MIT GAMBIT Game Labs Explores LGBT Characters in 'A Closed World'

September 22, 2011 -

New research efforts at MIT explore how games handle gay, bisexual and transgender characters and storylines... badly. Inspired by the lack of serious LGBT characters in mainstream video games, Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab has developed a game called “A Closed World,” which hopes to answer straightforward questions such as "How can video games present LGBT content and what are the challenges that a development team faces when trying to include content about someone different from the perceived norm?"

In an attempt to answer these questions, several teams worked for eight weeks during GAMBIT's summer program as producers, designers, programmers, musicians and artists on some experimental games. Todd Harper, the GAMBIT product owner of “A Closed World,” led a team of nine interns from Singapore, MIT, the Rhode Island School of Design and the Berklee College of Music.

“This project addresses a very basic idea about identity and representation in mass media. Think about the first time you heard someone famous was different in the same way as you, or saw someone different in the same way on TV or in a movie. It gave you a little rush of good feeling,” Harper says. “This is the way I sold the project to the interns. Cultural content shapes our reality.”

A Closed World is a console-style RPG that lets players take control of a young resident of a village where (on the outskirts) a forest exists that legend claims "is a place of no return." Because of this the forest is forbidden and what is on the other side of it is unknown. The hero's beloved, tired of the oppressive attitude of the villagers, decides to go there and the protagonist eventually follows after.

Harper notes that LGBT content is usually incidental and never drives the story, which is one of the core reasons for making A Closed World.

"Rather than having it be sidelined or there for a one-off joke, games can and should be doing something explorative and expressive on the topic. We started with my having mapped out the narrative of the game ahead of time. But in eight weeks we'd done something completely different.”

You can check out A Closed World here.

Source: MIT


Comments

Re: MIT GAMBIT Game Labs Explores LGBT Characters in 'A ...

Why exactly is the grouping always LGBT? Transsexualism has nothing to do with homosexuality, but it just seems like a convenient grouping due to the rare nature of transsexuals. If people are concerned over the portrayal of transsexual characters then they need to make sure that disabled are always included (due to the more common occurrence of that minority in society).

Having said that Saint's Row 2 actually had a transsexual as the main character (although this was on a technicality).

Re: MIT GAMBIT Game Labs Explores LGBT Characters in 'A ...

I think the issue here is that the group doing this is immediately assuming that LGBT "content" would revolve around their likes and dislikes, which may or may not conform to "the norm". I'm sure a substantial amount of gay people find it rather offensive when others around them come to the assessment that most gay people fit the gay stereotype. Most times, the only thing that sets them apart is who they cuddle up with when they sleep.

Re: MIT GAMBIT Game Labs Explores LGBT Characters in 'A ...

Perhaps in terms of personality, but I think it can be argued that gays in america encounter a special class of issues and problems that strait people do not, and that is a domain that be explored.

Though personally I think a lot could be done just be integrating GBLT characters as just regular people with plotlines that do not focus on what makes them differnt.   Ideally both types of plotlines would be in play in gaming.

Re: MIT GAMBIT Game Labs Explores LGBT Characters in 'A ...

Games have a hard time portraying everybody other than caucasian/Asian-looking men. Games have a hard time doing relationships overall romance or not.

I think Mass Effect did a pretty good job. Shepherd and Liara is some kind of alternative lifestyle depending on how you classify Liara if you were a woman and you went after her. It also wasn't forced which was kind of nice.

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

Managing Editor at TheBestGameSiteEver.com

Re: MIT GAMBIT Game Labs Explores LGBT Characters in 'A ...

Developers have a hard time portraying ethnic characters because they are mainly Asian/Caucasian men.

Developers have a hard time doing relationships because they've never been laid.

Re: MIT GAMBIT Game Labs Explores LGBT Characters in 'A ...

I guess you must find it sad, to never be able to play a moron like yourself in video games as well...

Oh wait...

