Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with Gay & Lesbian Gamers

May 28, 2009 -

The debate over gay marriage is raging in California and elsewhere, but the video game industry has its own gay rights issues to address. From Xbox Live's banning of certain gamertags to Bioware's recent Star Wars: The Old Republic forum flap, the game biz has handled its relations with its gay and lesbian customers ham-handedly at times.

Over at Ars Technica, Ben Kuchera surveys the situation and talks with, among others, Flynn DeMarco (left), editor of GayGamer:

Being able to identify as gay or lesbian in an online gaming perspective has its positives and negatives. The negatives being obvious in that they face endless harassment. The positives are that maybe you can connect and play with someone else without having to listen to a litany of gay jokes and 'fag' insults...


...repressing GLBT visibility in forums, even with good intentions, only makes it safer and more acceptable to use hate speech. Visibility is key to equality...

 

I definitely feel that the LGBT issues are part of the larger issue of gaming's immature treatment of sex...

ESRB spokesman Eliot Mizrachi offered the perspective of the video game industry's content rating organization:

We've encountered the issue of same-sex content before—the boy-boy kiss in Bully being one example...

 

While there aren't any content descriptors that specifically identify same-sex content, our raters are trained to consider these types of elements within the context of the overall game, and to weigh those factors, among others...


Comments

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

Freedom of speech is only protected in regards to the government. A company has every right to tell you you cannot say something at work or on one of their forums and fire you or ban you if you do say it. Freedom of speech only protects you from the goverment stopping you from saying something in general. It's weird and unfortunate but many people believe this right extends further then it legally does.

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

What I have learned from hearing Xbox Live chats is that, homosexuality is very much alive in all of us, and it only takes a few loud-mouthed teenagers to make us aware of it and coax it out :P

 

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

Jeez... speaking as someone with a gay family member. The bigotry just has to end. Whats to struggle with? It's just time to embrace homosexuals as "part of the world" and move on. At the end of the day nothing tangible is hurt by their way of life. The only people hurt by this are people who have a skewed (bigoted) outlook on life in the first place.

MELTING POT YO?!?!

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

Tolerance is different from acceptance. Trying to force everyone to like everyone else is an exercise in futility. Give everyone the space they need to be who they are - and stop them from stomping on other people's rights. This includes gay people, and straight people. Neither 'side' understands that they're just hopping over a fence and stomping on each other's cow pies. It's just making a mess and they seem to get pissed off when their metaphorical boots stink, and blame it on the other side.

I will not buy securom games. http://www.wolvenmoon.com/sharedfiles/message1.jpg and http://www.wolvenmoon.com/sharedfiles/message2.jpg

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

What does having a gay character in a game do to enhance the storyline?

If mario was gay, his quest for the princess would be confusing.

If Duke Nukem was gay, it would alienate the target audience hugely. However, if he had a thing for blonds, it would be in line with the game.

If Twilight Princess Link was gay, it'd detract from the storyline - which hinted at a romance with Midna.

If Knights of the Old Republic let you chose a romance with any character regardless of gender, it'd detract from the storyline as it'd mean that every character in the game was bi/gay, or was 'converted', which would send a bad message about homosexuality.

If Kane from command and conquer was gay, it'd make no tangible difference to the game or the understanding of it.

If sonic the hedgehog was gay, it'd not change the early games much, but later games with Amy Rose might change significantly.

If starfox was gay, it'd make a lot of furries very happy. LOL. Had to end it on a funny note. =P

 

I don't care if a character's gay if it adds depth to the character. However, for most characters, it doesn't matter to the story what they're attracted to, and crafting a character around a sexual preference makes for shallow, rigid, boring characters. Unless we're talking a romance game, in which case it fits and can be expected.

I will not buy securom games. http://www.wolvenmoon.com/sharedfiles/message1.jpg and http://www.wolvenmoon.com/sharedfiles/message2.jpg

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

What does having a straight character in a game do to enhance the storyline?

If mario was straight, his quest for the princess would be confusing.

If Duke Nukem was straight, it would alienate the target audience hugely. However, if he had a thing for blonds, it would be in line with the game.

