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Virtual Games Get into the Real World

April 10, 2011

This is a interesting story that I’d file under ‘Games Grow Up’:

From Kurt in Glee to Captain Jack in Torchwood, from Thirteen in House to Naomi in Skins, recent years have given us a glut of gay and bisexual characters on TV.

Surprisingly, given its macho image, the same has also been true in videogaming. The 2010 game Mass Effect 2 gave the option of a lesbian relationship for those who played the main character as a woman (though not a gay relationship if they played the character as a man). Grand Theft Auto IV produced the downloadable content The Ballad of Gay Tony. And while Hollywood still seems to have a problem hiring gay actors to play gay characters, British-made hit game series Fable has cast Stephen Fry as the louche bisexual character Reaver in all three games.

Now, BioWare, creator of Mass Effect, has robustly defended its decision to include gay relationships in its new role-playing game Dragon Age II.

Players who choose to be a man will be flirted with by another male character, as well as by several female characters. But receiving a male flirt, as well as the lack of “exotic” heterosexual romance choices, disturbed one player who posted angrily on a forum that BioWare was neglecting its “main demographic: the straight male gamer”.

While citing a lone forum post is not more evidence of anger at homosexuality in Dragon Age II that a lone forum post is evidence of faked moon landings.  However there is a point raised – who are games for?  The straight male gamer?  No.  Games are games and anyone can make games and enjoy games.  To try to box them in by some pre-conceived notion of that the players may want (or not) is silly.  Games represent the worlds in which we live – real or otherwise and as the demographics of those who enjoy games grows, so does the subject matter they cover…

And given that Dragon Age II is selling well, it appears there are no shortage of people, male, straight or otherwise, happy to enjoy all it has to offer.

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