Archive for the ‘Feature’ Category


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June 12
2014

E3 2014: Square Enix Brings Same-Sex Marriage to Final Fantasy XIV

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Square Enix disappointed me at this year’s E3. Their lineup looked remarkably similar to last year’s, and the highly anticipated (and eight years in development) Final Fantasy XV as well as Kingdom Hearts III were absolutely nowhere to be found. Instead we got an HD remake of a bunch of old games, a mobile rhythm title, and yet another huge push for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. But then, during a live roundtable discussion of the recently relaunched MMORPG producer Naoki Yoshida made an announcement that put quite the smile on my face.

Gay marriage is coming to the world of Eorzea.

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June 5
2014

Major Game Companies Join GaymerX2

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GaymerX2 is only five weeks away (how time flies!). This year may be the queer gaming convention’s last for the foreseeable future, but it’s going to go out with a bang. While event organizer Matt Conn has previously expressed his frustration with major game companies being unwilling to support GX2, today it’s been announced that several well known game-makers are putting their money where their pro-gay mouths are, making appearances at the show. Ubisoft, NIS America, and OUYA have all stepped up to show support for their LGBTQ fans, joining the previously announced BioWare, Indicade, and Cards Against Humanity.

Via GaymerX2:

Major Game Companies Double Down on Equality and Diversity in Gaming

Ubisoft®, NIS America and OUYA join Cards Against Humanity and IndieCade for GaymerX

Friday, June 6 – San Francisco – In light of the recent attention towards corporate support of LGBTQ audiences and on the heels of E3, three major game publishers — Ubisoft, NIS America  and OUYA have stepped up in a show of solidarity in support of their LGBTQ players. All three companies will be present at this year’s GaymerX convention in San Francisco, California on July 11-13. Each will be joining the convention, a celebration of LGBT influence in gaming and geek culture, in various ways including panels, workshops, events, and  goodies for attendees.”

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May 28
2014

It’s Hard Being Tomodachi With Corporations

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Recently, an uproar tore out across the internets when Nintendo decided not to include same-sex relationships in their life-sim game Tomodachi Life; people were incensed, Nintendo issued a fairly standard apology, people were mildly more optimistic but also still kind of sore. In response, there have been questions, confusions and concerns from folk criticising the backlash against Nintendo, for various reasons.

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.

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May 20
2014

Queer Mechanic #6: Relationships

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Relationship mechanics have become enormously popular in recent years, to the extent that it”s not uncommon to see forum threads of speculation about whether certain characters in games can be “romanced”, guides for the optimal way to romantically engage with Love Interests (LIs), or discussing the difficulties inherent in romance options in games. The creation of engaging and interesting romance options and mechanics is something that’s vital, timely, and, most importantly, wanted.

Nonetheless, implementing romance options isn’t as easy as just rubbing one character on another until hearts pop out (…figuratively speaking). For example,the complexity of the sexual politics involved in Dragon Age: Origins alone is staggering, before we even get to what Denis Farr refers to as the “Schroedinger’s Sexuality” of Dragon Age II and the fact that some players had reservations about how the in-game Love Interests were portrayed as “playersexual” rather than bisexual – that is, there is little-to-no reference to their sexual orientation except in the case of when the player-character puts the moves on them. And, in those instances when romance mechanics go wrong, they can go really wrong: case in point, Gaygamer’s Trevor Smith’s discussion of the abject horror of badly-implemented romance mechanics resulting in a deeply creepy ‘romance’ scene.

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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.

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May 15
2014

Russia Rates Sims 4 Adults-Only Due To Same-Sex Relationships

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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 afoul of Russia’s infamous “gay propaganda” law.

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May 9
2014

Nintendo Apologizes For Tomodachi Life’s Lack of Same-Sex Relationships

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Well that sure was quick. After spending the day no doubt dodging countless questions, insults, and boycott threats regarding Tomodachi Life‘s lack of same-sex options the big N has issued an apology.

It’s a start, right?

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May 7
2014

Nintendo Says No to #Miiquality

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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.”

Here we go. Again.

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