to straight people as well. The amount of times I’ve walked through the city centre and seen people engaging in foreplay…

      “No one cares if a guy tries to show off to impress a girl. ”
      Showing off how, like showing off how many press ups they can do?
      Yeah, I and most people I know would think that person is a cunt.
      And if it’s a mate much piss taking would ensue

    • Psychopomp says:

      “There’s a bit of a difference between wearing trendy pants and a smart shirt, and dressing up like a woman.”

      Not all queens are gay, dude.

    • Vinraith says:

      “Not all queens are gay, dude.”

      Most of them aren’t, in fact.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Also

      “I wouldn’t mind gays so much if they’d just stop bloody rubbing it in our faces.”

      I enjoy penis

      NEENER
      NEENER
      NEENER

    • invisiblejesus says:

      Andy, consider this. There are no men, gay or otherwise, dressed up as women in this thread. There are no people, gay or otherwise, making out. There’s a discussion of an art mod that happens to have two gay character in it and the response that’s gotten from players. That’s all. And your response to that has been an angry tirade in which you’ve slapped a pretty broad stereotype on gays and then pre-emptively declared the rest of us “lefty dictators” who’re going to make fun of your grammar, despite no one having said one word to you about it at that time.

      I’m not asking for a response. Just take some time to think over the actual contents of the article, the actual responses people have posted, and your response. That’s all. No flaming, no lefty dictatorship, just think about it.

    • user@example.com says:

      One of my co-workers has a picture of her child as her desktop wallpaper, and her boyfriend visited her at work once.

      I wish she’d stop rubbing it in my face. Nobody gives a shit – she can be straight if she likes, but where does she get off forcing it into public view like that?

    • Lars Westergren says:

      “I wouldn’t mind gays so much if they’d just stop bloody rubbing it in our faces.”

      Well, I get heterosexuality rubbed in my face literally hundreds of times daily, 365 days a year – couples walking hand in hand and even kissing openly, sexy ads, romance subplots on TV, movies, books and in games… Love and sex are one of the main parts of human existence, why do you demand that I have to go around and constantly censor an important part of myself in order not to offend you?

      “Stop dressing up flamboyantly, wearing more make up than a whore, having your hair styled in a way so tacky even a runway model wouldn’t have it like that, stop using that silly little high pitched gay voice, stop doing the gay walk….”

      Few gay guys do that – and even if some do, what does it matter? You are not going to catch the gay if you accidentally look at someone acting like this, why makes you so angry about human diversity?

      “if i remember rightly the majority of studies on homosexuality between animals showed that most species either used it as a form of male dominance”

      I have two objections to that argument-

      a) Historically, “dominance” has always been the explanation in biology texts for homosexual acts, but this has changed. It has been known for along time that among the human like apes that sex is used as a social “lubricant” rather than aggression. There are also cases where biologists have changed their minds about the dominance explanation among other animals. If, for instance, among mountain rams, individual A fucks B who fucks C who fucks A, and in each act both individuals are nonaggressive to each other, and indeed seek each other out, there is either a strange dominance hierarchy going on, or they are likely doing it for fun and pleasure. But since we can’t interview them and ask them about their “true” motives it is difficult to know for sure.
      b) Since when is animal behaviour a suitable measure of human behaviour or morality? Many male animals when mating with a new female kills her previous children with other males so she will go into heat quicker and then devote all her energy to raising his offspring. Is this something we should learn from? If not, why do you think should we learn from how common homosexuality is in the animal kingdom?

    • Psychopomp says:

      “Andy, consider this. There are no men, gay or otherwise, dressed up as women in this thread. There are no people, gay or otherwise, making out.”

      I don’t know, Kieron *does* drink a lot.

    • Kieron W says:

      “Stop dressing up flamboyantly, wearing more make up than a whore, having your hair styled in a way so tacky even a runway model wouldn’t have it like that”

      “There’s a bit of a difference between wearing trendy pants and a smart shirt, and dressing up like a woman”

      Look, women get all the best clothes, shoes and makeup. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect them to share :-) And you’re conflating your hate-figures, most cross-dressers/transvestites are heterosexual. For instance, my latex minidress was a birthday present from my girlfriend.

