News Ticker

The Importance of Diversity in Video Games

These are just my thoughts and my perspective. At no point should I (or anyone that reads) pretend that my posts are a proper representation of the truth or solid facts. Also, my handle/gamertag/user name is RespectedGen1us (RespectedGenius); this does not mean I am a genius. I just put my real name in a Wu-Tang Name Generator.

LGBT characters | Poison

LGBT gamers, like women and racial minorities, deserve to play games with characters that look and act like they do.

Things I read on the internet no longer surprise me. I have become numb to many of the comments made on the internet under blogs or YouTube videos; I expect people to have strong opinions, some of which border on ignorance, but hearing someone I consider a friend make a comment about LGBT characters in games truly caught me off guard. It happened in a party chat; while in the middle of playing a game, we began discussing series we thought would be good for a collection release on the next-gen consoles, similar to the Halo: Master Chief Collection. I cannot remember how we reached a point in the conversation for this to be included, but my friend made the comment, “Man, you have to be careful with Bioware because they will slide a gay character in on you quick”. It gave me pause, and I assumed he was referring to Mass Effect 3‘s Samantha Traynor and Steve Cortez; he did not outright say it, but I could discern that the inclusion of LGBT characters in games made him uncomfortable. After a few moments of silence, I responded intelligently and respectfully.

I will not go into further detail about our conversation, but I will say that we were able to have an intelligent and respectful conversation, and afterwards we both understood each other’s perspectives on LGBT characters in games. In retrospect, I should not have been surprised by his opinions; he is a Christian, and he has certain religious beliefs that give him less than favorable views of the aforementioned characters, not to mention Dorian, a character in the upcoming Dragon Age Inquisition game that Bioware has identified as “fully gay”. The fascinating part of the conversation for me, and the catalyst for my interest in writing about it, is that I, too, am a Christian. I am a Bible reading, church going Christian. But my views about LGBT characters in games differ from those of my friend. I do not have to “be careful” with Bioware, and having a gay character in a game gives me absolutely no pause. While I do not 100% agree with my friend, I respect his opinion on the inclusion of LGBT characters in games and respect the fact that, even though he is not a supporter of LGBT views, he still enjoys Mass Effect games and plans to purchase Dragon Age Inquisition. Both of our opinions differ from the opinions of some of the individuals whose comments I see online, particularly the Anti-LGBT letters sent to Mass Effect and Dragon Age’s publisher Electronic Arts. Many of those letters not only protest the inclusion of LGBT characters in games but accuse EA of corrupting children.

LGBT characters | Steve Cortez

While I should probably disregard what I perceive as ignorance in those letters and perhaps continue to engage in respectful conversation with my friend, all the previously mentioned perspectives have been in my thoughts recently. What I have not done is question my beliefs or who I am as a Christian. Most people have some form of belief system; whether they are religious or atheist or unsure, people generally have a set of mutually supportive religious, ideological, political, academic, and philosophical beliefs which are a central part of who they are. Everyone is entitled to have those beliefs; it is a basic human right. While not as important as my religious beliefs, as a citizen of the United States of America, a part of my belief system is based on the rights I have been afforded. I live with the freedom to practice my beliefs without being oppressed. Freedom to practice their own beliefs is one the reasons Quakers and Puritans came to America, which is why I believe in separation of church and state. Obviously, not everyone is a Christian, and not all Christians practice their faith the same way.

LGBT gamers deserve to have the opportunity to play games that not just include but feature characters that are similar to them. Just like all gamers, members of the LGBT community spend their hard-earned dollars on these games, along with hours of their time. Perhaps it is irresponsible of me to make a controversial topic sound so simple, but LGBT gamers deserve that level of inclusion because they play games, too! The same statement can be made for women and minorities, as these demographics also have legitimate gripes about the low number of characters in games that look like them. In reference to minorities, I have often heard white, male gamers make statements that suggest actual statistics and demographics mean that there should be far more white male characters in games because there are more white males in the United States. How that relates to a medium whose dignitaries include a blue Hedgehog with super speed and a fat plumber who jumps down green tubes and has time to save princesses and race go-karts against his friends and foes—one of which is a tie wearing gorilla—is something I probably will never understand. Put simply, as previously stated: LGBT gamers, like women and racial minorities, deserve to play games with characters that look and act like they do.

LGBT character | Gay Tony

As a child, I always felt that video games were one of the ways I found common ground with people. Whether it was playing Street Fighter II in a pool hall full of adults or playing first-person shooters with people from places I will probably never visit in my lifetime, video games have given me the opportunity to play with and get to know people who are different from me. Unfortunately, it seems like there are some straight gamers that do not want that common ground with LGBT gamers, despite the fact that we all love video games. I guess knowing that a character has different sexual orientation makes him or her less heroic or less capable, and it’s something people cannot get past, even when it comes to games. But doesn’t that sound the same as when some people did not want blacks to play in another game, baseball, just because of the color of their skin? Furthermore, all of this is disappointing considering heterosexuality is often a plot device in video games and sometimes having heterosexual sex in-game is beneficial to the player. I once button-pressed Kratos through a sexual experience in order to get more Red Orbs in God of War, and in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, I dressed CJ in a gimp suit and went in a woman’s home, so I could get a key card for Caligula’s Casino.

Conclusively, the fact that it is ‘OK’ to have the majority of video games feature straight, male dude-bros, with large muscles and big weapons, who slay bad guys and randomly have sex because it fits their characters, but it is not ‘OK’ to have games feature LGBT characters as the main protagonist, or have characters express interest in another character of the same sex reminds me of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. There is a point in that story, long after the alcoholic farmer was removed for not taking care of the animals and also after the pigs began changing the rules of the farm in order to do as they pleased, including drinking alcohol themselves, Orwell wrote, “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which”.

Also, to paraphrase Animal Farm, “All animals [GAMERS] are equal, but some animals [GAMERS] are more equal than others.”

About Julius Council (59 Articles)
A native of Newport News, Virginia, Julius fell in love with video games the first time he laid eyes on Ms. Pac-Man. His all-time favorite game is River City Ransom for the Nintendo Entertainment System. He is a big fan of RPGs, Sports Games, Real Time Strategy Games, and all things Retro. Julius currently owns a working version of every game console ever released except Neo Geo AES and Turbo Grafx-16, both of which he plans to add to his collection soon.

Leave a comment