If Twilight Princess Link was straight, it'd detract from the storyline - which hinted at a romance with Midna.

If Knights of the Old Republic let you chose a romance with any character regardless of gender, it'd detract from the storyline as it'd mean that every character in the game was bi/straight, or was 'converted', which would send a bad message about homosexuality.

If Kane from command and conquer was straight, it'd make no tangible difference to the game or the understanding of it.

If sonic the hedgehog was straight, it'd not change the early games much, but later games with Amy Rose might change significantly.

If starfox was straight, it'd make a lot of furries very happy. LOL. Had to end it on a funny note. =P

 

I don't care if a character's straight if it adds depth to the character. However, for most characters, it doesn't matter to the story what they're attracted to, and crafting a character around a sexual preference makes for shallow, rigid, boring characters. Unless we're talking a romance game, in which case it fits and can be expected.
 

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

Of course it would be confusing if a homosexual character had heterosexual relationships that's why you would have to make a homosexual relationship for the characters involved. Mario wouldn't go on a quest for a Princess but rather a Prince, it's that simple. It does seem like you're clutching at straws here.

Your point about Knights of the Old Republic doesn't work. In one of the games there were gay characters, plus Mass Effect made by the same company allowed the player (if they were female) to choose whether to have homosexual or heterosexual relationships. Bully did the same thing too and of course the Sims is completely open in relationship choices. I think Mass Effect pretty much destroys your argument about relationships and character development and improvements to the story.

How does giving the player more choice in regards to romance have a negative effect on the game?

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

 Why is Mario only going to save the princess if it means some pussy for him? Can't he do it out of a sense of chivalry or duty? A cash reward of some kind? Maybe Mario is a photog for TMZ and needs to snap some shots of Bowser carrying around the princess for the site/show? 

 

but srsly the rest was just copypasta fun.

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

Because there are more straight people than gay, meaning that the characters are more relatable for the majority of people. It's a straight person's world, and it'll be the end of humanity when that changes. Enjoy it, adapt, you're capable of that. I'm a freakin' furry for crying out loud - if I can adapt as a straight christian to the furry fandom without being squeamish, you can do it too.

Romance is a strong topic, even in something as simple as 8 bit mario. The simple, pixelated story of a man willing to jump on what looks like squirming piles of poo, turtles, angry fish, and weird plants to save the woman he loves.

I will not buy securom games. http://www.wolvenmoon.com/sharedfiles/message1.jpg and http://www.wolvenmoon.com/sharedfiles/message2.jpg

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

But there are countless games aimed at males with females in the lead, so how does the relatability work there then?

Also people don't become gay (it's not a choice), your worry that the world will end if everyone becomes gay won't happen. Roughly 10% of the population are gay and the statistic never really changes.

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

Do I need to reply to that first point? Have you heard the term 'sex sells'? Why do males buy pictures of naked girls?

 

For your second point...

I've watched many 'modern' straight 'relational experts', and observed many gay and straight relationships, falling into a single, huge trap. That they have no choice in who they love.

We are told to believe the burning emotional rollar coaster known as infatuation is love. We are told that we can only love those we are physically attracted to (!). We are told that our relationships are not a choice.

For gay males, the propoganda is that the feminine body is revolting. This is DEGRADING AND OPPRESSIVE to women! It's JUST as degrading as the medieval treatment of the female half of the human population as property to be sold for a 'dowry'.

For gay males, they are told that they have no choice in who they love nor how.

The people following this propoganda have a higher than 65% divorce rate. (I take commited gay relationships as marriages). It apparently works really well, doesn't it?

 

Whether I'm gay or straight doesn't matter when I say this: True love is a choice to commit to another person entirely, even if they become physically revolting to you.

Now...tell me, regardless of if there is a 'gay gene' (we would have found it by now) or not, does it invalidate your love for someone else? If they found out that it was due to something that could be changed by something that took a single minute, would it invalidate you?

Think carefully, because if it does invalidate your love - you may have trouble in your relationships in the future, true love is not physical. If it doesn't, you're choosing to be gay.

