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31 March 2011 @ 10:00 pm
Homophobic gamers are SPOILED!  
I've been reading reviews of Dragon Age II and...I have no words.

Seriously, I'm struck speechless by how utterly dense some individuals can be! Which is why I'm writing this, instead of screaming it at the top of my lungs at whoever would be unlucky enough to end up in my company.

Most Gamers Are Male is a Trope in real need of being discredited. Yes, there are still more guys who game than girls, but there ratio is closer to 2 to 3 than 1 to 10 in this day and age.

And as for what games we like to play...Half of my gamer friends are girls and no, we don't just play The Sims and Farmville – some of us love Portal, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Team Fortress and Assassins' Creed. Hell, some of us just like racing games or fighting games or fucking flower games! Girls are individuals, exactly like boys, which is why categorizing games as "aimed at girls" and "aimed at boys" rubs me the wrong way in all possible manners.

This said, most cultures on this planet where "gamer" is a word usually associate the word with a male person. Thus, most games are made to "appeal to a male audience" (you know, because all men like the exact same things...) and a heterosexual audience at that (gay, bi or asexual male gamers obviously don't exist or at least don't have enough money to matter).

How can we know the industry thinks like this? Well, have you played any non-family console games lately? Especially the ones from the US and Europe?

1. Protagonist is 90% (often caucasian, mute, fit and brown-haired) male. The 10% female protagonists have huge breasts and/or tight outfits. Examples: Half-Life, Deep Space, Red Dead Redemption, etc.
2. You can get “bonuses” in form of new outfits after completing games. If you have female characters who can get new outfits, these will be skimpy.
3. Characters whose sex can't be determined by just looking at them are assumed to be male. If the character turns out to be female this is a huge twist! Examples: Samus Is A Girl.
4. Your character is straight if he's a guy, but girls generally end up bisexual or at least beer queer because Girl On Girl Is Hot. Examples: Mass Effect (oh god, Mass Effect... I love you, but seriously.)
5. All male casts are common. All female casts is all about the female cast wearing skimpy outfits. Example: Dead or Alive: Beach Xtreme Volleyball.
6. Any attempts to challenge these "rules" by, say, making skimpy outfits for males as rewards, is met with small but loud fandom outrage.

And no, this list isn't really hard facts or real statistic proof, but it is the impression I've gotten from playing console games since the age of twelve. Make of that what you will.

Now, I can't really blame game developers for this list, not really. They want to make money and thus they make games designed to appeal to what's supposed to be their main demographic. It's actually a very efficient way to tell the good game makers from the bad ones – the ones who don't use the fallback plan of dumbed down sex appeal in the promotion of their game usually have something worth while in the game itself for you to play. Otherwise they rely on your hormones to guide you in your selection of games. Or explosions.

To that I say this: porn on the internet is free. PG-13 pixel porn is not worth all that money.

And I say dumbed down sex appeal because it is. Attractive people come in many shapes and sizes in real life, but only in one or two in media. Really look at “classically” sexy women portrayed in games today and they'll soon start to blend together (and I say this as someone who's attracted to women).

I'm not one to complain about sexy women. In fact, I greatly enjoy looking at sexy women (and more, but let's not get completely off track here). But when they all look and act the same it gets very boring, very quickly. Is a little variety too much to ask for? And I feel really sorry for the straight female gamers (and myself, partly, since I also find men attractive), because eye candy for them is a rare thing. In the world of the homophobic male gamer any display of male sexiness is disgusting (extra disgusting if it's gay male sexiness).

No, what I really want to complain about is the complaining. Ironic? Hypocritical? You decide.

Reviews of Dragon Age II seem unhealthily obsessed with the fact that OMG A GUY HIT ON ME AND I'M PLAYING A GUY???!!!1111eleven. Not all of them, but it's come up often enough to make me grit my teeth. No matter how politely put, it all ends up smacking of "it's okay to be gay, as long as we don't see it". Sadly this is nothing new and usually not something I can work up the steam to be enraged about. This said, the overreaction to the gay flirting here has reached toddler tantrum levels. It's just embarrassing at this point.

I honestly don't understand why this is such a huge crisis, but apparently getting flirted with by another guy has ruined the game or at least lowered its value to some players. Because clearly all games should be made for Stereotypical Homophobic Straight Men or otherwise given a warning label (I'm not even kidding, someone actually said this...minus the “stereotypical homophobe”-part)

Apparently this one thing that makes the game not completely aimed at them and them alone has lessened the games value. To you guys, I want to say this:

Imagine that you're a woman.

