IGN: Why We Need More Gay Characters

IGN: Why We Need More Gay Characters

Here is a link to a great piece by Luke Karmali of IGN about the lack of gay characters in video games. While he does note that representation and inclusion are up considerably in the last few years (mostly in part due to western studios such as Bioware and Naughty Dog), it is still an uphill battle to get proper and adequate representation for the LGBT community in gaming.

"Gone Home" is one the few games to feature a LGBT relationship.
“Gone Home” is one the few games to feature a LGBT relationship.

Growing up is hard. Growing up in a world where you find it nigh on impossible to catch sight of someone you can relate to is harder. The inclusion of gay characters in games leads some to believe that one day there will be no heterosexual characters they can choose to play as, that this is a slippery slope that will inevitably cause entire entries in popular franchises to be populated exclusively by LGBT characters. Such a premise is ludicrous. It’s also the exact reverse of what’s facing young lesbian, gay, bisexual and especially transgender gamers – who are represented even more poorly still – in most titles today.

I won’t say much more about the article, as the author has already said everything much more elegantly than I could ever, so please take some time and give the article a read.  For more articles about the LGBT Community and Gaming, check out these articles:

Can Video Games Alleviate LGBT Bullying

Kickstarter for Documentary about LGBT Community in Games 

Can Video Games Alleviate LGBT Anti-Bullying?

Can Video Games Alleviate LGBT Anti-Bullying?

Short answer: Kind of, but not quite.

This article explores how video games may be a “cure” anti-LBGT bullying. It questions whether video games as stress relievers can have help bullied LBGT gamers cope. That’s..kind of a claim?  The article ties stress relief as an method for coping with bullying, but I have to ask: isn’t that only treating the symptoms?

But don’t take it from me:

“I have been bullied quite a bit up until I reached the end of high school,” says Matt Conn, cofounder of Gaymer X, an LBGT gaming conference happening this August in San Francisco. “I wished I could have just been myself and honest about being a queer geek. … Games were my only escape for me. They allowed me to live in another world … having a team with me as we stormed Booster’s Castle in Super Mario RPG or defeating the evil Porky in Earthbound … really was magical.”

Video games certainly have stress relieving qualities (Have you played Flowers? SERENITY), and wanting to get into another state of mind is certainly a viable option for anyone having a hard day.

thheee sttressss juussssttt meeellltttssss

But I have to ask: Are video games any more stress relieving than other mediums? Books? Tv? The internet? The article isn’t claiming they are, but it’s not asking the question either. In fact, as the article points out video game communities and multiplayer games are often riddled with homophobic comments and bullying as well. These certainly aren’t issues in the other mediums mentioned, or at least not as prevalent.

Likewise, the article questions if video games can “cure” Anti-Bullying without really talking about changing the mindset of those doing the bullying. That’s….hard to do. But that’s not to subtract from what they do: Video games allow for LBGT youths to escape for a moment, and that’s certainly something positive.

With   number of LBGT gamers  in the video game community making a place for themselves more and more LBGT youths have outlets to be and express themselves on the internet and in games. In time, perhaps Video games may be able to change the mindset of people taking part in bullying of LGBT, but unfortunately it’s a slow uphill march towards acceptance.