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October 6, 2009 12:38 PM   Subscribe

Robert Yang on the homophobic response to his Half-Life 2 mod Handle With Care.
posted by Artw (145 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Mario always wished that Luigi would need to be rescued someday.
posted by oddman at 12:58 PM on October 6, 2009


Dude, they're brothers.
posted by Artw at 12:59 PM on October 6, 2009 [8 favorites]


Mario and Luigi are brothers. Keep it on topic!
posted by demiurge at 12:59 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually, this is a good article. For all the talk there has been of having gay characters on prime-time television, there are hardly any gay player characters in video games. I think The Sims is one of the notable games in this area for how it handles homosexual relationships.
posted by demiurge at 1:04 PM on October 6, 2009


This is the first non-zero-punctuation-thing I've ever enjoyed reading on the escapist. Don't let the fact that it's on the escapist prevent you from reading it. It's interesting.
posted by fuq at 1:05 PM on October 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Can you really teabag the enemy in Counter Strike?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:07 PM on October 6, 2009


I think The Sims is one of the notable games in this area for how it handles homosexual relationships.

Yes, clearly the best way to show gays in videogames is as little dolls with mouths you can press together.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 1:10 PM on October 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's true; games are far more hetronormative than other art forms. We're only just reaching the point where story is focussed on outside of RPGs, and the financial risk in mainstream games just means that any story has to be salable across the world. It's not just Americans that suffer from homophobia (hello Japan).
posted by jaduncan at 1:10 PM on October 6, 2009


PeterMcDermott: "Can you really teabag the enemy in Counter Strike?"

You can crouch and uncrouch on top of people's dead bodies, which is symbolic of the act.
posted by TypographicalError at 1:12 PM on October 6, 2009


HANDLE WITH CARE: You're struggling to repress stressful memories while your worthless husband moans and whines to that equally worthless marriage counselor.

Wow. Someone is a bitter gamer.
posted by stormpooper at 1:13 PM on October 6, 2009


PeterMcDermott: "Can you really teabag the enemy in Counter Strike?"

You can crouch and uncrouch on top of people's dead bodies, which is symbolic of the act.


Sadly, this is far from limited to just Counter Strike.
posted by MidAtlantic at 1:18 PM on October 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


PeterMcDermott: "Can you really teabag the enemy in Counter Strike?"

I could be wrong, but I think the situation is that there is a "squat" maneuver, and it is a humiliation ritual for the players to do that maneuver over a dead enemy. So yeah you can teabag, but you can only teabag corpses.

I think.
posted by idiopath at 1:19 PM on October 6, 2009


Yes, clearly the best way to show gays in videogames is as little dolls with mouths you can press together.

Name any other game that treats heterosexual and homosexual relationships as neutrally as The Sims does. And this is one of the biggest game franchises out there. Sure, The Sims isn't particularly realistic, but I don't see how you could see it as anything other than a step forward.
posted by demiurge at 1:21 PM on October 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yes, clearly the best way to show gays in videogames is as little dolls with mouths you can press together.

But in the Sims, the straight people are also little dolls with mouths you can press together.

The reason that the way The Sims handles gay relationships is notable, is because they are essentially no different at all. A Sim basically starts with no real preference to either gender, and you can let their love interest happen naturally. Or, you can nudge them along towards a man or a woman and after romantic interest sparks, they will tend to prefer that gender, though you can always get them to fall for pretty much anyone if you try hard enough and the personalities arent totally incompatible.

The only practical different with gay relationships is that they can't get pregnant with each other. They can adopt just like the hetero couples though.


I wish more games would start to have more diverse protagonists. There's only so many times you can play as the "hot tough guy" or the "hot tough chick" who may or may not have chips on their hot shoulders.


re: teabagging, the above descriptions are accurate. You can "teabag" a fallen enemy, generally as a way of shaming, and this is definitely not limited to CS. In pretty much all Source games, you can also spray an image on the wall or the ground and this is also used as another shaming vector when your opponent has been suffeciently pwned.
posted by utsutsu at 1:22 PM on October 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


After reading through the first page of the forum post linked in the response it seems that Robert Yang is slightly homophobicphobic. Where exactly is this shitstorm of homophobia i was expecting?

Unless he's referring to the typically internetishly erudite frist post. My god how long you been on the internet for Robert? Perhaps you should have written a game where the main character is and overly sensitive douche.
posted by carfilhiot at 1:25 PM on October 6, 2009


Name any other game that treats heterosexual and homosexual relationships as neutrally as The Sims does.