    • Sonic Goo says:

      Not all gay people dress like women or even flamboyantly. Most look just like anyone else. In fact, there could be a gay person RIGHT BEHIND YOU RIGHT NOW!

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      Okami says:

      And before one of you lefty dictators decide to insult my intelligence

      That’s not likely to happen. You can, after all, only insult what’s there.

    • Psychopomp says:

      “And before one of you lefty dictators decide to insult my intelligence (I know you will because I’ve taken the anti-pro-gay stance) based off my fragmented, grammatical cluster fuck of a post, I’m dysgraphic.”

      Just noticed this

      I am dysgraphic, and I’m pretty sure you’ve mixed up dyslexic and dysgraphic.

  14. Psychopomp says:

    Frankly, I think they just need some nice yaoi.

  15. Lewis says:

    I think I’m almost as disturbed by the image Escapist chose to go alongside the piece. I mean, reinforcing stereotypes, much?

    Amusingly, I pitched a very single piece to Escapist for this issue. As in, a piece about Radiator and people’s responses to the homosexual relationship. They didn’t go for it, and I was mildly annoyed, as I thought it was a great idea. Seems they agreed, but rather sensibly, let the game’s creator talk about it instead. Very good.

  16. Sulkdodds says:

    Would my comment be deleted if I posted a big picture of a cock

    I feel like rubbing gay in someone’s face

    I’m not even gay

  17. Vinraith says:

    In games with no relationships/ sexuality obviously the gender preference of the main character is pretty irrelevant. In games that involve romance in one way or another, I almost always play a straight male (or rarely a lesbian female) because that’s the more appealing gender to me in real life. Playing a straight female or a gay male is fundamentally unappealing to me in that context. If that was the only option, and the game was primarily centered around a romantic relationship, it would certainly reduce my interest in playing said game. I suspect many gay males would be less interested in playing a game centered around romancing a female for similar reasons.
    All that said, I can’t imagine complaining about it. The guy made a game with a gay protagonist. That’s serving a seriously underserved niche in gaming, and while it may not be appealing to me personally I fail to see how it can be construed as anything other than a good thing. Variety and freedom are always positives, and I can only agree with other people here that there should be more diversity both in supporting characters and protagonist choices wherever possible.

  18. HYPERPOWER! says:

    I wouldn’t mind gays so much if they’d just stop bloody rubbing it in our faces.

    “Woo woo I’m gay, look at me I’m spectacular”

    And you’ve had this happen to you how often?

    I could count the number of times I’ve encountered someone who was very vocal and expressive about their homosexuality on my fingers. And I used to work in retail! S:

    On the other hand, the amount of macho dickheads – the other extreme of the scale – I have to deal with almost daily is stupefying.

  19. Earl_of_Josh says:

    Oh my god, he’s right. I’ll never enter the ocean again, Dolphin “rape caves” have now replaced “the mail-man” as my most horrific phobia.

    • phil says:

      I take it you’ve never seen the documentary about the murder chimps and the spider monkies?

  20. DJ Phantoon says:

    Well I’d be offended if my character turned out to be Hitler!

  21. Schwerpunk says:

    I’m just surprised no one has mentioned Metroid, or Samus Aran, yet. Here, we have a protagonist that all along we assumed was male (not that it’s ever stated), and when it is revealed at the end that you were playing as a female all along – whoa! /That’s/ awesome. To adapt Hoernchen’s analogy, it’s like paying for cock and getting pussy; and that somehow is better?
    I’m severely disappointed to see how some gamers responded to an even subtler change – sexuality, with revulsion, and even admission of feelings of betrayal. Get over yourselves, guys, would you feel betrayed if it turned out that Gordon Freeman went to Stanford instead of M.I.T.?

