Shoving It Down Your Throats?comments powered by Disqus
Posted on Saturday, July 19 2014 @ 22:35:32 PST
I knew as soon as we started reporting on GaymerX2 the comments section of our articles would not be the most pleasant thing to read. While I know there are a large number of our readers who support the topics of creating more inclusive video games there are some who hate the idea of even discussing the issue at all. So it was no surprise to me that the first comment on the first article we posted about panels we saw at Gaymerx2 this year echoed familiar sentiments of people who criticize speaking out about LGBTQ inclusion in games. That person was of course one of our biggest resident troll bigtruckseriesreview I don’t know if he’s connected to bigtruckseries himself or if it’s just someone else who shares the same zeal for trolling the comment section of gamerevolution.com with innocuous garbage a majority of the time. It could probably be the same person, either way, the comments were negative.
My initial reaction to much of what was said in reaction to the Gearbox article Nick Tan wrote was anger but after reading the entire tirade I realized that there was an opportunity to discuss the misinformation and incorrectness that goes into producing the criticisms that were presented. I know there are people who oppose any discussion of LGBTQ inclusion in games but most of them are able to construct an argument that does not come off sounding like they just disrobed after a KKK meeting. The arguments bigtruckseriesreview and a few others had since we began our GaymerX2 coverage are not original and shared by way too many people who heckle any discussion of more diverse inclusion in games on many far reaches of the internet not just on gamerevolution.com. I do not want to join in to a comment battle because this kind of thought process needs to be addressed head on with actual facts and real-world examples, which bigtruckseriesreview and others like him tend not to include in their arguments. A common M.O of lazy trolls.
We are not force-feeding anything down anyone’s throats. This is one of the most common phrases used when people argue against numerous issues online and I find that it is an incredibly weak unoriginal argument. It was also a phrase brought up at most panels at GaymerX2 as an inside joke because anyone who is vocal about LGBTQ issues in games hears it all the time. David Gaider mentioned several times during Gaymerx2 the irony of using a metaphor with such built-in gay innuendo when bashing on LGBTQ issues in games. We know that some people do not determine why they buy a game based on the level of LGBTQ content in it. Everyone knows that. You may not think they do but that’s because you are wrong.
Then he goes on to unleash this little gem of misguided wisdom into the world:
The only truth to this statement is that “flamboyant caricatures” are not taken seriously in games or any other form of media they appear in. Where he and so many others who share this thought process get it wrong is when they fail to realize that those “caricatures” are often not the brainchild of LGBTQ game developers and are also not taken seriously by those of us fighting for more diverse character representation. If these characters have been “forced” on anyone it is on the very demographic they have been designed to stereotype. Characters that cater to the “flamboyant gay” stereotype are the characters we want to get out of games, we want characters who reflect who we are much like any other gamer would. Sexuality should never be what makes characters who they are. When characters are flamboyantly gay or overtly heterosexual that hurts everyone.
Over the past decade we have seen more and more companies begin to make progress in creating queer characters without sensationalizing their sexuality. So yes in a way, these “flamboyant caricatures” have helped further the inclusion of more sincere representations of LGBTQ characters because they act as examples of how not to portray LGBTQ individuals. This kind of realization is what leads to the creation of characters like Bill and Ellie in The Last of Us, Marjory and Kasmeer in Guild Wars 2, or the numerous range of characters with varying sexual identities in the Mass Effect or Dragon Age franchises.
One of many points made in the Bioware panel at GaymerX2 “Freaking Out the Neighbors” was the controversy that blew up after David Gaider and company did a Q&A about characters in Inquisition, briefly mentioning that Dorian was going to be an exclusive romance option for male players. Ryan Bates wrote an article about it restating the exact same sentiments echoed by Bioware during their panel. Being gay is one of many characteristics of Dorian’s character and yet that’s the one thing people could not stop talking about after it was mentioned in a Q&A.
Check out the Bioware team discussing the controversy around Dorian’s sexuality at GaymerX2 here.
Really this all boils down to an issue of being made uncomfortable by the presence of LGBTQ content or any content that goes against what has been mainstream for so long. In a panel about “Internetting While Female” Katherine Cross gave a great explanation about why there is so much negativity stemming from these issues and although the concept is mainly geared towards harassment against women it speaks to the roots of the high level of hate that gets tossed around on the internet on a daily basis. Why do people troll? Why do people get so enraged and lash out so often especially about these issues? Although anonimity plays apart in this freedom to rage on the web there is more to it than that.
You can watch the discussion of this specific issue here.
“Anonymity is an inflection on online harassment it changes the character of online harassment in certain situations in other situations it may be an accelerant but it is never the cause. The cause has to do with one, the lack of accountability … and two, just the moral culture in which people are stewing where this sort of thing is okay. Where because we feel like so much of the internet is us shouting into a vacuum, that there are no consequences to our words that it is ultimately a place where we can scream at the universe.” - Katherine CrossThis kind of screaming:
Oh the mysterious “they” that bigtruckseriesreview and so many others like him reference to no end. Who are “they”? Journalists like me? Gaymers and straight allies who travel from all corners of the world to attend conferences like Gaymerx and show their support for a more diverse gaming space? The Easter Bunny? He does seem to enjoy pastels a bit too much doesn’t he? Those “Game Makers” include LGBTQ individuals and have for a very long time although they haven’t always been able to make their voices heard in the past, that is beginning to change. You may not think that but that’s because you are wrong.
