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Robert Yang's Handle With Care

HandleWithCare.jpg

As Fruit Brute mentioned earlier, The Escapist's Robert Yang just wrote an article, Not That There's Anything Wrong With That, explicating the response to his nominally gay Half-Life 2 mod, "Handle with Care."

The premise of the mod is relatively simple, you start across from your marriage counselor, berating you for not letting your partner speak; which plays on the knowledge that the person you inhabit, much like in Half-Life 2 never actually speaks. Continuing to point out the problems with the gameplay in his mod (you move stacks of boxes around in a warehouse), Yang points out how the references to this being a homosexual marriage in the game are relatively simple and inobtrusive: your partner is a he, you are a he, and the word partner is used, but the references are minimal.

This then created a furor enough to have people post angry responses on his website, and that's where this article really focuses; because when people demanded he change the game to include less 'gay,' his response is, "Why on Earth would I do that?"

As he quickly states:

In a way, "Handle With Care" isn't really about gay marriage at all. With only one casual mention of a word, the significance of which was likely lost on many players, it's hardly anything to talk about. What about the mind-bogglingly frustrating gameplay, the inconsistent implementation of physics or the esoteric in-game "visions" that resemble mediocre video projects cobbled together by art school dropouts? I expected criticism of my work, but to me there were far more pressing issues than the player character's sexual orientation.

How you respond to the rest of the article depends on how you feel about the use of the words 'gay' or 'faggot' used in colloquial speech. Your mileage may vary; the word faggot does anger me; I am, admittedly, generally an angry person.

What really struck me is his reasoning for creating his mod as he did:

So yes, in a way, my mod isn't about gay rights at all - but that's also perhaps why it's almost entirely about gay rights. It's about how a gay person's life has all the humor, pain, happiness and anxiety of a straight person's life, how the two are otherwise indistinguishable - and yet gay marriage is still recognized as mere partnership, a transaction devoid of emotion.

2 Comments

Nexus said:

I agree with his reasoning.
I think in general there aren't any inherent real diferences between gay and straigth. I sure don't think all gay men are more inclined to being cultured (even though I myself am) or liking the arts or anything like that.
I'm sure there are plenty jockish gay men around too.

In the same vein I also believe that men and women are largely the same. With the only diferences being overall physical traits. People suggesting women are inherently weaker or something vex me quite a lot.

mixvio said:

That was an excellent article, in my opinion.

I define homophobia as anytime I feel pressured to compromise this crucial part of myself. It is everywhere and always.

This has to be one of the best things I've ever seen written. Too often in games, or discussion around games, (well, gay issues at all, really) do I hear "I'm not a homophobe, I'm not afraid of gay people, I just don't want them to bother me with their gayness." And even though the speaker of that statement doesn't realize it, or actively denies it, their comment comes from a place of fear, even if it's not the fear of being "scared for your life" the way many gay people have felt at various points of their existence.

Whether it was the time I was walking down the street with my boyfriend in a not-particularly-great neighborhood in NYC and he made a kissy face at me and I looked around in terror hoping nobody saw it, or the ongoing experiences I have in online games seeing people call each other fags and debating whether or not it's worth the energy of saying anything, by simple virtue of not being "the default" my life, and the lives of all gay people, are defacto different, even if you have the most loving and supportive families and the most wonderful and well-adjusted support structures.

It's something straight people take for granted and it causes me no level of consternation in discussions, whether about video games or otherwise, especially when you inject any sort of politics into the equation. It's downright depressing at times, too.

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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mixvio on Robert Yang's Handle With Care: That was an excellent article, in my opinion. I define homophobia as anytime I feel pressured to compromise this crucial...

Nexus on Robert Yang's Handle With Care: I agree with his reasoning. I think in general there aren't any inherent real diferences between gay and straigth. I...

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