    I’m also reminded of the surprised people showed when it was revealed that Todd McFarlane’s Spawn was black. It was a pleasant surprise for most, as it challenged out preconceived notions of what a ‘hero’ usually is, and we were able to move along with the story from there.

    Why are some of us incapable of doing that here?

    Also, DJ Phantoon, was that an covert attempt at invoking Godwin’s Law? ;)

    • Babs says:

      Valve should totally reveal Gordon Freeman to be gay. Then you could have scenes with Alex looking all sad and pouty and when walking around town all the random people could be like:
      ‘That’s Gordon Freeman, the fag!’
      ‘Wow, Gordon Freeman! You look soooo fabulous!’

      And he could get it on with the G-man (G stand for Gay obviously).

    • Babs says:

      Actually, maybe not.

    • DXN says:

      Gordon Freeman is gay. Recall how often, and how insistently Barney offered to “buy him a beer” in HL1. How easily can we imagine slurred confessions in the back of the facility campus bar, the two men drawn back there again and again over the weeks and months, the only place they feel safe exploring their feelings for each other, their days spent gazing longingly but silently at each other over the chasm of rank and workplace decorum?

      Think about Alyx’s awkward expression after she hugs Gordon at the start of Ep. 1 – she knows what he meant by the way he drew back slightly, that stiff pat on the shoulder. And what meets Eli when he sits him down for a heart-to-heart, trying to nudge him into a relationship with his daughter? An incredibly long, awkward silence from Gordon. Even his name is quite clearly a reference to Wilberforce Humphries.

    • Terazeal says:

      Wait, why the heck would someone assume that Samus is male? Sure, the manual for the original game used male pronouns, but those can also act as gender-neutral pronouns(silly English language). Aside from that, there was reference to gender at all in that game.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      You would assume Samus is male because the armor has a masculine look to it, and because at that time you didn’t really see action games with female protagonists. Since then female action heroes have become more of a usual thing in games, and the armor seems to be styled to be a little bit more feminine in shape. But back then, Samus being a woman was a pretty big surprise.

  22. Risingson says:

    Now I feel useless. Two long answers for questions that have been beautifully nested up there :(

  23. Mal says:

    I disagree on the reinforcing stereotypes bit. The only thing that could be considered “gay” about the article’s presentation was the dudes’ purple clothing, and that’s a bit of a stretch.

  24. Bobsy says:

    Trying to think about gay characters in games, and the list is (obviously) pretty short. There was the Will & Grace analogue character in Farenheit/Indigo Prophecy, but his handling was iffy at best (from the same game that had chikka-chikka-bow-wow music accompanying the black character everywhere he goes).

    “Hi! I’m your non-threatening best friend from waaaay back who appears incongruously and only exists for this single, pointless scene. Oh, and by the way, I’m GAY and it’s REALLY TOUGH BEING GAY because I’m GAY. Bye now!”

    On the other hand I’m playing Assassin’s Creed for the second time at the moment. I’d completely forgotten that one of your targets was a fat gay leper. He’s the self-styled Merchant King of Damascus, and holds a party where he poisons all the great and good of the city for a lifetime of being ostracised by them. I remembered he was all bitter about having to hide away for having leperousy but not that he was gay. It actually makes him a remarkably sympathetic antagonist, more so than if he was just fat and ugly.

  25. Risingson says:

    I still see a really negative context there, though :/

    Negative in the same sense of that gay dramas where the gay character is condemned to be dead at the end of the movie.

  26. Dreamhacker says:

    I’m going to throw the elephant in the room out into the open:

    There is this tiny, itty-bitty chance that quite a few of the negative opinions about said mod were colored by RELIGION.

  27. Risingson says:

    Well, it’s the same: irrational thinking.

    Risingson and the oxymorons

  28. Mman says:

    I can’t say I’m shocked; from experience I know things like casual sexism are rampant enough in gaming discussion (“casual” referring to the fact that people don’t even know they are doing it in many cases). So I’m not surprised outrage flares up the moment something pops up that involves the slightest controversy.