Imagine that you're a woman and you like playing console games. When you do so and pick a game, any console game, you will have a 90% chance of seeing other women in very revealing, very skimpy outfits. Usually illogically skimpy (example: most armor shrinks two sizes when you put it on a woman, yet magically protects as well as the male counterpart).

You can't avoid these women, because they're on display. Hell, occasionally you get a reward which results in said women wearing even skimpier outfits, because you're expected to like that sort of thing. Or you're actually playing a woman, which means you're still in the impractical and quite silly outfit, plus you'll most likely get hit on by other characters of either gender and levels of attractiveness, depending on the imagination of the developers.

In short, you'll play through that one moment of awkwardness that many homophobic gamers seem to have experienced by being hit on by one fictional guy, and you'll play through it over and over and over again, every time you decide to play a game that's slightly mainstream.

I'm not going to pretend female gamers don't complain about this. We do. Because it's annoying as all hell. But the difference between complaining and whining is "there's nothing for me, could you please make me feel more included?" and "they added one option made to appeal to someone that isn't me, make it go away!". Dragon Age II didn't remove the heterosexual options, it simply added gays ones. There is a huge difference, in case you didn't notice.

Valid, mature points I've seen made on Dragon Age II concern the story and character development and other gameplay features that weren't up to par. And you know what, the freak-outs over the gay flirting could actually be voiced without making you look dumb as a rock. Watch:

If one formulated one's complaint on the gay flirting as: “I have no wish to romance this character and him hitting on me forces me to enter a discussion of romance with him, if only to turn him down. And turning him down affects the friendship I have with him, which gives me less bonus points.”

See, not in the least homophobic and addresses a fault in the gameplay mechanic that takes away from your enjoyment and freedom in the game. Is it just me, or did that formulation sound way more adult than "A guy hit on me and that gives me the creeps, stop it!"?

I personally agree that having a romance option character be the one to take the first step isn't such a good idea. Not all players will want to romance all character you can flirt with, so for the sake of choice it should be left out completely. However, when the argument becomes “getting hit on by an NPC sucks because he's a guy” you imply that it would be okay to have it, if it was a hot girl hitting on the main character... Double Standards, anyone?

And yes, you're a homophobe even if you "just think getting hit on by another guy is icky and therefore it shouldn't be in games I play". There are degrees of homophobia just as there are degrees of racism, but it still falls under the same category. I mean, are you really open minded if you say "I've got nothing against the Chinese, I just wish they could warn me if they include them in games I'm thinking of buying"?

(For the insecure: the correct answer is no).

You can't demand not to be called a homophobe while still expressing homophobic opinions. Sorry, but in this universe, logic doesn't work that way.

The lack of female gamers is no surprise to me, seeing as so few games, from the very start, have been aimed at us. This said, to use the lack of female gamers as a reason for why mainstream games shouldn't try to be more inclusive is stupid. Very, very stupid.

As I said before, people who make games want to sell them. Women are not the minority some would like to think, and these days not even gamer girls are that few, so logically you will sell more games by including more options aimed at said women, than you will lose gamer guys so insecure about themselves that they will freak and drop a game as soon as it contains something that isn't exclusively aimed at them.

According to this summary (from 2009) of a survey made by the Entertainment Software Association 38% of all gamers are girl and 44 % online gamers are girls. As in biologically. And there's more joining our ranks every day.

Same goes for gay, bi and asexual people. You'd be surprised how many of us there are out there. The percentage of humanity who aren't heterosexual might be "only 5-10%" (numbers vary greatly) but that's 5-10% of 6 billion people. Yes, we are everywhere. Even kicking your ass on Xbox Live.

Think about that the next time you bring up the argument that "most gamers are straight guys and thus all mainstream games are ours". Please. It will make you look much less stupid.

Side note: I'm also greatly amused by the complaints of the lack of female characters, seeing as Dragon Age II has more than many of the games on the market. Apparently a lack of women in games is only a problem to some when it's a lack of women you can fuck.

And no, all reviews haven't addressed or whined about this. I'm just frustrated with the ones that felt the need to point out the "gay flirting" as a flaw. Most gamers are very nice, sane people, thank the stars.
Current Mood: bitchybitchy
Listening to: Gay Pirates - Cosmo Jarvis
crowdog66: garak smilecrowdog66 on March 31st, 2011 08:18 pm (UTC)
I'm not a gamer at all, but based on my brushes with gaming culture I see nothing here that I disagree with. In short: well said!