Second Life and IMVU (There) aren't exactly "games" in the traditional sense, but they both *seem* very neutral toward homosexual (and interspecies, for that matter) relationships.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:26 PM on October 6, 2009


And then you would find out, whether from seeing the name "James" so often or from reading forum posts - that I had managed to "trick" you into playing as a homosexual male.
I like this concept and would like to take it one step further:

I always wanted to write a book: a novel, complete with dialog, emotions, love affairs, jealousy, soulmates finding each other, strong friendships developing through obstacles overcome - and after it was basically complete I'd flip a coin to assign a biological gender to each of the characters.

I wonder if that wouldn't be much easier to do in a computer game: record the spoken dialog with two voice actors, male and female, for each character, create two character models each, and then randomize the genders for each playthrough. You might end up with an all-female party, two of whom fall in love with the protagonist and she has to decide which lover to choose, and they set out to free the captured prince who has been ensnared by the beauty of the dark emperor.
It would be a nice blow to the gender stereotypes that are currently prevailing in many games, and it would have the added bonus of making people question sexual identity and the validity of judging relations based on nothing more than biology.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 1:26 PM on October 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


A game where players inhabit a gay character is a fantastic use of the medium, and while the homophobic reaction totally sucks, these sorts of "controversies" are really important if games are going to grow into a serious art form.

If a painting is unique because it is flat, and music is unique because it manipulates time and sound, then gaming is unique because it has access to the variable of control. What happens when you can't control a character's sexuality, but you can control a subset of his actions? Can this arrangement make players walk in someone else's shoes in a more literal way than can any other medium? These are the sorts of possibilities that open up when you treat games as art, and I am fascinated by them.
posted by martens at 1:27 PM on October 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yes, clearly the best way to show gays in videogames is as little dolls with mouths you can press together.

As utsutsu said, the Sims handles gay characters perfectly, which is to say they get no special treatment pro or con. You want a household of two moms and an adopted kid? Or two bachelors who happened to have one bed? No problem. The game says nothing about it, doesn't restrict you from doing it, and just keeps on working as expected. I can't think of a better way to handle it, actually. I'd happily let my kids encounter that aspect of the game: it's completely non-judgmental and by-the-way. Very well done.

The only other game I've seen do the 'no big deal' treatment well was Rockstar's Bully (yes really), a sort of sandbox GTA-style game in a private school. You play a male teenager, and one of the sanctioned in-game way to receive a health boost is by negotiating a consensual kiss from any teenaged girl... or from some boys.

This isn't mentioned or explained in the tutorial or manual. It just works... naturally.
posted by rokusan at 1:31 PM on October 6, 2009 [11 favorites]


I expected criticism of my work, but to me there were far more pressing issues than the player character's sexual orientation.

Yeah, from the linked forum, it seems like most of the commenters are focusing as much on other criticisms of the game rather than the sexual orientation of James.

He really seems to be stretching here. I'm sure somewhere there are people bitching about the gays, but not in that link.

This seems to be a valid concern:

While I appreciate the artistry of the introduction, I think it actively detracted from the piece, honestly. Because, if the player is not themselves gay, they're likely to spend the whole game completely out of character, trying to figure out just exactly why they're supposed to give a damn.

It almost seems like the author was *hoping* for some gay-bashing so he could get an Escapist article out of it.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:32 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, I'm really looking forward to the halcyon future where we don't care what consenting adults do in private, and gay gamers don't feel the need to Make A Point with their game-engine mods.

I guess I'm just tired of the whole conversation; I get it, I'm totally in favor of gay marriage... marry any damn person you want. But I am not gay, nor will I ever be, and trying to put me in someone's shoes who is notable because they're gay is missing a key bit of resonance with my life. Make them notable because they're notable, not because of who they like to screw.
posted by Malor at 1:35 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I dunno.

I (sort of) feel him on the "I don't get to escape," angle but like... actually I do. I even play online games in addition to single player stuff.

On the other hand, I also have given up on ever playing an online game where queer and its homonyms aren't the preferred epithets. With the exception of one server for one dead HL mod where I could kick and ban people for calling each other faggots. That was pretty satisfying.

For the most part, though, I guess I wouldn't blow my anger on videogames. The 'net is one of those places where you can create and defend little enclaves of cool people, ignore everyone else, and it works out ok. Then when it comes to stuff that matters (DADT, marriage) you can work up a really good, frothy head of righteous fury.
posted by kavasa at 1:36 PM on October 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


While I appreciate the artistry of the introduction, I think it actively detracted from the piece, honestly. Because, if the player is not themselves gay, they're likely to spend the whole game completely out of character, trying to figure out just exactly why they're supposed to give a damn.

