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A gay gamer's opinion on homosexuality in videogames


[SPOILER ALERT -- This post includes minor Persona 4 spoilers.]

After reading Colette's news post about EA's panel on homophobia in games, I got inspired to write about my own opinion on the subject.

What exactly is it that makes some people so up tight about homosexuality? Is it the human species' natural fear of anything different, or is it something that is learned when growing up? Could it just be the fact that men and women being together has always been the "right thing to do", a mix of all the above or something completely different?

Sure, today is a lot better than it used to be for the gay community, at least you won't get killed for kissing another guy in public anymore, but we still have quite ways to go before homosexuals have equal rights, and the first step is to address these types of things in the media. Take videogames for example, if developers would just put the the option to play as a gay character in a game, that would help a lot. This would work great especially for sandbox games like GTA, or RPGs like Mass Effect or the Final Fantasy series.

Actually, this is sort of already happening with Rockstar's announcement of GTA IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony DLC, supposedly being released this fall. Pretty much all we know so far is that you play as a guy named Luis Lopez, and you work for the "legendary nightclub impresario Tony Prince (aka "Gay Tony")". We haven't even seen a trailer yet, so for all we know the game could totally push forward acceptance of homosexuality in games, or be totally distasteful and push it back a couple miles.

During research, I stumbled across an interview with Chris Vizzini, the creator of gaymer.org, and he said the main reason he started up the site was because of frustration while playing on Xbox Live. With constantly hearing homophobic slurs like 'faggot' and stuff like that, it can get pretty frustrating, and it can feel really lonely. He thought there must be other gamers out there like him, so he started up his site, and it now has thousands of visitors a month.

Take RPGs for example, there usually is a love story right there in the open, but almost all of the time it is between a man and a woman. It just makes sense to have a straight relationship in a game, because most gamers are, well, straight. With the multi-millilion dollar budgets that games have these days, financially it's not really the best idea to put a homosexual relationship as a main story line in a game, potentially alienating a large portion of the game's audience.

Some devs do it right, for example in Persona 4, it really surprised me when it came time to rescue the big masculine bully Kanji Tatsumi from the tv world. For anyone that doesn't know, when a character get kidnapped into the tv world, the character's true emotions come through and it turned out that Kanji is actually like, flamingly gay.

But it turns out that you never actually find out Kanji's actual sexuality, once you rescue him and take him back to the real world, he just turns back into violent old Kanji. Some people say that he actually is a closet homosexual, others say it was just his way of rebelling against himself or something, but it's all open for interpreation.(For more information, Dtoid community member Superflossy wrote an article on Kanji over at Gamesutra.)

I'm not gonna lie, it can be pretty saddening being a gamer in today's times. There are quite a few hardcore gay gamers out there, and we love the medium just as much as the next person, and we just want videogame storytelling to live up to it's full potential.

I'm pretty sure that the majority of the Destructoid Community is not gay, but I would really like to hear your opinions on this subject. Would you be interested in playing a game with a gay relationship involved, or would that gross you out?
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About garisonone of us since 5:09 PM on 02.20.2008

Hey, I'm Gary, but you can call me garison. I enjoy playing videogames, collecting videogames, reading about videogames, and writing about videogames.


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Bit.Trip Beat
Bit.Trip Core
Mother 3
PixelJunk Shooter
Pop'n Music series
Professor Layton and the Curious Villiage
Rhythm Heaven
Shadow of the Colossus
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3: FES
Super Mario Galaxy
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