“They” are not forcing developers to do anything. Companies like Bioware, Naughty Dog, and Gearbox were present at GaymerX2 supporting these issues because it is important to them. Randy Pitchford gave an incredibly heartfelt speech about how transgender individuals are underrepresented in games and that Gearbox has thought of including a transgender character in future titles. This is a huge topic for someone like him to discuss and you may not like that he supports transgender characters but it gives me hope and it gives hope to all the transgender gamers out there who barely see themselves represented with integrity anywhere in the entertainment industry, let alone games.
Check out what Randy Pitchford had to say about complex gender identities here.
“They” are far from being Talentless Hacks, “they” have been working on some of the most impactful games of our time. David Gaider, lead writer of the Dragon Age series, Emilia Schatz, a transgender woman currently working on Uncharted 4, Heather Cerlan, a gay woman and texture artist at Naughty Dog who Neil Druckmann consulted with on Ellie’s story in the Left Behind DLC, Amanda Christensen a openly gay concept artist at Gearbox, and Regina Buenaobra a bisexual woman who works as a community manager for Guild Wars 2. These are a few of the queer individuals working on AAA games and that’s not to mention the straight allies within the industry who work alongside them. There are so many more out there and their voices are beginning to be louder within the companies they work for because developers are beginning to see that diversity is important to gamers of all kinds. They understand that not every game has to include every minority on the face of the planet but when they do they should do it correctly and not in a stereotypical manner.
Then you get into the indie space and it’s incredible the amount of good the indie devs are doing ,sharing unique stories through games. If you want to open your mind to different points of view through games play Dys4ia by Anna Anthropy, play Mainichi by Mattie Brice, play games that challenge not only our perspective on the world but our idea of what a game can be and the stories they can tell. “They” are not talentless hacks, these are people contributing to an art form many of us love. If anyone is the “Talentless Hack” it is people like bigtruckserieseview who waste so much creative energy into spreading unintelligent hate throughout the internet when maybe they could be doing something meaningful like at least writing a more well constructed sentence. Overusing ALL CAPS doesn't add validity to ignorance.
Especially comments like this:
You know for someone who prides themselves on having lengthy opinions on various topics he doesn't seem to like to expand on the word "they" much, expecially when accusing people of indoctrinating future generations.
Bottom line, this is a false statement. Just so we’re clear, GaymerX was an 18+ event so there was no indoctrinating going on there. You can try to blame it on high profile games like Borderlands, Mass Effect, and the Dragon Age series along with most other mature AAA titles that include LGBTQ romances and characters but those aren’t marketed to children. If underage kids are playing these games it’s not because developers are handing them out like candy on the street. Their parents are buying it for them or they got their hands on it somewhere else.
I played Resident Evil before I was of age but that was my Dad’s decision to allow me to play that, he also taught me right from wrong and the difference between a game and reality. Like the reality that developers do not market mature rated games to children so this idea that they are trying to “indoctrinate” children with mature games that contain LGBTQ characters and romances is completely wrong. They are absolutely not trying to do that. When a game that is accessible to kids comes along and does contains LGBTQ themes it does not indoctrinate them into any “agenda”. In fact studies have shown that children exposed to these issues earlier in life develop more empathy and they are more likely to become tolerant individuals who are more compassionate to people who are different than themselves.
A personal example for me would be Gone Home. There’s a reason that it has garnered so much praise and it’s because it is an example of how a game can not only be art but provide players with an experience that has the potential to change their lives. It may not have the same life-changing effect on everyone who plays it but for someone like me who was closeted for the majority of their youth a game like that could have saved me decades of hardship if I had played it when I was younger. Knowing that games like Gone Home exist and other kids who are feeling the same inner torment I once felt can experience that story and realize something about themselves that they haven’t been able to realize gives me hope for the future. For a young gay teen struggling with their sexual identity receiving that message of hope can be the difference between life and death.
Which brings me to my final point:
Nobody is saying you cannot speak against these issues. You can shout your disdain for the “agendas” you feel are being “forced” upon you as loud as you want into the bottomless pit of the internet but that will not stop what is happening in the industry. I choose to focus on these comments because they are the epitome of the comments that are made everytime these issues come up in any conversation on more inclusion in games. This isn't the first time we've seen these kind of arguments and I'm sure this won't be the last but it is clear these arguments are becoming less relevant everyday.
Based on what I saw at GaymerX over the past few years and what I’ve seen happening in AAA titles and indie games I know change is coming. It may not be as prevalent now but I believe within the next decade the idea that “agendas” are being “forced” onto anyone will fade into the background of history. Whoever complains about the inclusion of LGBTQ content in games now will begin to become even more overshadowed by the voices of those who support more inclusive content in all forms of entertainment, not just games.
(psst if you want to learn more about the super secret gay agenda click here!)
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