...unlike gay male gamers or straight female gamers or asexual gamers of all stripes, who can be so easily forced into accepting that their character has to lust over teh hott booobies?

I haven't played the mod, so maybe I'm completely wrong in thinking that this is another situation where it is assumed that the straight male perspective is the "normal" perspective.
posted by muddgirl at 1:39 PM on October 6, 2009 [27 favorites]


It's true; games are far more hetronormative than other art forms.

I think it's because the medium is still insecure. People do attack movies and music as a whole, but far less often and less effectively than they do to video games. It's mainstreaming rapidly, but it's still far from being an established pillar of culture.

We're only just reaching the point where story is focussed on outside of RPGs...

Well, this is neither good nor bad. Games can have stories, but they can also be fine without them.
posted by ignignokt at 1:42 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


mrgrimm: "This seems to be a valid concern:

While I appreciate the artistry of the introduction, I think it actively detracted from the piece, honestly. Because, if the player is not themselves gay, they're likely to spend the whole game completely out of character, trying to figure out just exactly why they're supposed to give a damn.
"

well, that doesn't hold a whole lot of water for me. It's like saying men spent the whole of their time playing Tomb Raider trying to figure out just exactly why they're supposed to give a damn, or that people who are neither italian nor a plumber won't understand why they should give a damn about mario. Samus Aran is a woman. Should I have a problem giving a damn about Metroid? If the main character being gay is a problem for a given player, I can't help but feel like that's not the game's fault.
posted by shmegegge at 1:43 PM on October 6, 2009 [13 favorites]


I don't see how you could see it as anything other than a step forward.

Oh, I don't really see it as a bad thing. I see it as flipping a few switches in the programming so if someone wants to do it they can. The Sims doesn't seem to me like it's really set up to say anything interesting about homosexual relationships, though if someone did something like Alice and Kev with it I'd admit I'm wrong.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 1:43 PM on October 6, 2009


Robert "Campaignjunkie" Yang designs levels and weird pretentious art-house mods for Half-Life 2.

... the first person shooter without any shooting.


I may be wholly off-base, but I would have imagined that gun-free art-house mods wouldn't have typical FPS players. I guess some people will play (and complain) about anything, even if the description should filter them out. But it didn't, even with the description: Radiator, vol. 1 issue 2 (July 2009): HANDLE WITH CARE. You're struggling to repress stressful memories while your worthless husband moans and whines to that equally worthless marriage counselor.

Most comments were positive and seemed to have known what they were getting into, but some still stumbled in without knowing about Teh Gay:
so i play as a faggot? it looked pretty and had good potential (even though i cant spell) but i guess not my kinda game.
Good potential for what? As stated by the game designer: "You are a human forklift in videogame purgatory." Were you thinking there would be some defusing of explosives? Kids ...
posted by filthy light thief at 1:47 PM on October 6, 2009


Malor: "But I am not gay, nor will I ever be, and trying to put me in someone's shoes who is notable because they're gay is missing a key bit of resonance with my life."

what about simiply offering you the opportunity to put yourself in their shoe's? is that also a problem?

Make them notable because they're notable, not because of who they like to screw.

which is an odd takeaway from the article, if you read it. here's a line from it:
Why, if you had happened to miss the word "partner," you may have missed the fact that "Handle With Care" is about a gay relationship at all.
which, as I read it, implies that there's more to the game than being gay. that, in fact, being gay is not central to the story any more than being hetero is to any other game. what is it, precisely, that makes you think the character is only notable for "who they like to screw?"
posted by shmegegge at 1:48 PM on October 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


jesus, the typos. THE TYPOS!
posted by shmegegge at 1:51 PM on October 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


A Sim basically starts with no real preference to either gender

Actually, there's a study that shows scientists have isolated it to a particular pixel.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 1:52 PM on October 6, 2009 [15 favorites]


It's true; games are far more hetronormative than other art forms.

I don't see this as a case of homophobia. Games are mostly about what you do in them, and a game can say a lot without having characters with a lot of depth to them. In some games there are characters that you meet and get to know enough that whether or not they are gay is somehow important, but that really isn't all that common.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 1:54 PM on October 6, 2009


Also: The Sims does not have the same audience as First Person Shooters (unless I misunderstand the kids I've seen buying and playing FPS games). Citing The Sims as a valid gaming option against FPS games is apples and oranges: both food, but still not the same thing.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:55 PM on October 6, 2009


But I am not gay a blue hedgehog, nor will I ever be, and trying to put me in someone's shoes who is notable because they're gay a blue hedgehog is missing a key bit of resonance with my life.

