GayGamer Editor Talks About Bully Controversy & Gay Characters in Games

November 9, 2006 -
Protagonist Jimmy Hopkins can kiss several male characters in Rockstar's Bully.

Maybe you heard?

The smooching story was broken by GayGamer and editor Flynn DeMarco. AfterElton, a gay-oriented site, has an interview with DeMarco about the Bully brouhaha. In a Q&A format, DeMarco tells how he discovered the kissing scenes and talks about gay themes in other games.
Florian Eckhardt [of Kotaku] posted an earlier review of it from GameBrink which mentioned that “you can kiss girls and some guys,” but that’s all. I got a copy of it myself, and with a group of friends we played until 11 p.m. at night, and we discovered that yes, you can kiss guys in the game.

Asked about other games with gay content, DeMarco said:
It’s hard to say whether it was Fable or The Sims. I got The Sims strictly for [the gay content]. I got bored [laughs]. You get married, have kids and a white picket fence... In a sense, The Sims really was one of the first advocates for gay marriage and adoption, because they were included in the game and treated just the same as heterosexual pairings and parenting.

How does DeMarco and GayGamer deal with accusations about having a "gay agenda"?
Gaming is mostly geared to the straight white male. What [the accusers] don’t understand is that mindset is built into the games. I find it ridiculous to be accused of that. I don’t feel like I am forcing any agenda. I’m really just saying that “hey, there’s something of interest to gays here as well as all this other stuff.”

The response (to GayGamer) has been overwhelmingly positive, and I’m very proud to say that we have a good portion of our regular readers who are straight. Of course there have been the homophobes and haters, but they are far outnumbered by the positive responses.

On openly gay characters in games:
We sort of have one with Makoto in Enchanted Arms; however, the voice actor went over the top with him and made him über, über, über gay. It got on my nerves...

In Wild Arms, there is a character who has a boyfriend that is in a coma. He spends the game pining for him. The U.S. version doesn’t give any hints to their relationship... but in the Japanese version, it is made explicitly clear.

Unfortunately, if a company did [release a game with an openly gay character] they would lose money, or at least that’s the thinking. I am making it my duty to make sure that companies know that there is an audience that will buy games with gay content. I’d like to see it happen, but I don’t know if [a gay character] will ever make it to lead status.

Comments

I don't see the reason why anyone would care about the sexual orientation of a character in a video game. If it's an open game where the user controls the game then do whatever the hell you want - However with a linear story game it's whatever the developers wants, it's their vision and their story that they want to tell. They shouldn't have to feel obligated to create a specific character in their story just so that they don't offend someone. If there's a gay person in it, cool, go nuts! If not? Cool, go nuts some more. Unless it's a game about sex or relationships specifically, the sexual orientation/race/sex of the character should draw no more attention to the video game than the icon of the selection cursor does.

Darn it I wanted to say my numbers are off (20-30%) but the way everything pans out it gives a appearance of it.
sorry...my thoughts are not finishing them selfs today...least they are not wondering off and talking to the other voices in my head...

Yoshiko
YOur not from the states are you? Gays are a hated "uderclass" to the point where about 20-30% of the country really hates them thus giveing them no end of greif,I have been lax on my studies of japan and asia basically if gays are not the main hated underclass then susbtatue thos the country/area dislikes.

-----
On a side note been watching some RIght leaning pundaut TV almsot cried when GLen beck and the person he was interviewing both agreed on that Christianity needs to go back to leading by example of deeds not its hollow and pompus words and actions that has decimated it the last 20ish years.

I think freeform games (GTA, Bully, Fable, MMOs with a more story-based edge, etc.) should have homosexual options if there are any user-controllable relationships involved. That's kind of the point of the freeform genre; you do whatever you feel like doing. If my male character has a selection of people they can woo and fall in love with, then why should they all be of the opposite sex? It just means recording a few extra lines of dialogue to get around the pronoun issue.

Linear story-based games are generally going to have heterosexual male characters to appeal to the main demographic, but there's nothing particularly wrong with experimenting a bit. I played Final Fantasy VIII without caring one iota about that stupid Rinoa woman, and so to be honest the game wouldn't have had any different meaning if I had been chasing a guy instead*. I don't see the difficulty in delevoping an emotional attachment to a central gay character any more than I do playing a woman or animal.

On the other hand, look at ourselves a moment. You don't tend to see it on this site, but gamers in general are not the most open-minded of people. Not everyone has managed to grasp the idea that girls play games. In any online gaming session you're never more then a minute away from hearin someone say "gay" as an insult. We need more openly gay characters in games, but it's going to be a long time before it's just accepted as another possible character type.