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

Basically you're saying that it says that the Bible says homosexuality is wrong. Because otherwise I have no idea where you got all this nonsense from. There isn't a gay gene, but not all human traits are dictated to by genes, there are other factors such as hormonal factors. Also you have a confusion between love and attraction. Perhaps you've been brought up by being dictated that there is a possibility that you could be turned gay (if you are straight in the first place), you can't, now relax and don't get so worried that this could happen to you.

If gay men found the female body so revolting then why are there drag queens? Why are there so many gay icons (usually attractive women)?

Sex sells? Is that the reason why there are so many games that feature half-naked, waxed muscular men and the reason behind their strong sales in a male dominated market?

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

I guess I don't understand why GLBT issues are involved with gaming in the first place.  I'm here to play a game, not promote my sexuality.

 

Freedom of speech means the freedom to say ANYTHING, so long as it is the truth. This does not exclude anything that might hurt someone's feelings.

--- With the first link, the chain is forged.

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

Fair enough.

But only if the hetro players never talk about thier personal lives either.  So no talking about your SO, no little quips like 'gotta go meet my gf for dinner', adults can not talk about husbands and wives.  No talking about the movie you saw last night, no talking about what you did over the weekend, nothing ever mentioning other people in your life.

So keep all personal conversation out of games and your argument starts to make sense.  I doubt most players would tollerate that though.  So why should GBLT players?

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

Why the hell is anyone talking about their dates in the broad public anyway? I don't care if someone says "I have to meet my girlfriend/boyfriend for dinner" regardless of gender. However, when they start saying (this is a real example from an UT2004 server):

"Oh, I have to go meet my uh, boyfriend for dinner. Then we're going out to a few gay bars. There's one that has a really cute DJ. Afterwords we're going to go to a movie and cuddle."

On a private server, or amongst friends, this would fine. However, this was on a public server and no one on there knew the guy past what his tag was, and that he was good with a sniper rifle but sucked with anything else.

Quite bluntly, most 'gay gamers' that I've met do this. If you're a [gay][gamer], you need to stick to [gay][gamer] servers. Otherwise, take the tag [gamer] by itself, and leave the rest of your baggage at the door - it'll only slow you down, and a slow gamer is a dead one. If you make friends that care to know that you're anything more than a [gamer], feel free to tell them. Otherwise all you're doing is trolling with your sexuality.

I will not buy securom games. http://www.wolvenmoon.com/sharedfiles/message1.jpg and http://www.wolvenmoon.com/sharedfiles/message2.jpg

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

 Yet heterosexual people talk about their significant others a lot in games all the time. It's not like you can play games online without running into guys who won't shut up about how totally heterosexual they are and how such and such girl they saw is totally hot and whatever. I can't recall any gay people doing that in all the time I've played games.

 

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

I've never been on a serve where they said anything to the extent of 'we're going to a gay bar to hit on the cute dj and then we're going to cuddle'.  No one gives a fuck about your plans for the night.

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

Yes, and those same people post goat se images on every site they can. It's called being a jerk, and it's a common issue. It's fine to ask them to stop.

You should try playing on a furry server for five minutes, or filter your servers to 'gay' or 'GLBT', there are plenty to play on on popular games.

Or you could just try private servers, or moderated servers, like the rest of the people that dislike shock image graffitis in our games.

I will not buy securom games. http://www.wolvenmoon.com/sharedfiles/message1.jpg and http://www.wolvenmoon.com/sharedfiles/message2.jpg

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

Or you could just try private servers, or moderated servers, like the rest of the people that dislike shock image graffitis in our games.

And perhaps you could sit at the back of the bus away from the straight people and go to gay only places, and use gay only toilets etc, etc.

It seems like you're a big fan of segregation and discrimination.

Oh, and I've seen plenty of men talk about what they do with their imaginary girlfriends (almost to assert their heterosexuality in fear of being seen as gay), so don't say it's a gay only thing or that all gay people do the same, they don't. At the end of the day no one wants to hear or cares about what people do in their freetime (especially when the person is controlling a pixelated character on screen).

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

So how is my suggestion of going to private, and/or moderated servers if you can't handle the gay OR straight chatter, the shock images, etc on public, unmoderated servers supporting segregation and discrimination?