FTFY?
posted by juv3nal at 1:55 PM on October 6, 2009 [21 favorites]


I've teabagged someone in City of Heroes, when I tried to rez them (they were on my team) and they'd gone AFK without telling anyone, so the rez was wasted. But I was playing a female character at the time, so I guess that I... tea-leaved them?
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:56 PM on October 6, 2009


When I used to play GoldenEye with my roommates, I almost never picked the female characters. Does that make me anti-woman, or did I simply prefer to play characters that I most closely identified with?

I think a lot of video-gaming is about escapism and fantasy, and part of the fantasy is identifying with the character, so while I'm not anti-gay character, I don't closely identify with one. (Of course, I'm clearly not a gamer, so YMMV.)

Things were a lot easier back in the day when the only choices you had were an iron, a thimble, a racecar, a hat, and a battleship.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 1:56 PM on October 6, 2009


The problem SeizeTheDay, is that the majority of people have no choice but to pick a character that they don't "closely identify" with. Alternately, we are all expected to identify with the straight white male character. This is true for movies, as well.
posted by muddgirl at 2:01 PM on October 6, 2009 [15 favorites]


rokusan: As utsutsu said, the Sims handles gay characters perfectly, which is to say they get no special treatment pro or con.

Not quite. In the vanilla unmodded Sims2 same-sex relationships were not called marriages and didn't trigger all of the marriage lifetime wants introduced in the expansion packs. Other than that, someone else noted that sims don't really have a behavioral gender beyond pregnancy.

unknown quoted author: While I appreciate the artistry of the introduction, I think it actively detracted from the piece, honestly. Because, if the player is not themselves gay, they're likely to spend the whole game completely out of character, trying to figure out just exactly why they're supposed to give a damn.

Yes, just like I have trouble figuring out why I give a damn as a survivor of a plague that turned me into a zombie, a female reporter who happens to be the scion of an alien menace, a man washed up in an undersea dystopia, or an Italian plumber, given that I'm none of these things in real life.

Malor: You know, I'm really looking forward to the halcyon future where we don't care what consenting adults do in private, and gay gamers don't feel the need to Make A Point with their game-engine mods.

Well, if we take the developer at his word, the point is that you as a protagonist are engaged in tasks against the existential backdrop of a floundering marital relationship. That relationship is likely to be heterosexual or homosexual.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:01 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Or to pick another game from the Half-Life universe, it didn't seem that most gamers had trouble identifying with a woman of ambiguous ethnicity for Portal.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:05 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, I'm really looking forward to the halcyon future where we don't care what consenting adults do in private
.. or in public, like sitting on a park bench, holding hands, kissing ...

and gay gamers don't feel the need to Make A Point with their game-engine mods.
His point is that the life of a gay couple is quite similar to that of a straight couple, and if you don't catch a few key words, you wouldn't know that the couple are two dudes.

I am not gay, nor will I ever be, and trying to put me in someone's shoes who is notable because they're gay is missing a key bit of resonance with my life. Make them notable because they're notable, not because of who they like to screw.
In this case, those shoes are pretty unisex in design, and I don't think there's any screwing in the game. Maybe you can tea bag someone, maybe you can't. But you might be missing the issue if you think gay rights are the rights to screw another dude (or another lady).

But I was playing a female character at the time, so I guess that I... tea-leaved them?
Dammit, Halloween Jack - now I'll look all forms of tea, bagged and loose leaf, with a juvenile sense of humor.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:06 PM on October 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


which is an odd takeaway from the article, if you read it. here's a line from it:

Why, if you had happened to miss the word "partner," you may have missed the fact that "Handle With Care" is about a gay relationship at all.

which, as I read it, implies that there's more to the game than being gay. that, in fact, being gay is not central to the story any more than being hetero is to any other game. what is it, precisely, that makes you think the character is only notable for "who they like to screw?"


Maybe it depends on how the relationship is presented.

If I were presented with a relationship between two men and there's a complicated story, and it's not resolved until the end that I have a sexual relationship with the other man, I'm going to be confused.

I agree that heterosexuality should not be an assumed norm. but it *sounds* (since I have not played the game) like the author was *hoping* for a "aha! you're gay!" moment at the end, which seems a little cheap.

Again, this is all third-hand opinion. I don't have Steam/HL2E2 to try it ...
posted by mrgrimm at 2:11 PM on October 6, 2009


But I am not gay, nor will I ever be, and trying to put me in someone's shoes who is notable because they're gay is missing a key bit of resonance with my life.