It does amuse me, however, when straight male gamers scream about the whole "a gay character hit on me OMG WTF!?!" brouhaha. I mean, dude... if you're so fucking insecure that being hit on by an imaginary character gets your panties in a bunch, you've got bigger problems that you really should be dealing with.

*rolls eyes and chuckles*
Nonesane: Fear vs Sanitynonesane on March 31st, 2011 09:32 pm (UTC)
Yes, mostly their freak-outs are amusing, but when it comes to mainstream games like this such breakdowns can lead to negative consequences for the whole gamer community.


I'm gearing up for a long rant/promotion of my current favorite game Mass Effect, as its final part is coming out by the end of this year (I'm also collecting screen caps for a Garak/Bashir centric DS9 summary, but that's another story), but I have a few complaints about it and one is this:

They've cut out all the non-heterosexual romance options for the male and only the male main character. If you choose to play as a woman there's always a "lesbian" character around.

And as if that wasn't enough, it's not that they didn't consider having gay male characters. Oh they did. They even recorded the dialog and animated the character models. In fact, it's all on the game disks, you just can't get to it, because it's been censored out to not "disturb" sensitive players (read: whiny male homophobes who're okay with lesbians because they're hot).

And this has happened twice! In both the first and the second game! All because of entitled pricks who don't want icky gay guys in "their" games. *inaudible rage*

Sorry, I'm still a little upset over this. I'll get back to laughing at it in an hour or so :)

Edited at 2011-03-31 10:25 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous) on April 16th, 2011 09:22 pm (UTC)
First of all you seem to completely misrepresent the viewpoint of the forum post you linked to. The man(while clearly having problems with homosexuality) simply stated that it seemed illogical that there were as many gay options as straight options even though it's a smaller demographic. He didn't say that he wouldn't play it because of the fact that there were gay option but the distribution of the resources wasn't creating the most happy customers. He even admitted that if the distribution of players were as you claim in this post he was wrong. And it's not wrong to feel disgusted by gay people, as long as you realize that it's not reasonable and accept other people any way.

I also question the statistics you have. The statistics I have read are about gaming in general and not "hard core" games witch you talk about in this post. There obviously are many many "hard-core" female gamers out there I doubt it's 38% of all gamers. Considering that social networks/facebook are "ruled by women" and those gaming markets are as economically powerful as the mainstream market at the moment there are probably some displacement there. Not to mention other "casual games".

Secondly you are a little bit unfair towards valve. Half-life was created when there were a HUGE majority of male gamers and have several strong women in the games, none that have big breasts ;) Oh and they made Portal witch some see as a feminist manifesto(That's probably taking it a bit far but they have a slight point). Oh! And masseffect 2 did have a male/male gay scene.

The Samus is a girl reaction is very logical considering our society and human physiology. I would actually say it's if anything giving the female ass kicker a better chance getting understood and getting past prejudice and the same element are used for other things than gender.

My feeling reading this is that the problem isn't Dead or Alive: Beach Xtreme Volleyball but rather that there aren't non-sexualized all-female options but that is something that will change with time.

It's not a problem with the industry and the industry isn't doing anything bad but they can only push on as far as they feel comfortable and game developers have for a long time been men. And the "rule" is write what you know. As more women will start to make games, gaming will start to change.

I get your point but this post feels hostile and like you are expecting the same treatment as straight men and right now. We are less numerous, we are outsiders that's the simple truth so there won't be as many games catered to us until that change in reality and in the industry perception. Change take time and I can't say I can see any one who is handling it really bad.
Nonesane: Spoony Quote 2nonesane on April 17th, 2011 01:09 am (UTC)
Re: Well...
First of all you seem to completely misrepresent the viewpoint of the forum post you linked to.

That depends on what you think that I think that the guy's viewpoint is (that was a mouthful). It's perfectly possible that I'm overreacting. It's just, when someone says:

"If you believe there are a substantial number of players who would appreciate those features, then advertise it and create trailers for it, don't lead me to believe that this game was crafted for the straight male. If you truly believe that the straight male gamers are not important enough that you should focus on them, then I would like to see your marketing reflect that."

-that just annoys me. Not the homophobia in itself, but the opinion - and this is how I interpret what he's saying - that all these straight males he's referring to should be equally uncomfortable at there being gay males in a game that wasn't specifically aimed at a non-straight-male audience.

To me, the implication that including gay options (and by that in no way excluding the straight romances) ruins the game for all straight males is sad. This may be the opinion of just one guy, but he keeps referring to these "straight male gamers" in a manner that makes it seem as if they're one unanimous group.