  29. mister k says:

    I love rants about people shoving homosexuality in peoples faces. I’m not certain, but I do wonder if they mean certain extremely camp comedians they have watched on tv. Such people usually have an ignorance of history, and certainly an ignorance of the concept of privelege. But, having said that, I spouted nonsense ravings about homosexual people being ok if they were just more subtle and feminists going too far… then I grew up.

  30. kulak says:

    I’m loving how metropolitan and liberal the RPS audience seems to be (excluding the homophobes).

    • Sparvy says:

      Yeah, but that is always the problem isn’t it. There always have to be a few that destroys all the love.

      It just makes me depressed.

    • TimRandall says:

      I’m just grateful that teh stupid seems to all be concentrated in just a few posters.

      Where is biological selection when you need it?

    • Nezz says:

      They are young. Time cures many delusions.

    • Psychopomp says:

      And the sore bum, after said curing.

    • Dreamhacker says:

      Goes with the region. (Yes Virginia, RPS is a European site)

  31. Cooper says:

    I can’t find any other response to this in me other than to groan. I mean, it hadn’t even occured to me that the sexual content of the game would be an issue. Until it gets pointed out that it is for some. And – of course – I get reminded (as if I’d ever forget for one moment) that the world is still full of idiots.

  32. Starky says:

    I’ve not played this game/mod so I can’t comment specifically about it but there’s a difference between homophobia and preference.

    If I was playing a game as a male character that turned out to be gay but otherwise had no impact on the game, that wouldn’t bother me at all. That said, I have to admit it would begin to bother me if I had to play out a romantic scenario with another male character – depending on the level of depth involved.
    It would make me uncomfortable, and I’d not want to play that – games, especially things like roleplaying games you often invest yourself into the character, and no one likes to be tricked into something that makes them uncomfortable.

    That would be the only part that I’d object too, playing a game that half way through forced you to play out a homosexual romance to continue in the game.

    It depends on the situation, if I’m playing a game that invites you to become the character, make the choices and invest personality yourself and then suddenly forces/reveals that your character is gay… Using mass effect as an example, if you got half way though as a male character and the game suddenly made your character gay, and this had significant impact on the game (flirty lines with male characters, so on), I’d be bothered by that, would it be enough to make me stop playing? Honestly I’m not sure, maybe.
    On the flip side, it would not bother me one little bit if upon the creation of a male character in Masseffect (or at any time in a options screen) you could select the sexuality of the character and then that would influence the conversation options in game.
    I’m all for giving people the option of playing a gay male Shepard, so long as I don’t have too if I don’t want too.

    It’s the gaming equivalent of seeing 2 men kissing in public – utterly fine. Compared to having another man hitting on you.

    All that said, I’m wondering if I was playing a game like Grand Theft Auto 4, where the character you play is clearly a character, not someone you invest yourself into at all, just someone you control.

    Would it bother me if Nico Bellic was gay?

    I’m forced to answer, maybe. Probably not if it as just an aspect of his character that had no effect on gameplay. Still, I think it might if I had to start doing dating missions, going to gay strip clubs and so on.

    It’s hard to say for sure, it depends on the context and depth, how the game handles it, for that matter how any media handles it.
    I can happily watch a movie or TV shows with gay characters, I can happily watch Will and Grace (hell I actually really like W&G), but shows like Queer as folk (even though I still watched it, for it was otherwise excellent) the softcore gay sex did make me uncomfortable.

    If that makes me a homophobe in some peoples eyes, so be it.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Isn’t art supposed to challenge you in some way, though?

    • phil says:

      I believe the sex scenes in the UK version of Queer as Folk were deliberately designed to challenge and provoke distate – hence the whole 15 year old boy/older man strongly implied rimming in the first episode (an act most would consider distateful, not to mention illegal, if a hetro couple performed it.) The scene itself was funny and playful but it nicely encapsulated show’s intention to provoke, this game seems considerable more circumspect.

    • Starky says:

      Perhaps, but I seriously doubt any amount of challenge is going to change my hard wired preference. I can hug my gay friends and that’s fine, but I find roleplaying a gay man uncomfortable, same way as I find watching gay sex uncomfortable.