This literally misses the entire point of this article, which is that the fact that the character in this mod is gay isn't notable. It isn't relevant to the gameplay or the story of the game. The only thing that makes it notable is people's reaction to the fact.

I almost never picked the female characters. Does that make me anti-woman, or did I simply prefer to play characters that I most closely identified with?

Golly, I wonder if gay gamers ever feel like they would like to play characters that they most closely identify with? I wonder if they ever feel like making mild, basically non-confrontational statements about the fact that the choice is basically never available by to them and seeing if it makes a bunch of totally not anti-gay gamers who just prefer to play characters they most closely identify with freak right out?
posted by nanojath at 2:16 PM on October 6, 2009 [10 favorites]


Because videogames need to innovate through new mechanics and narratives, to incorporate new voices and perspectives - because we need to evolve past the same male power fantasies, those same damn games with big-muscled, half-naked men shooting their big thick ... railguns ... all over each other's faces.

He's confusing gaming as a whole with first person shooters.

A huge chunk of the FPS market, if not a majority, are military based. A lot of the ones that aren't are secret service, ex military, or future military. It's not realistic to make these characters gay, and I believe realism is pretty high up on the list of things FPS fanboys want. It's tokenism.
posted by fire&wings at 2:18 PM on October 6, 2009


Name any other game that treats heterosexual and homosexual relationships as neutrally as The Sims does.

The Temple of Elemental Evil (2003), based on the classic D&D adventure, developed by Troika Games and published by Atari, featured a pirate named Bertram. Bertram would flirt with male party members, and under the right circumstances, would marry one of them (heterosexual marriages were also a possibility with other NPCs). This is presented completely neutrally, just another choice you can make if you wish.

You might also want to check out GayGamer's articles about gay videogame characters. Not all of them are "neutral" representations, but they're generally neutral-to-positive.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 2:18 PM on October 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's been a while since I played on Xbox Live (handle is the same--feel friend to friend me, but I'm mostly Netflixing over Live these days...), but it really is a cesspool. Most of the time, I just played music with the communicator turned down rather than listen to my teammates--it was just an unending barrage of slurs, slanders and calumnies.

I would love to play this mod, though.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:20 PM on October 6, 2009


You can crouch and uncrouch on top of people's dead bodies, which is symbolic of the act.

Sadly, this is far from limited to just Counter Strike.


Though I'm pretty sure it's where the meme originated. At the very least, the Beta versions of CS were the ground zero where I first witnessed it before seeing it spread everywhere else.

Sadly, the adolescents (of every age) who found this kind of thing to be the height of humor were the very people that more or less turned me off of online gaming in general.
posted by quin at 2:21 PM on October 6, 2009


A huge chunk of the FPS market, if not a majority, are military based. A lot of the ones that aren't are secret service, ex military, or future military. It's not realistic to make these characters gay, and I believe realism is pretty high up on the list of things FPS fanboys want. It's tokenism.

I think you might have one correct statement in that mess.
posted by kmz at 2:28 PM on October 6, 2009 [8 favorites]


A huge chunk of the FPS market, if not a majority, are military based. A lot of the ones that aren't are secret service, ex military, or future military. It's not realistic to make these characters gay, and I believe realism is pretty high up on the list of things FPS fanboys want. It's tokenism. are teenage boys, and act like it.
posted by Artw at 2:32 PM on October 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


fire&wings: A huge chunk of the FPS market, if not a majority, are military based. A lot of the ones that aren't are secret service, ex military, or future military. It's not realistic to make these characters gay, and I believe realism is pretty high up on the list of things FPS fanboys want. It's tokenism.

Because the military is loaded with particle physicists (HL), possibly cloned experimental test subjects (Portal), and Native American alien fighters (Prey).
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:32 PM on October 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Liner notes for Handle with Care. WARNING: SPOILERS, but there are a lot of well-worded comments on the game and gameplay (this is also the source of the quote "Re relese [sic] the game without the GAY!"). The 5th comment includes this line:
Homosexuality is a character trait of the protagonist, not the driving force of the gameplay, the plot, or the meaning.
With that, I don't think there's any "aha, you're GAY!" moment in the game.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:32 PM on October 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


as far as I can tell only one person said anything negative about the fact that the mod included a homosexual relationship.

overreact much?
posted by ruthsarian at 2:33 PM on October 6, 2009


With that, I don't think there's any "aha, you're GAY!" moment in the game.