-snips larger post-

The fact is that it is not discrimination. If you're on a counter strike server talking in detail about your love life, it's likely the game on that server isn't any good anyway. To use another image of segregation - like you're trying to accuse me of (It's silly to accuse a furry of discrimination against gays, btw.) - it'd be like a bunch of pricks guarding a bathroom with no running water.

Why would you even care that you can't get into a non functional bathroom to do your business? Is it really worth that much of your time to start a fight over a broken toilet? No? Then go find a different public server, get onto a moderated public server, or get onto a private server. This is the internet, not the physical world.

To compare it to a bar, you're very welcome to sit next to the nudist talking to the guy who barks like a dog. If seeing the nudist's bits offends you, you're welcome to move. I, personally, 'wear clothes' and refrain from 'barking' when it offends a person sitting next to me. You can extrapolate from these parallel groups what other group I won't explicitly say I identify with.

I will not buy securom games. http://www.wolvenmoon.com/sharedfiles/message1.jpg and http://www.wolvenmoon.com/sharedfiles/message2.jpg

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

 You answered your own question, moron. It's freedom of speech even if it hurts the feelings of you and your Klan.

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

I guess I don't understand why GLBT issues are involved with gaming in the first place.

You answer your own question...

Freedom of speech means the freedom to say ANYTHING, so long as it is the truth. This does not exclude anything that might hurt someone's feelings.


Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

 Freedom of speech apparently also is a one way street for him, as it is for JT et al.

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

Whoever said anything about promotion? Just because some games have minority characters in them they suddenly promote the issue? As soon as someone says something about homosexuality it becomes a promotion? I don't understand the logic.

GLB (transsexuals have nothing to do with homosexuality) issues exist in gaming simply because some of the people that play games are gay. If you're to get more realistic characters in games, ones that people can relate to then you need to be representative of the public.

Your comment does remind me somewhat of the typical anti-gay response (although I have no idea where you stand on the matter), by saying why is sexuality in gaming, why does homosexuality need to be represented in it? Almost to say that it needn't be in it, but the answer is why not? We have games about sadism (although I'm not equating homosexuality with any morally wrong behaviour) and just about anything else so why should we stop when it comes to sexuality?

Freedom of speech is your signature but clearly who have a problem with freely talking about sexuality.

Again, why not? Why are some issues off bounds for games?

 

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

Shh! You can't say that! Now you'll be permanently labeled as a homophobe!

Which is utterly stupid, because really - games are played to be games. Not social commentary.

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

Why aren't games allowed social commentary? GTA has plenty of it, why can't games have any sort of intelligence? What games shouldn't make you think?

Films do it, why can't games?

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

Well let's hope that GTA: The Ballad of Gay Tony changes something (you can't even discuss the game properly on xbox.com thanks to the ban of the word "gay").

I doubt that the recent controversy over Bioware's ban of such topics came from them, rather the company Lucasfilm due to similar bans on gay discussion on their other websites, most likely due to their products now being aimed at a younger audience (ie Clone Wars cartoon).

Games have never been able to take sex seriously and what that comes homosexuality too.

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

If nothing else The Ballad of Gay Tony will make for some hilarious scenarios if insecure fratboy gamers or Live dipshits want to buy the expansion double-pack in stores. 

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

A lot of gamers have already expressed horror at the possibility of playing a gay character (although this won't be the case), because apparently the distinction between a game character and real-life doesn't exist when dealing with sexuality although these are people who have been quite happy to play as a female character in numerous games.

Generally it's more of the younger immature gamers expressing their horror at this game (although then again they weren't too pleased with the mature approach GTA took and preferred the childish toilet humour of Saints Row 2).

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

Funny... I just opened my brownser and saw this article, after just returning from lunch, when there was a girl, that when asked for something to the cook, had a man voice...

 

criadordejogos.wordpress.com

--- MaurĂ­cio Gomes twitter.com/agfgames

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

lol, gays.

--------------------------------------------------

I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Ars Technica Examines Industry's Struggle to Deal with ...

Great writeup.

People tend to underestimate just how powerful controling the lexicon of discussion can be.   I can recall in college, the whole idea of sociolinguistics was openly mocked by professors in various psych/soc classes...

 
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