It was previously reported that after only its second year the queer-friendly gaming convention GaymerX would be no more. Numerous reasons were cited for the con’s end, the biggest one being a significant lack of financial support from sponsors...
At this year’s Game Developers Conference, long-time editor and localization specialist Michelle Clough gave a talk about male sexuality in video games. Having covered a few of the same points on gaming’s sexual double standard and the od...
This year’s GaymerX2 was an absolute blast! For those of you who missed the big event we’ve taken some photos of the event for you to check out below. From the show floor to the GayGamer.net Drag Ball to the costume contest and masquerade...
Today Atari has announced their first ever LGBT-themed game, Pridefest. The upcoming social game for tablets and mobile devices puts players in control of their very own pride parade, and tasks them with making it as fabulous as possible while also k...
(A word of caution. Some of the links to articles contained within contain strong language.)
On Tuesday, Wizards of the Coast released the free basic rules to the fifth and newest edition of the most popular RPG franchise, Dungeons & Dragons. Ins...
Many have echoed Nintendo’s sentiment of “social commentary” by claiming that games are “just games”, they’re escapist fantasies, they’re entertainment, and as such, they shouldn’t serve any “political agenda”. But games are not just “escapism”, they’re not just frivolous forays into time-wasting in between reading “Ulysses” or “Animal Farm”, they’re not “just” anything – there’s an entire side to the games industry called serious games! Games, like any medium, like any artform, like any kind of entertainment – both reflect the culture that created it and influences that society’s perspective. As Anna at BorderHouseBlog notes, choosing to abstain from “social commentary” on an issue IS social commentary — any action in a politically-muddied situation is political action. Similarly, Nintendo’s initial decision not to include same-sex relationships – and their subsequent decision not to – did not happen in a vacuum. They happened in an industry already hesitant about, if not inimical to, LGBTQ representation, in a culture where LGBTQ people are already marginalised, poorly represented and discriminated against.
So, it’s important that we have interesting and engaging relationship options – but it’s also important that these options don’t undermine themselves by cutting corners, which can lead to perpetuating tired stereotypes without commentary, creating one-size-fits-all mechanisms that take away nuance and context, and sending out mixed messages.
Unfortunately, the games industry has done all three of these things repeatedly over the years, to the point that whenever games include relationships or romance options that aren’t your regular cis-heteronormative man-kisses-woman-and-they-marry fare, they tend to be cliché, crude, or conflicted. And that’s if they include them in the first place.
But in this month’s Queer Mechanic, we’re not talking about “the gay romance option”. We’re talking about romance options, plural – using game mechanics to explore how we could model and represent alternative relationship structures like polyamory, open relationships, D/s relationships and more, and the possibilities and difficulties these bring with them.
From the first installment on – way back in the year 2000 – The Sims has had a venerable history of giving players choice in how to form relationships, shrugging off the restrictive heterosexual-only mechanics that have hamstrung more recent games like Tomodachi Life. It turns out, however, that not all parts of the real world have been progressing in the right direction either, resulting in The Sims 4, the series’ latest installment, running afoulof Russia’s infamous “gay propaganda” law.
Sometimes it’s better to just not say anything at all. The last time Nintendo released a statement on Tomodachi Life, there was plenty of backlash for the problematic way they chose to phrase things. Using a word like ‘strange’ in regard to, among other things caused by a glitch, the appearance of same-sex couples in the game probably wasn’t the best choice. You’d think after that mess Nintendo would learn to just stop talking about these kinds of things. That’s what most companies do.
But then, after finding out about gaymer Tye Marini’s #Miiquality movement, they went and released a statement on the issue of same-sex marriage in Tomodachi Life. A really bad one, no less:
“Nintendo never intended to make any form of social commentary with the launch of Tomodachi Life. The relationship options in the game represent a playful alternate world rather than a real-life simulation. We hope that all of our fans will see that ‘Tomodachi Life’ was intended to be a whimsical and quirky game, and that we were absolutely not trying to provide social commentary.
The ability for same-sex relationships to occur in the game was not part of the original game that launched in Japan, and that game is made up of the same code that was used to localize it for other regions outside of Japan.”
Tomodachi Life is on the way to the United States and Europe this June and, as previously reported, the quirky title will not feature same-sex relationships. At least not without some trickery on the part of the player. By making male Miis with female features one could create what appears to be a lesbian couple in the game, for example. And many players did exactly that, posting cute pics of their gay Miis on twitter with the hashtag #homokore.
Separate from this trend was a game-breaking bug that also created the appearance of in-game same-sex relationships. A very poorly worded, when translated, statement on the issue from Nintendo sparked its own big gay controversy by referring to the appearance of same-sex couples as ‘strange’.
But let’s put all of that aside. Bottom line is, controversy or no, there aren’t any same-sex romance options in Tomodachi Life.
So what’s a gaymer to do? Some have turned to boycotting the game, while others like myself are eager to get our hands on the game in spite of it lacking queer options.
Gay gamer Tyeforce, taking a cue from #homokore, is taking to social media to get his voice heard.
Gaming in Color, the first ever documentary about queer issues in video games, has finally made its debut! Kickstarted in early 2013, the film explores the rise of the gay gaming community, from games that have made waves for queer representations to the creation and importance of safe spaces for gaymers like QG Con and GaymerX.