Really you'd want the equivalent of the UK video for Smack My Bitch Up, though somehow I doubt that adolescent FPS players would be as shocked and appalled if their character turned out to be a hot geh laydee at the end.
posted by Artw at 2:36 PM on October 6, 2009


A huge chunk of the FPS market, if not a majority, are military based. A lot of the ones that aren't are secret service, ex military, or future military. It's not realistic to make these characters gay,

That's right, because there were no gay servicement in World War II, and we know that no modern-day armies have gay soldiers and officers.

Oh, wait...
posted by rodgerd at 2:40 PM on October 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


But I am not gay a blue hedgehog

I'm pretty sure there was a Tails/Knuckles cartridge that physically mounted Sonic, and which - when complicated by the arrival of the Game Genie - resembled a stack of silicon fucking. The whole megadrive aesthetic was a sex tower.
posted by kid ichorous at 2:42 PM on October 6, 2009


When I used to play GoldenEye with my roommates, I almost never picked the female characters. Does that make me anti-woman, or did I simply prefer to play characters that I most closely identified with?

Actually, it makes you smart, since the female characters were shorter and thus slightly more likely to get shot in the head. This is also true of Oddjob, but he was so damn tiny that he was also harder to hit in general, even though his little head was level with the default aim. Don't even get me started on Jaws and Baron Whatshisname with his huge stupid white hat that was just begging for headshots.

In summary, GoldenEye was racist against nonstandard character models but surprisingly nonracist against scientists.
posted by Copronymus at 2:46 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Because the military is loaded with particle physicists (HL), possibly cloned experimental test subjects (Portal), and Native American alien fighters (Prey).

I figured on a couple of responses and the above is really my point. Where and when are the homosexuals who have served in military history and military present and how are they singled out in FPS computer games? What does he propose? How does he know he hasn't played as a homosexual?

Short of an option to choose your own sexuality at the start I don't see how this might change FPS, but then I don't design or play many games.
posted by fire&wings at 2:46 PM on October 6, 2009


Things were a lot easier back in the day when the only choices you had were an iron, a thimble, a racecar, a hat, and a battleship.

Hate to be the one to break it to you, but, that thimble is pretty gay, and the whole time you were stuck in that jail cell without your $200, the other inmates were teabagging you.

Your childhood was not as innocent as you thought....
posted by mannequito at 2:46 PM on October 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


In the vast majority of videogames it's never clear what the sexuality of the main character is. Especially in non-RPG games. There are a million FPS games where the character could well be gay, it's never specified at all either way.

So the "heteronormative" argument to me only applies to those games where the sexual preference is knowable, otherwise that just seems like projection.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:47 PM on October 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Copronymus - Fuck you! Baron Samedi has an awesome hat!
posted by Artw at 2:50 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's right, because there were no gay servicement in World War II, and we know that no modern-day armies have gay soldiers and officers.

Oh, wait...


They all wear the same uniform. What changes do you propose? One of your troop humming Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood as you prepare to storm Omaha Beach, so we know one of them is definitely gay?
posted by fire&wings at 2:52 PM on October 6, 2009


The Sims is one of the notable games in this area for how it handles homosexual relationships

Fable 2 lets you get gay married, too.
posted by empath at 2:54 PM on October 6, 2009


Most of the time my own inner teenager basically just wants characters not to waste time on kissing or cut-scenes or any of that crap and just get on with the important business of killing stuff, videogame producers pretensions of having a narrative or proper character so they can be respected as an artform or (more likely pretend to be Hollywood directors making amovie) be damned.
posted by Artw at 2:56 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


wildcrdj: "So the "heteronormative" argument to me only applies to those games where the sexual preference is knowable, otherwise that just seems like projection."

I can see why you think this, but the idea behind games being "heteronormative" isn't that (here comes the caps lock) ALL CHARACTERS ARE NECESSARILY STRAIGHT, or anything like that. it's that when their sexuality comes into play, it is almost always hetero. when gay sexuality is present in the game, it is exceptionally rare, and it is exceptionally difficult for a gay gamer to find an identifiably gay character to play.

not to say that you intended this, but the whole "most characters' sexual preference isn't known" thing wildly misses the point, and is kind of a canard.
posted by shmegegge at 2:58 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I also have given up on ever playing an online game where queer and its homonyms aren't the preferred epithets.

VS 'The Real World' where such doesn't happen.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:01 PM on October 6, 2009


They all wear the same uniform. What changes do you propose? One of your troop humming Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood as you prepare to storm Omaha Beach, so we know one of them is definitely gay?

Posit:

An RPG (In my head it kinda works like Baldur's Gate 2 cause that's when I stopped playing games regularly) set during WW2. You can throw some points into intellectual/creative points whose purpose isn't obvious until later. Say one of the elements is Language. As you level up, you can understand more and more of the foreign chatter. (Like more and more words are clear until you read/hear them all. Obviously this would cause problems if the player was *already* fluent in French or German, but you could have all unknown languages represented by Simish or something).