(*Though I still would've preferred Fuujin.)

Well, of course Flynn isn't pushing the gay agenda. I've been going to meetings for years, and not once have I seen him. (kidding)

But agreed with all that's been said so far. It is a shame that game developers and publishers (though it's to be expected of evil publishers) feel that putting a gay character in their games, much less having them be central to the plot, would hurt their games commercially (GTA: SA would've been awesome if CJ could've been gay). But I'd have to say that, unfortunately their fears seem founded, I've seen enough conscious and unconscious homophobia and misogynist from the mainstream gamer community to make my stomach turn three full revolutions and start oscillating like a propeller. ;.;

Why "Gaygamer"? Is the Gay agenda just to waste my freaking time? I mean, "Gaymer" is just that much shorter and I think people get it.

Anyways, to me it doesn't matter what someone's sexual preference is as long as I can pwn them. :)

I agree with DeMarco that an openly gay video game protagonist will have trouble making it into the spotlight because I think, and this is just speculation on my part, that in general homosexuals will be perfectly willing to purchase a game with a heterosexual main character, but the percentage of hetero gamers who would buy a game with a gay main character is a lot smaller (mainly talking about the guys). In other words, such a venture would be looked at as a profit risk. Granted, there are some exceptions (I had no problem playing the Fear Effect series), but to be honest, I don't think I'd plunk down $50-$60 to play as a gay fella. And I don't mean something open-ended like Fable, I mean a game when it's been established before you even open the case.

Hopefully I didn't come off sounding bad, I tried to choose my words carefully so as not to offend.

I think some people are confusing games about being gay with games whos characters happe to be noticeably gay.

Its true that few none-gay people will want to buy the former, but the impact on the latter should be insignficant.

Why hasn't KN commented yet?

Well, considering the performance of such things as Brokeback mountain, it's not really video games that have a long way to go, it's society. This is a common theme throughout media, unless homosexuals are represented as extremely camp and effeminate, they are not accepted into the mainstream media.

In other words, Media doesn't like homosexuals, what it likes is the stereotype of a homosexual.

Unfortunately, if a company did [release a game with an openly gay character] they would lose money, or at least that’s the thinking.
We need a Dog Day Afternoon.

KN has gotta be saving up something good, you know he's got something under his hat on this one. I wonder though, can game makers get ass-raped by GLAAD the same way film makers can? That may have a helping hand in discouraging people from making homosexual characters.

KN, speak up, we wanna hear from ya on this buuuuddy.

"Unfortunately, if a company did [release a game with an openly gay character] they would lose money, or at least that’s the thinking. I am making it my duty to make sure that companies know that there is an audience that will buy games with gay content. I’d like to see it happen, but I don’t know if [a gay character] will ever make it to lead status."

There's a double quandary there for developers, really. If they stick with writer's description of a "straight while male" focus, they can be accused of ignoring the gay gaming population or sticking to the dominance of heterosexuality, and yet if they did make a game with an openly gay lead character, what are the chances they'd then be accused of exploiting homosexuality as a gimmick or for controversy's sake?

It really is a tough one. I'm not sure Western society in general has accepted homosexuality as 'okay' and 'normal' enough not to sit up and forcibly take note when it's brought to the fore. Hopefully we'll get to the point one day where people will just accept it as readily as heterosexuality and won't even blink when it's suggested that such and such male character has a boyfriend or what have you.

Video Games still have awhile to catch up, but there has always been, and unfortunately probably always will be, bigots who hate the idea that homosexuality/bisexuality will become a natural part of any form of media.

It was a big thing when Ellen came cout on TV. It was a big thing when Rosanne had a woman kiss her. It wasn't a major disaster when Doctor Who was kissed by Captain Jack.

Oddly enough, there have actually been a great many homosexual/bisexual characters on TV:
home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~wyatt/tv-characters.html
It's about 4 years old, but still an interesting fact that there were far more homosexual/bisexual characters than was publicized by the ignorant and bigoted.

The list for homosexual/bisexual video game characters might not be as large, but it is still there. And the only ones who have a problem with it are the same ignorant bigoted people who had a problem with it on TV.

In all honesty, that shows the greater harm to children and adults are actually the ignorant and bigoted, not the homosexuals/bisexuals.

nightwng2000
NW2K Software
Nightwng2000 NW2K Software http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000 Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

@ Ohma

Actually, CJ was gay and he just stayed in the closet. His violent outbursts were designed to cover up his true nature.