And exactly how was he "tricked" by the trailers for Dragon Age 2? What exactly could BioWare have done to make him aware of the fact that this game doesn't cater just to his wishes, short of a "warning, may contain gay"? I'm honestly curious.

...it's not wrong to feel disgusted by gay people, as long as you realize that it's not reasonable and accept other people any way.

Again, it's not the homophobia in itself I'm upset with (though it is depressing), it's the idea that he seems to think most of these other straight male gamers all agree with him.

And the saddest part, which is what got me worked up in the first place, it that a lot of them probably do, to a varying degree. Honestly, that guy's rant didn't much bother me, other than the trailer comment. He and I obviously have nothing in common and we should probably stay the hell away from each other and we'll both be happier for it. He's a minority.

No, what's got be gritting my teeth is how reviewers I generally like felt the need to bring The Gay up as an "awkward part of the game" (and this is in no way the gaming industry's fault, this is purely cultural).

Example: One of my favorite game reviewers Angry Joe. To me, he made it sound like gay guys were coming on to him every minute in the game, when it's one of the guys who takes the initiative and the only way to encourage the flirting to become a romance is to choose the conversation option with a big, pink heart attached (which makes me wonder how some people - not Joe, I'm referring to other people who've had issues with the gay options - manage to romance guys by mistake in this game. Apparently it happens).

As I said in my post, I don't take issue with the fact that they find the idea of a character they don't want to become romantically involved with initiating the romance negative - I can completely understand that (I'm one of the many frustrated players of Mass Effect 1 who at first hardly dared talk to Liara just because Kaidan kept suspecting I was having an affair with her).

But does one character taking the initiative being bad have to equal gay options in mainstream games being bad? Because they way this issue is being phrased isn't "I keep getting hit on by a character I don't want my character to sleep with" as much as it's "oh my god, a guy flirted with me, I feel dirty".

Which brings me to the gaming industry. I'm not accusing them of the culture we currently have – if anything, I'm accusing our culture for the gaming industry we currently have. But more on that later (I do rant).

(Continues in next comment...)
Nonesane: Spoony Quote 2nonesane on April 17th, 2011 01:10 am (UTC)
Re: Well...
I also question the statistics you have.

As you should! I never meant them to be hard core proof, only a possible answer. They were actually a bit of a trap; I wanted to see if people would react if I put in some statistics and am pleased to see someone questioning them. That survey was what I found (admittedly I only did a quick google) and it's two years old with now categorizing, just like you said.

The thing is, people keep saying “guys are the main gamer demographic”, but it's rare we see an actual polls or numbers supporting this – in the armature blog posts like mine I mean, but it's not that common in actual articles either. If you've got more reliable, fresher numbers, do feel free to share!

And I'm not saying men don't make up the majority of gamers, because they do. I'm just saying that female gamers aren't the rare, mystical creatures some articles make us up to be and even though we may be a minority, including stuff "for us" shouldn't have to ruin a game as long as you still keep the stuff "guys like" (and I'm putting both those in quotes, because not all men and women think alike).

As a side note, the "hard core" category for games always makes me snicker. Isn't it typical for subcultures to feel the need to mark a larger part of themselves as "not nerdy enough"? It just amuses me.

Secondly you are a little bit unfair towards valve.

When was I unfair towards Valve? Yes, I did list Gordon Freeman as one of the many “Caucasian, mute, brown-haired, male” protagonists out there, but that doesn't mean I think it's a bad game or that I'm accusing Valve of anything. It's just a fact that Gordon is male, mute, Caucasian and has brown hair, like a ton of other game protagonists from both good and bad games.

The comment about the boobs of female protagonists had nothing to do with Half-Life and I listed Portal as one of the games I enjoy playing, so I honestly don't see how I accused Valve as a company of anything. Could you please explain what I wrote that made you think I was?

Oh and they made Portal witch some see as a feminist manifesto(That's probably taking it a bit far but they have a slight point).

Yes, I would say that's taking it a bit far. Then again, the fact that the only two characters are a woman and a robot with a female voice probably was too much for some people.

Nonesane: Spoony Quote 2nonesane on April 17th, 2011 01:12 am (UTC)
Re: Well...
Oh! And masseffect 2 did have a male/male gay scene.