The skill becomes *really* important in one possible side-quest. You have to rescue a spy team behind enemy lines. This is the only way to get a strong commander character or join his team or whatever. He really needs someone to rescue this team cause it's being led by an old buddy of his ..a real ...close ...buddy.
posted by The Whelk at 3:01 PM on October 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


So, yeah, I get that Robert is gay, and that he's trying to make a subtle statement with this mod, but jesus, he needs to do a little study about internalized homophobia:

There are no references to rainbows, Stonewall, Lady Gaga, Project Runway, Broadway musicals or how "beer tastes icky."

Okay, the "beer tastes icky" part aside (where the fuck did that come from?) I can see the implicit depiction of the stereotypical homosexual in this, and it's not that awful. But later?

The game never asks you to prance about and shop for vintage clothing or chat with your mom about the latest episode of Gossip Girl.

Um... buy into that stereotype much? Feeling any self-loathing about how you are depicting your sexual orientation, Robert? Because it seems like you have some issues.

So much of what this article says seems to be worth saying, and the last half-to-third of it is well-written and cogent. But remember -- blog entries are largely a text-only medium, and what you wrote in the first half either shows you have a poor understanding of how to convey humor online, or that you really need to book a few months of bi-weekly sessions with your therapist so you can work things out.
posted by hippybear at 3:03 PM on October 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


fire&wings and wildcrdj: Sure, and I'm not one for the point of view that videogames must have a plot, much less one in which the protagonist's sexuality plays a role. But considering that sexuality does play a role in many games: Braid, Donkey Kong, GTA, Silent Hill 2, and many RPGs, it's ludicrous to think that all those pairings are inevitably going to be heterosexual.

They all wear the same uniform. What changes do you propose? One of your troop humming Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood as you prepare to storm Omaha Beach, so we know one of them is definitely gay?

Pardon. Exactly who is arguing that because an experimental non-violent game using an FPS engine portrays a same sex relationship, that an FPS set on Omaha Beach should have one?

Now if I was going to do an FPS about gay soldiers on Omaha beach, I could certainly use a cut-scene to establish character and pathos. Perhaps the last thing you see before jumping into the surf and facing the enemy is a creased photograph you stuff into a pocket next to your heart. Then again, I might just skip over that because as Artw points out, you want to get to the meat of the story.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:06 PM on October 6, 2009


Meat of the game play, not story.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:06 PM on October 6, 2009


So, how does the gravity gun factor into this mod?
posted by Burhanistan at 3:08 PM on October 6, 2009



So, how does the gravity gun factor into this mod?


Oh man, if you have to ask.....
posted by The Whelk at 3:08 PM on October 6, 2009


And, um, if all you want from your HL2 expansions is a simple no-nonsense level where you mow down the aliens, what are you doing downloading something that's advertised as experimental and non-violent?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:12 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nobody made this much of a fuss when Cloud got into a hot tub with about 6 naked guys. Or when he dressed in drag.

Also? In Bully, if you kissed all the kissable boys, you got an achievement. It was called "The Rainbow Connection". Rockstar, I <3 your subversity. Distract everyone with the whole "Columbine simulator" brouhaha then quietly give your protagonist (who wasn't a bully, really) the ability to kiss and feel up other teenage boys. Awesome.

Also? If a female gnome teabags you in World of Warcraft, it's called a hot pocket.
posted by WolfDaddy at 3:14 PM on October 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


Very good point. My inner adolescent probably isn't going anywhere near any weird obscure arthouse mods.
posted by Artw at 3:14 PM on October 6, 2009


there's a complicated story, and it's not resolved until the end that I have a sexual relationship with the other man, I'm going to be confused

That level of complexity, leading to that kind of emotional response, would be pretty much beyond the artistic ambition of any video game I have played.
posted by biffa at 3:14 PM on October 6, 2009


as far as I can tell only one person said anything negative about the fact that the mod included a homosexual relationship.

overreact much?


- The first comment asks for the mod "without the gay"
- "great modding skills there, but i have to say it was irritating to be a gay guy.
- "so i play as a faggot?. it looked pretty and had good potential (even though i cant spell) but i guess not my kinda game"
- "the entire gay marriage thing in the second level is just...Gay." (I'm assuming this is a bad thing)
posted by filthy light thief at 3:18 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


But considering that sexuality does play a role in many games: Braid, Donkey Kong, GTA, Silent Hill 2, and many RPGs, it's ludicrous to think that all those pairings are inevitably going to be heterosexual.

