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. The Colonel says:

    The issue isn't using insults as a joke, especially when it's with/to your friends.

  2. Railick says:

    One of my very best friends is an over weight black gay man who is balding. I was sitting there one day at work with him and I said "You do realize that you're like, every minority rolled into one?" and he said "What?" and I said "No offense, but you're gay, black , over weight, and bald. I can't imagine what I could throw in there to make you any more decimated against" and he said "Yah, you're right!" And we both had a good laugh about it.

    Even having said that I would /never/ call him ANY of the words above even in a joking manner (although I have called him flaming before but he openly admits to that. I wouldn't do it if he weren't constantly hitting on me) Maybe if I knew him a lot better I would feel more comfortable using some more aggresive speech against him if I knew he thought that kind of thing was funny but I'd never do it just randomly.

    You can say people should grow thicker skin but that is up to the person not you. What you think is a mild joke or some harmless words could be the straw that broke the camels back for the other person and really hurt their feelings,lower their feeling of self worth. Who knows you may be the one that convinces some dude to go off and kill himself. You never know, you can't know. It is best NOT to insult people and keep your feelings to yourself even if you don't agree with their life style. I don't agree with my friends life style choice but I don't hold it against him, it just isn't something I would choose for myself. I more than happy that he lives in a country where he is free to choose his own way and I am happy to have him as a friend. ( I just wish he'd stop hitting on me!)

  3. Premium User Badge

    solipsistnation says:

    The Colonel said:
    The issue isn't using insults as a joke, especially when it's with/to your friends.

    On some level, though, it is.

    In fact, it's more than that– if "gay" (which is a simple description of a person; "you are white. you are a man. you are gay.") is used as an insult EVER it diminishes the validity of being gay everywhere. "Dude, that's so gay" is just as bad if it's between friends as it is between enemies or acquaintances or whatever. It emphasizes that there is a difference and that the difference is question is BAD– it's something that should be pointed out and labelled!

    I had friends in high school who used "Jew" as an insult– like, "Man, you are SUCH a Jew!" and "That's so Jewish!" to refer to, well, I'm not really sure. It wasn't even the sort of stereotypical things people insult Jews over like, I dunno– being stingy, having big noses (Yeah, I've seen Nazi propaganda pamphlets. ick.). It was just a thing they called people. Imagine if that was what all the CounterStrike losers called each other– "LOL JEW LOL." "PWNED JEW." etc. Is that acceptable?

    If it isn't, then why is "LOL FAG LOL" okay?

    • MD says:

      Well said, solipsistnation. Unfortunately there are a frightening number of people who would answer ‘yes’ to your rhetorical question on the acceptibility of using ‘Jew’ as an insult. And the CS kids *are* doing it, or at least they were the last time I played. I think it might have begun as a supposedly ironic thing, and then spread like a virus to the armies of mindless youngsters and not-so-youngsters who aren’t happy unless their insult of choice is edgy and shocking, and hey if it spits on the memory of the worst atrocity in the history of humanity, that can only be a bonus right?

  4. Hug_dealer says:

    Guess im a racist bigot then. better let my friends know.
    I can understand where you guys are coming from, and i know what you are saying.
    the insults only hurt when you give them power is a comment for those talking about every the kids on the net just randomly talking smack. Getting offended is a little silly.

    • Klaus says:

      I don’t believe anyone called you a bigot or a racist. I am not against you saying whatever you like, I was just challenging your ‘words are just words’ claim. I frequently make use of all sorts of offensive slurs and terms (in ‘proper places’) but I do not pretend it’s ok or tell people to man up.

      So yes, I recognize certain words hurt feelings. I recognize that people have a right to those feelings. I just place my ‘right’ to say those aforementioned words above their feelings without diminishing others of that same ‘right.’ And I recognize I may in fact just be an uncouth jerk.

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    solipsistnation says:

    Anonymous Coward said:
    Well said, solipsistnation. Unfortunately there are a frightening number of people who would answer ‘yes’ to your rhetorical question on the acceptibility of using ‘Jew’ as an insult. And the CS kids *are* doing it, or at least they were the last time I played.

    Ah. Classy. I didn't know that because, honestly, I can't stand playing online with people I don't know, for basically that sort of reason.

  6. The Colonel says:

    Yeah ok I concede that point. I meant to say that if it's a joke made in the context of friends, then (presumably) it would be playing on the absurdness of using "gay" as an insult and sending out a very different message to the term used abusively about someone.

    Regarding your point about Jew as an insult/joke, I'm not sure I really know where I stand. The real difference about "gay" is that it sits in the context of a society which was until recently actively and legislatively anti-gay. I would expect that there are unlikely to be many people in England suffering particularly for being Jewish.

    I think the big problem with "gay" is that rather than being a joke playing on the outrageousness of the statement, as most of the time "Jews" is, it's just become a widely used synonym for "shit" et al.

    Change my mind?

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