      Just to be clear there are lots of things I find uncomfortable, watching any kind of sex on TV/Film with my parents ranks up there (even though I’m almost 28 years old) with watching homosexual sex.

      It’s not that I find it disgusting, it doesn’t make me angry, I’m not one to start ranting on internet forums about it, demanding it not be shown. I’ll simply avoid it if I can – sometimes, as I mentioned with Queer as folk, the quality of the program is enough that I’ll suffer that discomfort.

      Do gay men not get that same discomfort watching heterosexual sex, or maybe lesbian sex?

      Again, if the game is subtle with the sexuality or gives you a choice, I’ve no issue with it.
      If it doesn’t give you a choice, and is overt to a degree that effects my enjoyment of the game – I’ll simply not play it. Just as with gay romance novels, or gay romance films, I’ll simply choose not to watch them. I don’t begrudge those who enjoy them doing so, or their existence.

    • Dante says:

      “Would it bother me if Nico Bellic was gay?”

      It would probably bother a lot of people, first and foremost being gays themselves, given Rockstar’s immature treatment of them.

      Lest we forget, GTA4 contains a gay character, who is portrayed as a screaming queen despite the fact that he used to be in the Serbian bloody army.

  33. Nalano says:

    You people suck at roleplaying.

    Buff, juicing man-mountain stuffed into power armor with improbable skills at stoving people’s heads in? Easy as pie.

    Svelte, lithe ballerina that can do everything the Space Marine can? No problemo!

    Incidentally gay man? WHOA, DUDE, I DUNNO IF I CAN GET IN CHARACTER, HERE.

    Reminds me of all those guys playing MMOs where they’ll play a female character only if they can RP them as lesbian nymphomaniacs.

    • mpk says:

      Angry Internets Man: trying to take the “gay” out of “gamers” since 1745.

  34. Bagalot says:

    I don’t think it was pijama’s point that we shouldn’t worry about homophobia because it doesn’t actually hurt anything, but rather that being anti-homosexual is a ridiculous reaction, as it doesn’t make you any straighter and it isn’t going to make anyone else decide to be straight who isn’t, which is largely the subconscious reason why homophobic dudes act so anti-gay things.

  35. Spliter says:

    Making the player think he was straight all the time and then revealing he’s gay:
    Total ownage by the mod author :)
    really a butt-rape with no lube XD
    Seeing a strong reaction like that isn’t that incomprehensible, people don’t like being someone they don’t feel comfortable being (and most men feel that being attracted by another men is a reason to be ashamed of oneself [you might say to your gay friend it's ok but you still feel somehow uncomfortable about it]), so I can’t really accuse that commenter of anything.
    Funny thing is that most men aren’t that taken aback by playing as a female that likes men, or a female that likes women!
    On a side note:I don’t really believe in homophobia, people aren’t afraid of the gay community, they’re just taken aback by them (it’s like accusing someone to have a gut-phobia because the person is disgusted by the look of spilled out guts).

    • Ergates says:

      Homophobia doesn’t actually mean fear of homosexuals, in the same way the haemophilia isn’t love of blood.

    • Phydaux says:

      Indeed, a phobia can also be hatred or dislike.

  36. Phydaux says:

    Call of Juarez had a Mexican protagonist.

    • Phydaux says:

      This was supposed to be a reply to another post, don’t really understand why it’s here, and I can’t edit it. Ho hum.

  37. Raphael says:

    Really, what’s so wrong about dressing flamboyantly?

  38. Alikchi says:

    Speaking as a gay gamer – you try playing a few rounds of Left 4 Dead without someone calling someone else a f*ggot. It’s pretty disgusting, there’s no excuse for it, and it shames the gaming community. You start throwing homophobia around, you’ve instantly lost all respect from decent people.