 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Poll

Should 'Hatred' have been removed from Steam Greenlight?:

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
E. Zachary KnightIf you are downloading a copy in order to bypass the DRM, then you are legally in the wrong. Ethically, if you bought the game, it doesn't matter where you download it in the future.12/19/2014 - 12:06pm
InfophileEZK: Certainly better that way, though not foolproof. Makes me think though: does it count as piracy if you download a game you already paid for, just not from the place you paid for it at? Ethically, I'd say no, but legally, probably yes.12/19/2014 - 11:20am
ZippyDSMleeAnd I still spent 200$ in the last month on steam/GOG stuff sales get me nearly every time ><12/19/2014 - 10:55am
ZippyDSMleeMaskedPixelante:And this is why I'm a one legged bandit.12/19/2014 - 10:51am
ZippyDSMleeE. Zachary Knight: I buy what I can as long as I can get cracks for it...then again it I could have gotton Lords of the Fallen for 30 with DLC I would have ><12/19/2014 - 10:50am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/12/19/marvel-vs-capcom-origins-leaving-online-storefronts-soon/ Speaking of "last chance to buy", Marvel vs. Capcom Origins is getting delisted from all major storefronts. Behold the wonders of the all digital future.12/19/2014 - 9:59am
MaskedPixelanteSeriously, the so-called "Last Chance" sale was up to 80% off, while this one time only return sale goes for a flat 85% off with a 90% off upgrade if you buy the whole catalogue.12/19/2014 - 9:37am
E. Zachary KnightInfophile, Tha is why I buy only DRM-free games.12/19/2014 - 9:37am
MaskedPixelanteNordic is back on GOG for one weekend only. And at 85% off no less, which is kind of a slap in the face to people who paid more during the "NORDIC IS LEAVING FOREVER BUY NOW OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE" sale, but whatever...12/19/2014 - 9:28am
InfophileRe PHX's link: This is one of the reasons the digital revolution isn't all it's cracked up to be. There's also the flip side where Sony can block access to games you've bought if they ban your account for unrelated reasons. All power is theirs.12/19/2014 - 8:52am
MaskedPixelantehttp://uplay.ubi.com/#!/en-US/events/uplay-15-days You can win FREE GAMES FOR A YEAR! Unfortunately, they're Ubisoft games.12/18/2014 - 6:29pm
Papa MidnightAh, so it was downtime. I've been seeing post appear in my RSS feed, but I was unable to access GamePolitics today across several ISPs.12/18/2014 - 6:06pm
james_fudgeSorry for the downtime today, folks.12/18/2014 - 5:54pm
PHX Corphttp://www.craveonline.com/gaming/articles/801575-sony-refuses-offer-refund-playstation-game-fraudulently-purchased-hacker Sony Refuses to Offer Refund for PlayStation Game Fraudulently Purchased by Hacker12/18/2014 - 1:43pm
NeenekoMakes sense to me, and sounds kinda cool. One cool thing about Minecraft is the meta game, you can implement other game types within its mechanics. There are servers out there with plots, an episodic single player one sound kinda cool12/18/2014 - 11:07am
MaskedPixelantehttps://mojang.com/announcing-minecraft-story-mode/ Umm... what?12/18/2014 - 10:24am
NeenekoThat would make sense. Theaters probably can not afford the liability worry or a drop in ticket sales from worried people. Sony on the other hand can take a massive writeoff, and might even be able to bypass distribution contracts for greater profit.12/18/2014 - 10:03am
ConsterNeeneko: I thought they cancelled it because the major cinema franchises were too scared of terrorist attacks to show the film?12/18/2014 - 9:55am
Neeneko@Wonderkarp - there is still a lot of debate regarding if the movie was a motive or not. Unnamed officials say yes, the timeline says no.12/18/2014 - 9:10am
NeenekoSomething does not smell right though, Sony is no stranger to being hacked, so why cancel this film? For that matter, they are still not giving in to hacker's original demands as far as I know.12/18/2014 - 9:06am
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician