Gamer Pride 2017

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.

well-done

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you soon,
~ Athena

 


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19 thoughts on “Gamer Pride 2017

  1. Videogames need to always pander to straight, white males like me! None of this “representation” nonsense! The only representation that’s needed is representing people like me! And maybe women who breathe through their skin!

    Nah, I’m just kidding. I’m really glad to see more variety in gaming. My only wish is that it becomes more common to see in our hobby without resorting to fan service as a justification. Bioware, while being pretty progressive, seems to going the route of just letting the player have sex with everything they meet. I want to see varied characters, but only if they have depth to their personalities. Otherwise, they’re just objects in the game.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha “women who breathe through their skin”! What a silly idea… wait… 😉

      I agree that fan service is *not* the way to go, and BioWare does overdo it at times, with some “romances” feeling like they were just put in there to not upset X group, or to just be a sort of wish fulfillment for the player. Treating characters (regardless of gender or orientation) as objects is never the right way to go.

      But maybe it’s a start? We’re in a weird place socially, so maybe this is all part of the growing pains…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Aw man, I am really glad you made this post. It reminded me there are a lot of things to be thankful for. I mean, yes, recognizing LGBT+ folks are people too is a bit of a low bar, but games are finally passing it and raising it bit by bit. ❤

    P.S: Regarding Ciri, she has one female love interest in the books. Their story isn't all that rose-tinted because the Witcher world is pretty crappy, to be perfectly honest. And um, I think the last book implies she is bi, but I am not entirely sure. It's been a while.

    In the games' universe she seems to be bisexual as well. There is that dialogue option you mentioned, then you can choose to kiss a young man while playing as Ciri, and in the comics she pretty much implies she doesn't mind any kind of "company", but admits dudes test her patience sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really should get on reading all these books. Another reader commented surprise that I’ve never read the Dragon Age or Mass Effect books. It seems like I’m missing important details and was misinformed! (Yes, I know The Witcher was a series of books first haha).

      Yes,acknowledging existence seems like a low bar,, but we *are* getting better as a community. I think as there is more representation, there will either be more “growing pains,” or we will be pleasantly surprised by how much of a non-issue it is. This post, while not fully inspired by the events of Andromeda, definitely was encouraged by some comments about the diversity in Andromeda. While sometimes I do wonder if certain romances are “fan service,” since they aren’t really fleshed out well and seem more like an “objective,” as Shelby and I talked about, I heard comments like “We never had to deal with this [expletive] before, so why are you doing this to us?” Unfortunately that wasn’t just one crazy person taken out of context… So, it’s getting better, but maybe not quite “there” yet.

      There is *so much* to be thankful for and appreciative of, including the fantastic readers here who are thoughtful, sensitive, and so very accepting of people of all kinds! 🙂

      Like

      1. I cannot speak for the Mass Effect books, but the Dragon Age ones give a lot of context and backstory. I think I mentioned it before, but The Masked Empire is basically a lot of revelations about how absolutely awful Orlesian nobility can be. The quality of the books varies due to there being several authors, but that is only expectable. As for The Witcher, I’ll admit I didn’t get into them right from the start, but once they start developing Geralt as a family guy I couldn’t stop reading.

        This is probably my personal bias, but I’d rather developers overdid representation than go back to how things were. I didn’t encounter a positive representation of a gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans character in fiction until I was well into my teens. I am sure I missed a lot of LGBT(mostly gay)-coded characters, but I didn’t encounter an out AND decent character until way after the period of my life where I could have made the most of positive representation.

        Regarding what you said about fan-service, I am wary of titillation disguised as LGBT+ representation. Even if it doesn’t happen in games as much as it has in other media (looking at you premium tv). That said, I don’t have any issues with romance as fantasy. I mean, part of the appeal of video games is fantasy. If it is done in a tasteful, non-exploitative manner, and if it doesn’t render the game unplayable, I don’t see a problem with everyone and their mother being romanceable by the PC.

        On that note, I don’t see anyone in the “we never had to deal with this [expletive]” camp complaining about the over-representation of overpowered, hot twenty-somethings in video games. So, you know, they can deal with the over-representation of LGBT people or be hypocrites about wanting realism in games. *shrug*

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Also, let me add, cheers to your last paragraph! If there are sensitive, thoughtful and open-minded people clustering around this website it’s because the articles are also sensitive. thoughtful and open-minded! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  3. An excellent post 🙂 Sadly I am constantly brushing up against up homophobia when playing online (both casual and serious) although these days racism and sexism are more prevalent. It saddens and depresses me. But things are slowly changing and I sincerely hope Playstation sponsoring Pride is an indication of things to come 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It can be very disheartening to hear yourself (or other people) under attack when trying to simply have fun, and that’s honestly one of the reasons I don’t play online. But yes, I was very excited that Playstation was sponsoring Pride!! We are making progress and have already come such a long way! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Inspiring post! It angers me greatly when I see members of the LGBT community being attacked by the planet’s scumbags, simply for being who they are. I’m so glad gaming is moving in a more inclusive direction (A LOT of games do have respectful LGBT charcters now), but there will always be those misogynist/homophobic trolls that lower my faith in humanity. It’s hard to ignore those tiny idiots when they spew their hatred so loudly. I just try to focus on the positive progress 🙂

    Keep up the great work, Goddess of Wisdom! Oh and I noticed one of your tags was “gaymer”. Awesome, haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Yes, things are definitely getting better, for which I’m very thankful! I remind myself of that every time I hear some ill-informed comment, because we *are* moving forward.

      And thank you, Amazing Heroine of Final Fantasy 13! I will try not to disappoint you.

      …you liked that, huh? haha Glad you noticed 😉 So punny…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. When there’s no longer antigay, transphobic, misogynistic, and racism in video games then posts like this won’t be needed. I love how Mass Effect does Cortez’s character. He’s portrayed as grieving for his deceased spouse as anyone would be, and he’s not a stereotype. He’s an Alliance soldier just like everyone else. It’s actually really encouraging to see a future portrayed where a man can have a husband and mourn for him publicly without having to hide it. There are a lot of LGBTQ people seeing themselves represented in this, and that’s a wonderful thing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen, sister.

      I really did like Steve in Mass Effect 3. He came across as a very real character, experiencing very real emotions, in public, and WITHOUT GETTING CRAP FOR IT. Something to strive for.

      Even Samantha, who was a little quieter about her orientation, was more than just the “obligatory gay woman,” so that was nice to see.

      Anyway, I could babble on about this forever, but it is *definitely* wonderful to see the direction we’re moving in!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I just hope the ‘us vs. them’ reflex starts to die down and doesn’t just switch targets once that happens.

      I rather like Cortez’s tale, largely because honest, personal stories of love are so rare in video games. You get a lot of stories of passion, or short-termed romance, but interacting with someone with an actual long-term relationship, that’s become something special.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I wonder sometimes if “us vs. them” is so hard-wired into us that we will always have to stop, take a breath, and think about accepting others. But even that would be fine, because the last part – acceptance – would happen. But yes, ideally we’d all calm down with always labeling people as “us” or “them.”

        And I agree wholeheartedly with what you said about Cortez’s story, because it’s true. Love is often seen as new or – worse – as an “objective” in a game (intentionally or not), so it was refreshing to see someone with not only an established relationship, but one dealing with a part of romance that is not as “romantic.”

        Liked by 1 person

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