@Darth_Toxic

Boy oh boy, you've just given me so much hope for humanity.

The funny thing is, a character's sexuality doesn't matter unless the game explicitly states that it matters somehow. A lot of games that focus predominantly on action don't address it much at all. Resident Evil, for example, has a decent plot, solid gameplay, and developed characters that honestly could be of any orientation. Wouldn't surprise me, and wouldn't change the course of the game.
Out of games where it would matter, I can see two varieties:
-The sandbox games, like GTA, Bully, and Fable, where you wander around, do stuff, and in your free time can woo who you'd like or not woo anyone at all. Publishers seem to be adding gay options for this now.
-Games where you are forced into unavoidable gay relationships. I'd see this as distracting as having a prominently gay protagonist in a movie. Think Brokeback Mountain - they say it's quite a good movie, but given my taste in movies I never had a reason to see it and haven't. But since it was such a well done movie I suspect some people saw it that may not have gone to see any old romance movie. Such a thing is I daresay also doable in games, but it's definitely a gamble and a challenge to do it properly, and it's hard to fault the developers for not having felt up to it yet.

I'm...I'm ashamed! How could he forget Shadow Hearts: Covenant!? That game had one of the non-stereotypical gayest characters in it! Ever!

Oh, and I'm not talking about the two item vendors.

hayabusa75, as a gay man myself, I can say that you did not offend. While the idea of playing as a "gay man" in a game *may* appeal to me (depending on the actual content of the game) it would probably not appeal to most straight guys/girls.

What annoys me most is when games from other countries are censored to remove gay content. Honestly, there is no better way to reduce fear of homosexuality and violence against homosexuals than allowing culture to aknowledge them and get to know them as people or characters. Not to mention the bad writing that often enough replaces it. It's worse in anime than games mind you...

I wonder if there is actually any aknowledgement officially or unofficially that homosexual refereces could lead to higher ratings by censorship boards or if it's purely a case of worry about isolating potential homophobic buyers.

I agree with whomever talked about the closed mindedness of gamers (I would search for who it was but alas, I am too lazy for such exertion). The majority of us are so closed minded about just about anything, it's pathetic.

The irony of the situation is delicious if you ask me. We are constantly claiming that we are discriminated against but when some issue like a gay protagonist shows up, we lash out against it. Tis a sad thing indeed.

There are times in which I am almost disgraced to call myself a gamer, this would be one of those times. Not all of us can be as open minded as the GP readership, but sometimes I worry about us.

hayabusa75 Says:
November 9th, 2006 at 8:15 am
...the percentage of hetero gamers who would buy a game with a gay main character is a lot smaller ... I don’t think I’d plunk down $50-$60 to play as a gay fella. And I don’t mean something open-ended like Fable, I mean a game when it’s been established before you even open the case.
That's easy - just make your main character a lesbian.

The game'll fly off the shelves then.

(Hooray for double-standards!)

@Thefremen

You even had any left to begin with?

Stupid people won't buy a game if it has gay characters - the other day at school, I was talking about Bully with someone. This EXTREMELY stereotypical jock/'whigger' comes up to say something about it. Initially, he gives us grief for being 'nerds' (Since we're talking about videogames, he starts this dumb 'nerd imitation' and starts spouting a bunch of Dungeons-And-Dragons BS.) Them, after I say "Uh, there's none of that in Bully...", he replies with, AND I QUOTE, "Bully? That game is gay, 'cuz it has fags in it! I thought it was cool, and I was gonna buy it, but then I saw a picture in a magazine talking about fags in the game! You like that fuckin' game? You're gay, man." and walked away.

-_-

@aniki21:

I know, that's why I threw in the Fear Effect reference. ;)

@Eloquence:

Cool, I am officially reassured!

The thing I like about the Bully OMGGAY debacle is that it's, well, obvious. If you give one of the gay characters some flowers, he will kiss you.

So to summarise: If you, as a male character, show affection towards a gay character, he responds in kind. Wow. That's really pushing the gay agenda.

I'm surprised nobody mentioned Viranus Donton from the Fighters Guild quests in Oblivion as possibly being gay- or in Fallout 2, where you can marry. But then, you gotta play the long-ass games to know. And I agree humorously- put in two lesbian characters, and the games'll fly off the shelves.

All jokes aside, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay,_lesbian,_bisexual,_and_transgender_cha...

Enchanted Arms.


Sold pretty well.

Case closed.

Bully is good for children and iwill teach my kids and my family to play BULLY forever.LOSER!!!!!!
 
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