    • Spliter says:

      Would you get over yourself??
      Damn, calling someone gay or faggot is the oldest insult on the internet, it isn’t against gay people, it has nothing to do with sexuality, it’s only another way of saying “you’re a d**khead” but it’s faster because normally you use only 3 letters, and playing l4d you don’t have much time to write or to think what you need to say.
      It got taken in as a general insult. I would hate if someone told me what I can or can’t call other people.

    • AndrewC says:

      And what term of insult, Spliter, would you give to someone completely incapable of recognising how their behaviour affects other people while being incredibly quick to get offended when they feel somone else’s behaviour is affecting them?

    • Dominic White says:

      You – yes, YOU, and only you, personally, are the reason why the internet is a pain to wade through sometimes.

      Not just people like you, but YOU, and the clones that you have asexually spawned.

    • Dominic White says:

      Note that my comment was aimed at Spliter, obviously.

    • William says:

      I was sort of with Splitter as far as ‘gay’, but ‘faggot’ is a different story. For a start its not all that concise, its much nastier and when I say something is ‘gay’ I’m just regressing to chidlishness. But then he came across as a bit of a twat (There you go AndyC :P).

      I’ll confess I do call a lot of things gay and probably will do until I die; “Omg the sniper rifle is so gay’ or after being smashed off a roof by a tank ‘well, that was pretty gay’.

    • Nalano says:

      Yeah, spliter, and nig is just an easy three-letter way of saying lazy. Casual bigotry is still bigotry.

    • Ergates says:

      Splitter: So using “Gay” or “Faggot” as an insult isn’t “against” gays? What exactly would lead you to draw that conclusion?

      Insults work by associating someone with something bad: “You’re shit”, “You smell” etc. Therefore when you use “Gay” as an insult you are implying that being gay is a bad thing. Otherwise it wouldn’t be an insult. Do you see?

    • Spliter says:

      (thanks for feeding the troll I’m full now)
      to anyone that responded to me: Being gay is okay as far as I’m concerned, I don’t have anything against that people apart from the fact that near them I can’t call other people gay or they’ll get terribly upset.
      That’s the thing! Everyone’s a bit racist! It’s not bad it’s a good thing, it helps us mantain our cultures! I don’t scold people when someone else calls someone a jew, even though I don’t like it I already accepted that as <>. If someone insults you just ignore him because that person is probably not worth your attention, and that’s all I’m asking of the gay community.

    • Terazeal says:

      It’s funny cause he’s ageist.

    • Sky Jack says:

      The vast majority of males are heterosexual, and it is damaging to their pride to be called “faggot” or “gay.” Most people understand this.

      I do not for one moment believe that males over, say, 25 suddenly develop tolerance for homosexuals and therefore stop using “gay” as an insult. They simply move on to more sophisticated taunts. I mean, anybody can shout “faggot” at anyone. It’s better to call someone “grandma” or imply that he wears panties.

  39. Premium User Badge

    oceanclub says:

    At first I honestly thought “Andy” was being ironic and I was waiting for the humorous payoff. It’s amazing to think that in the year 2009, there are still people who are angry homophobes – who literally get as angry as a L4D2 boycotter if they even think suspect someone near them is gay or “dressing flamboyantly” (honestly, I really thought he was taking the piss when he said that).

    Attitudes have changed spectacularly over the last decade or so (in Ireland, a country which only legalised homosexuality in 1994, a conservative government is bringing in civil partnerships); you might still hear fundamentalist Christians railing against gays, but even they tend to be of the more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger-love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin variety. So its both unsettling and funny in a weird way to stumble across someone who appears to walk through the streets at the weekend seething to themselves “look at all dem bummers TAUNTING me with their nice clothes”.

    P.

  40. The Colonel says:

    Wow. I don’t understand why anyone would want to justify using immature, insulting and deeply damaging language. If you use it and don’t mean anything by it, fine, maybe. But to act as if you are holding the high moral ground over people who object to its use makes me angry. If you’ve thought about the effect that such language could have and still continue to use it then you are an insensitive prick in my eyes. The only real advantage that I can see of such language being used is that it makes it easier to see when someone has failed to mature beyond 14 years old. It wouldn’t matter if there wasn’t a 2000 year history of persecution exacerbated by this attitude. Just say “scouse” whenever someone’s annoyed you and no-one will want to kill themselves.