With Shepard? And where? Because currently all I've got for romancing in my versions of ME is:

Nr 1, Male Shepard:
Ashely Williams (female)
Liara T'Soni (“female”)

Nr 1, Female Shepard:
Kaidan Alenko (male)
Liara T'Soni(“female”)

Nr 2, Male Shepard:
Miranda Lawson (female)
Tali'Zorah vas Neema (female)
Jack (female)
Kelly Chambers (female)
Samara (“female”)
Morinth (“female”)
(Liara again, in DLC, “female”)

Nr 2, Female Shepard:
Jacob Taylor (male)
Garrus Vakarian (male)
Thane Krios (male)
Kelly Chambers (female)
Samara (“female”)
Morinth (“female”)
(Liara again, in DLC, “female”)

You could argue that Liara, Samara and Morinth don't have a gender (thus the “”s), but they're basically female supermodels with blue skin and tentacles for hair, so I don't really think they count as androgynous. Also, male!Shep options are 100% hetro, while fem!Shep has a 50/50 share of both genders...

I know that if you're playing the PC-versions of the Mass Effect 1 and 2 you can hack into the recorded dialog and animations for male/male romances, with Kaidan and Thane at least, but that doesn't make them available in the game itself.

So please, if you have any news that contradict these sad facts, I'd be more than happy to check them out!
Nonesane: Spoony Quote 2nonesane on April 17th, 2011 01:14 am (UTC)
Re: Well...
The Samus is a girl reaction is very logical considering our society and human physiology. I would actually say it's if anything giving the female ass kicker a better chance getting understood and getting past prejudice and the same element are used for other things than gender.

I'm not questioning the logic of it, I just feel it says a lot about our society that we have to “hide” gender, skin color or what have you for people to give non-white-male protagonists the benefit of the doubt. “Female” characters who turn out to be male rarely get the same pleasant surprise ending among gamers (or in any other media).

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be under the impression that I'm blaming the game makers for the very straight-male-stereotype games are aimed at. I'm not.

As I said, they want to make money, so a lot of games they put out will be made with this in mind. And yes, there are the gaming companies who just enjoy making games and you usually find their creations in the sea of games on offer partly because they don't stoop to “lowest common denominator”-tactics like huge boobs on female characters or stereotypical protagonists.

In fact, my post wasn't aimed at them in any way, I just mentioned them because I wanted to exclude them from my rant. What I was annoyed with was the gamers who'd reacted negatively to the gay option, not because it replaced the heterosexual romance options (which it didn't), but because many seemed disturbed or annoyed with “getting gay” in “their” game.

My feeling reading this is that the problem isn't Dead or Alive: Beach Xtreme Volleyball but rather that there aren't non-sexualized all-female options but that is something that will change with time.

Again, this is the point I was rather trying, and apparently failing, to make. I've got nothing against games about half-naked women playing sports; if people want to play those games, sure why not. It's just that there are very few alternatives for people who want to play games with characters who just happen to be female, instead of there for the sake of being sexy.

I'm not saying the “aimed at stereotypical straight male”-games are the problem, it's the lack of variety that is! And the fact that as soon as someone tries to spread a little variety into mainstream games, some parts of the gaming community complain loudly

Now, if they were complaining about feeling left out because options aimed at them had been removed from the game, then I'd understand. But with Dragon Age 2 we've got gamers saying that adding a gay option while still having heterosexual options makes the game less for them.

To me, that's like complaining that your local ice-creme parlor added strawberry ice-creme to their menu, because you only like vanilla and you don't like strawberries; do the parlor really have to remove a flavor from the menu, just because you might smell the strawberries and feel a bit nauseous for a second?

If you're that delicate, maybe you should just eat ice-creme at home.
Nonesane: Spoony Quote 2nonesane on April 17th, 2011 01:15 am (UTC)
Re: Well...
It's not a problem with the industry and the industry isn't doing anything bad but they can only push on as far as they feel comfortable and game developers have for a long time been men. And the "rule" is write what you know. As more women will start to make games, gaming will start to change.

Again, I'm not hating on the game developers or saying that the industry is ruining everything. I'm annoyed with the players, the people who buy and review the games. We are the ones who make our culture and we're the ones who can change it, for better and for worse.

We only get the games we tell the industry we want (or that the industry thinks we want) and this is partly determined by reviews and other opinions on games. If, as in this case, perfectly decent human beings argue that they feel uncomfortable around gay romantic options in games, we're going to see less of those in the future, and as a bisexual gamer that makes me sad. That is all.

In short, my post was about me being tired of these two things:
- Guys overreacting to being hit on by fictional gay men.
- The fact that we live in a culture where this isn't a surprise.

The rest is just added annoyance :)

(And yes, I'm done now, promise)