Happy Pride Day 2017!
This is a bit of a niche post, but it was something I wanted to at least mention. Today, in New York City, is the 46th annual Pride Parade, a day to celebrate our differences and our similarities, and a time for members of the LGBT community and allies to demonstrate support of equal rights for everyone regardless of gender or sexual orientation. It’s also the first Pride Parade that has been televised in full, so hooray for progress!
This got me thinking about video games and representation, because of course it did. And boy, have we come a long way, baby.
An Open Letter to the Gaming Community,
Over the past 40-plus years, we as a society have made progress in terms of inclusion and representation in games. We have gone from LGBT characters being misrepresented, stereotyped, and used as villains or for comic relief, to having characters of all walks of life in video games.
There will always be the Vamps and the Alfred Ashfords (Metal Gear Solid 2 and Resident Evil Code: Veronica, respectively), the Volgins and the Vincente de Santas (Metal Gear Solid 3 and Red Dead Redemption), and the Jean Armstrongs and the Ashs (Pheonix Wright: Ace Attorney and Streets of Rage 3), but we are beginning to see more diverse gender identities and sexual orientations cast in positive lights now, as well.
But not everyone is happy about that.
While I can only speak from my own experiences, I can only imagine how it must be to see “your way” of life be slowly changed in order to better represent the diverse population of the world. It may feel like you are being forced to see things you don’t want to see, and think about things you’d rather ignore, and meet people you’d rather remain far in the closet.
Representation is unfortunately an issue that still needs to be discussed. Hiding behind walls of “we’ve come so far” and “if it’s a non-issue, why keep talking about it?” only hinders our progress toward being truly inclusive. It’s only when someone’s gender or sexual orientation isn’t an issue anymore – when gay people don’t need to worry about being fired from their jobs, losing family or friends, or being seen as a commodity – that we can stop talking about it.
We’re getting there. It’s only through talking about this and being exposed to it that we can become acclimated to things we once perceived as odd, foreign, or “other.” Only then can we – finally – “stop talking about” these things that should not have bearing on our equality or our abilities to live our lives in peace.
I realize with the (rather small) audience I have here, I am preaching to the choir. Most (if not all) of AmbiGaming’s readers visit because they want to discuss video games in an educated way, and so these words will not reach the people I think need to hear them the most. But in case they do…
We don’t want to change your way of life. We don’t want to force you to be uncomfortable. We are simply asking for the same things you have had for so long: to be seen, to be heard, and to be respected. It’s not political correctness; it’s acknowledging we exist.
We want to be represented in media the same way we are represented in life. We are estimated to be at least 20% of the population and yet have rarely enjoyed that percentage of representation in video games.
This is beginning to happen. Of course characters from the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series are often cited as being progressive (if you’re on one side of the issue) or “too politically correct” (if you’re on the other). But characters like Cremisius Aclassi, Samantha Traynor, Steve Cortez, and Sera are, in a way, unique as they all have a definitive orientation and identification, rather than simply being NPCs who will always be attracted to the playable character or fit some stereotypical mold. But there are many other games that are starting to incorporate LGBT characters as normal people, rather than walking stereotypes.
Blizzard made a stir recently by announcing that Tracer from Overwatch is gay, and Life is Strange has Max and Chloe with their love story. Even Ciri from The Witcher 3 comments that she prefers women (although this may be just to keep unwanted advances at bay). And, happily, this is only the beginning of realistic characterizations of people in the LGBT community found in video games nowadays.
So we’re undoubtedly moving in the right direction. We’re becoming a more inclusive community, and striving to make sure all of our members feel welcome and accepted, both on screen and off. And that’s a wonderful thing.
Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you soon,
What’s next? You can like, subscribe, and support if you like what you’ve seen!
– Support us on Patreon become a revered Aegis of AmbiGaming, and access extra content!
– Say hello on Facebook, Twitter, and even Google+!
– Check out our Let’s Plays if you’re really adventurous!