  41. The Colonel says:

    Unintentional racism is, indeed, widespread and common, but it is in no way a "good thing". Racism is not the same thing as thinking your country is better than another country. Calling someone a Jew is, I hope, a joke playing on the obvious outrageousness of explicit racism. The use of gay as an insult is rarely ironic, and often not intended as a joke in the same sense as calling someone a Jew. It isn't necessarily a big issue, but every now and again there's a kid who is so stimatised by other kids implying their natural state and identity is an abomination, or a joke, or something worthy of no more than an insult that it does real damage. Is it really that much to sacrifice to use a different word?

    • Spliter says:

      My point was that we often don’t think about what we say, we say it quickly, we say it when we’re angry. But it lets us release our emotions once in a while (which is often what we do when we play fast paced action games). I don’t mind people calling me names or insulting me if it’s because of a moment of anger or some other strong emotion. What I can’t tolerate is when someone holds a lifetime hatred for a person because of an insult!
      In my uni everyone calls everyone what they want and no one gets angry, on the contrary it helps us dissolve the unneeded walls of etiquette.
      I’m not against homosexuals, people of different races, cultures,religions, different number of toes or operating system preference, I’m against those that get angry over simple WORDS, and not even words of hatred but of a rush of adrenaline, you know, sticks and stones.

      One thing is persecution, which I’m against; it’s bad, it hurts people, and it should be forbidden in most cases (few of them are actually purposeful and even those few could be solved by other means), what I’m defending is “fogive and forget”.

  42. Klaus says:

    I’m not sure how much this pertains to me anyhow, the only place where I usually leave my civility at the door is 4chan. But in regards to offensive language, my approach has always been a dose of ‘do unto to others.’ If I want people people to cease calling me slurs, I’d have to curb my own colorful language. I am unwilling to do that, so I place no ‘restraint’ on others language.

    Re: The article. I can’t say I’ve played, or at least remembered playing any gay protagonists. I remember playing a romance mod for Baldur’s Gate 2(?) called Nathaniel or some such. I quit part way through. But that was because I grew to strongly dislike him.

  43. The Colonel says:

    It's not a matter of forgiving and forgetting. In my experience when people are angry and not thinking about what they're saying, they say "worse" insults than "gay". "Gay" is used as a casual insult as much as it is a hot-blooded instinct response.

    Words are important because they contain within them the attitudes towards other things. It's an obvious and over-used example, but the word "nigger" means nothing other than "black" in literal terms. In the context of it being used to mean black people are inferior to white people for over a hundred years, it takes on a connotation and meaning beyond the literal one. That is what has happened to the word "gay". If you use it in a derogatory way, you are sending out a message, WHATEVER you intend by the word. Most people in a University context appreciate your usage of the word, but in general society it is safer to use a different one.

  44. everypiece says:

    Going by the usual timeline of these things, I would expect the trans-friendly language in 2029…

    • everypiece says:

      Bah! My comment was supposed to be nested to something much futher up the page. Now it doesn’t make any sense!

  45. Sky Jack says:

    This is nothing more than a case of a troll shouting, “Gotcha!” A self-righteous, politically leftwing, pseudo-intellectual troll at that. A total douche.

  46. Hug_dealer says:

    which is worse? Calling someone Gay(the socially accepted term for a male homosexual), or a sally(a term used when you call them a woman).

    To me, there is no difference, niether is actual hate speech.

  47. Serenegoose says:

    @everypiece: Yeah, tell me about it. It's with real pain that I read the other articles on the issue and hear 'tranny' flung around like it's an acceptable term now.

