Wednesday, September 09, 2009

What do gay gamers want?

I recently interviewed the fabulous Brenda Brathwaite for an article that appeared on Advocate.com.

During our conversation, the veteran game designer (and author of Sex in Video Games) admitted, “I don’t think most straight developers, including myself, know what gay men and women want in a video game.”

Most developers pressed with the question, "How can we attract a gay audience?" are likely to answer, "Let's put a bunch of naked men into the game," Brathwaite adds. "But that's not going to do it for you."

I tend to agree, but I also tend to believe that gay gamers are as different as they are alike. Some, like me, would like to play as a gay protagonist once in a while, while others prefer the status quo (where heroes rescue princesses and all that).

I realize it's a bit early in this blog's life to ask this question (as I don't seem to have many followers), but I'm going to ask it anyway: What do you, as an LGBT man or woman, want in a game? As always, I'm all ears.

9 comments:

Bryan Ochalla said...

I'll start things off: Once in a while, I'd really like to play an RPG that allows me to control a gay character (a gay protagonist would be even better). I know there are a few RPGs out there that include side characters who are LGBT (or seem to be LGBT), but I want to be able to control him or her.

Digital Freya said...

I don’t think throwing in a bunch of naked guys would make an entertaining game.

My personal taste I would like to see a female protagonist in games that aren’t used for luring male gamers with promises of pixilated ass.

I am also tired of games that have so many love stories, mostly in RPGs, it’s so clich├ęd and (sometimes) unnecessarily forced into the game. I guess that’s why I like Fable, Mass Effect, and Persona because love can be acquired, but it isn’t needed.

But that's just me, a lot of people love a good love story.

Digital Freya said...

It's kind of sad that Harvest Moon Cute for DS had the lesbian relationship taken out of the Western version. I guess Japan is becoming more open than the West.

Viewtiful_Justin said...

I wouldn't mind seeing something like that. Honestly, some gay characters that aren't stereotypes would be nice. And I'm all for naked men, but really...there's a time and a place for that, and I don't think video games fit that mold.

Seeing a romance in an RPG would be cool so long as it wasn't one of those scenarios where you can marry a man or a woman and they're the exact same storyline with pronouns switched.

But mostly, I don't feel like video games are in need of gay characters. I mean, I'd love to see them in there, but I don't normally think about it...maybe because I just never see it. I dunno...

The first instance of something LGBT friendly in a video game was Birdo's description in the SMB2. Even as a young child it made an impact on me. Something like that, treated as fact and not seen as something weird, would be nice.

Seeing iteration after iteration of Square characters in Final Fantasy games getting more and more androgenous sort of makes me want to tell them, "Just make them gay already and get it over with." I think they'd be willing to before anyone else, honestly. Look at Vaan...he's pretty close.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Digital Freya: I hear ya. I actually like the way things have been handled in the Fable games, but I'd like it turned up a few notches, if you know what I mean. Give us more freedom, make the experiences (relationships) more unique, etc.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Digital Freya: I didn't even know there *was* a lesbian relationship in the Japanese version of Harvest Moon Cute. Thanks for educating me!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, Viewtiful_Justin: I agree with you, too. I've been playing games for a looooooong time, and even though I'd like to see non-stereotyped gay characters in a game now and then, I haven't exactly been sitting at home crying over the fact that they're not there either.

I think one reason for that, though, is that we're so used to the status quo. We're also used to gay characters being stereotyped when they do show up in a game. That's why it's so startling and refreshing to see characters who aren't treated like freaks or jokes - like the LGBT-ish characters in the Persona games.

Anonymous said...

...a few people want more gay characters. But if there is an evil gay villain people scream: "discrimination"! Just like Re5.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, anonymous, though I can't say I agree with you. Are you suggesting gaymers should happily receive whatever gay characters game developers throw their way - even if those gay characters tend to be "evil villains" or, worse, heavily stereotyped?

Personally, I'd be fine with seeing "evil gay villains" in games as long as it's a once-in-a-while thing (as opposed to it being the default, which seems to be the case these days).