Over on PBS’ new Game Channel, a gaming-centric Youtube series ala their popular Idea Channel (which I highly recommend for plenty of thought provoking nerdity), host Jamin Warren asks, “Are games ready for gay main characters?”
While the video paints broad strokes on the queer side of gaming that we here at GayGamer spend every day exploring, it nonetheless poses some very interesting points of discussion. The most interesting being the issue of player-avatar relationships and how that affects player perception of gay game characters versus gay television characters. It’s that direct connection between player and avatar that is the cause of the white cisgendered heterosexual mid-30s scruffy bearded power fantasy archetypes becoming the industry standard.
And while Warren makes sure to give a shout out to the ever growing gayming community (with shots of gaymer.org, r/gayming, and our pals Matt and Kayce from GaymerX), he ends his presentation by asking if the gaming world could handle a gay main character. Well there are already lots of games not just starring gay characters but lesbian characters, trans characters, and queer identifying characters of all kinds.
It’s just a matter of where you’re looking.
The AAA world offers the occasional moments of well done LGBT inclusivity (see: Bill) but cannot be relied on for anything revolutionary. It’s the indie gaming world where the big risks are being taken. Games like Mainichi, Dragopolis, Dys4ia (which Warren does mention in another video), My Ex-Boyfriend the Space Tyrant, Ultimate Gay Fighter, and the recently funded Read Only Memories, to name a few, are putting people with non-heteronormative identities at the forefront.
I’d be curious to see Warren’s take on these titles, and his thoughts on the the queer indie games scene at large.
In the meantime, I’m going to catch up with the rest of his videos, which includes discussions on gaming-feminism re: Anita Sarkeesian and the relationship between player gender and avatar gender.