    @Hug Dealer: Are you gay or female? Because there's this weird thing where people -outside- don't get a say on what's offensive/hateful to said communities (because the stupidity of that is self-evident. See white people declaring that black people shouldn't get worked up about being called 'nigger' because it's not that bad). Calling someone gay might not be on the same level as calling them a frilly-knickered flaming poofter, but you're still establishing that to be gay -is insulting-. Similarly, insults based on someones genital status indicate that you think it is insulting to insinuate that someone has a vagina. It might be an insult that is considered mild on the scale of insults, but it is an insult that -only exists- because of meaningless bigotry. Just because it's mild doesn't change that. That's why you don't get the same wealth of insults about being white, male, and middle class.

    • Sky Jack says:

      You know what? Let’s just ban ALL insults, because they’re insulting to some people. Then we can all be happen, you disgusting little girl.

    • Klaus says:

      Nice straw-man. He wasn’t talking about banning ALL insults. I do think people need to grow thicker skin, but there isn’t a need to be hyperbolic.

  48. Premium User Badge

    Vandelay says:

    "This is nothing more than a case of a troll shouting, “Gotcha!” A self-righteous, politically leftwing, pseudo-intellectual troll at that. A total douche."
    What? Have you played the mod? There was no "Gotcha!" moment at all. It was pretty clear that it was a gay relationship for the most part of the mod. He is responding to people who came away from the mod and said that they would prefer it if the characters hadn't of been gay. Because apparently putting themselves in the shoes of big muscle bound gun totting mad men (homoerotic much) is fine, but playing a gay guy is a big no no. Makes you wonder if some of them might be a tad insecure.

  49. The Colonel says:

    NB: Jokes and insults are not synonymous

  50. Hug_dealer says:

    You can turn anything into an insult. i have gay friends, i have girl friends, i have all kinds of friends. I call the jocks meatheads, and make fun of thier jockish ways, the same way i call out my gay friends for thier flaming ways, and they would be the first to admit its all true. I get called out on my nerdish tendancies cause i play video games. so be it. Nothing wrong with razzing people.

    Call me a bigot if you like, i dont care. Tell that to the 2 gay guys who will be standing up with me at my wedding soon.

    An insult is only harmful when you give the words power.

    • Klaus says:

      Heh. I wonder when the ‘I can’t be racist! I have black friends’ excuse will go outta style.

      An insult is only harmful when you give the words power.
      That’s about as useful as telling a child ‘sticks and stones.’ It’s easy to defend against hypothetical or imagined attacks, but when it’s in your face and you are understanding the earnest fervor it is being uttered with, I imagine it’s a different thing. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t react or care if I were called a nigger, I can’t be totally sure because- to my knowledge -I have never been the target of actual bigotry.

      And watching many troll raids, I think I can safely disagree with such a claim. I’ve seen many a fellow make such a claim only to quickly relent and swear eternal vengeance of swift and brutal litigation.

    • Railick says:

      I’m a white dude, however I work on the phone for telephone companies. Once I was talking to a customer and for whatever reason I upset him and he started slinging racist slang at me calling me the N word and a lot of other stuff I’d never heard before. I’m not a black guy , I can’t imagine what it feels like to be a black person and have the same things said to you. However I can tell you that it made me feel horrible, like I was sub human like for some reason this guy on the phone was better than me (Or thought he was) It made my stomach burn and made me feel very angry, was shaking afterwards. (it only made it worse that I was actaully correct in what I’d said and he was ignorant and wrong)

      THe guy sitting next to me noticed I was shaking and I told him what had happened. He happened to be a older black guy who I’d made friends with very quickly at my new job and he’d been doing that kind of work for a long time. He laughed at me and said “HAH! Now you know how it feels!” For whatever reason that actaully made me feel better. Since then I’ve had that same thing slung at me several times over the phone and I always feel the same way. I dunno if it is the tone of my voice or if it is just the people on the other end imaging that I must be black because I don’t agree with them I have no idea but It feels horrible to be on the other end of a racial slur even if you aren’t the race in question! It is far from true that words can never hurt you. They may injury you directly but they can cause emotional damage (I also know this from years of being verbally abused by my father) that can inturn indeed cause physical problems as well.