Fair enough.

Another game that has homosexual pairings and marriages is Fable / Fable 2. You can have same-sex or opposite-sex relationships, and in Fable 2 at least there are several homosexual NPCs.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:19 PM on October 6, 2009


Mass Effect!

I can't believe no one has mentioned Mass Effect yet.
posted by Liver at 3:21 PM on October 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Name any other game that treats heterosexual and homosexual relationships as neutrally as The Sims does.

Portal? The computer is "female," the main character's a female.
posted by feistycakes at 3:22 PM on October 6, 2009


That level of complexity, leading to that kind of emotional response, would be pretty much beyond the artistic ambition of any video game I have played.

Probably has mostly to do with the kinds of games you play.
posted by empath at 3:22 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can't believe no one has mentioned Mass Effect yet.

If it make you feel better, you just beat me to it while I was previewing.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 3:27 PM on October 6, 2009


Yeah, he's clearly never played Planescape: Torment.
posted by Justinian at 3:27 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nobody made this much of a fuss when Cloud got into a hot tub with about 6 naked guys. Or when he dressed in drag.

Of course, those scenes were very much played for laughs—it was implicitly deeply uncomfortable for the (aloof, unpersonable, spikey-haired young male protagonist of a Final Fantasy game, stop me if you've heard this one before) protagonist to be stuck in that hot tub, and he wasn't exactly rarin' to get tarted up to cocktease Don Corneo (though to the game's credit it does allow you to at least seem to be willing to carry that line of attack as far as a semi-consensual, if inevitably interrupted, kiss), who is for his part naturally horrified to have almost learned all there is to know about the crying game, etc.

Maybe more notable on that front is that the game does in theory (I've never had the patience to try it) allow the player to carefully steer the Act I romantic subplot of the game toward Cloud hooking up with the beefalicious gun-armed Barrett rather than Aeris or Tifa or, also, difficult to manage in its own right, Yuffie. But that amounts as far as I know to nothing more than a basically content-free and awkward date at the amusement park.

But FFVII was a Japanese game hitting American shores at a time where it's significance as a vector for the console JRPG genre into the US market (and for 3D-modeled RPGs to really get a substantial foothold via the Playstation) was yards and yards more meaningful than any of the little plot details, and the market itself was younger and smaller and at least somewhat less thoughtful in aggregate than today's is. We have a lot more leisure time in our gaming choices, so to speak, to spend on these details than we did 12 years ago, and developers have the practical capacity to focus with more nuance on some of these details than they might have back then as well.

Also, fucking Sephiroth fucking killed fucking Aeris, wtf.
posted by cortex at 3:29 PM on October 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


Mass Effect!

I can't believe no one has mentioned Mass Effect yet.


Isn't that because Bioware wouldn't let a male Shepard shag male Kaidan? (Or vice versa?) An extremely annoying restriction, since Bioware had no problems with a female Shepard and Kaidan hooking up. Or even with an male or female Sheperd + alien Liara hookup. I know there were a lot of fan complaints to Bioware re this homophobic restriction, but I sort of doubt that Bioware will enable m-m hookups in Mass Effect 2, given the outspoken hatred of the gay exhibited by so many in the gaming community.
posted by longdaysjourney at 3:35 PM on October 6, 2009


For those who haven't played the game, Liara is an asari (an all female race).
posted by longdaysjourney at 3:38 PM on October 6, 2009


hippybear: "Feeling any self-loathing about how you are depicting your sexual orientation, Robert?"

I read his list of stereotypes as chiding mockery to his detractors, not sincere opinion.
posted by boo_radley at 3:43 PM on October 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


I wonder how this whole situation will affect my current Half-Life 2 mod I'm thinking about making, "HL2: My Dinner with Andre," where Gordon Freeman (naturally) would play Wallace Shawn's role.

When I'd called André and he'd suggested that we meet in this particular restaurant in City 17, I'd been rather surprised. Because André's tastes used to be very ascetic. He told me '...it's safer here...'
posted by chambers at 3:59 PM on October 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


shmegegge: what is it, precisely, that makes you think the character is only notable for "who they like to screw?"

The fact that the author took the time to write about the fact that he's gay and that his character is gay and gee that's not important at all, but then goes on for three pages saying that and ranting about how he gets treated in his personal life.

If it wasn't pretty central to the reason for making the mod, I rather doubt he'd bother with the screed. I mean, what the heck does his homophobic mailman have to do with gaming? Can't he talk about the mod without talking about his personal life?

Gay people aren't interesting because they're gay, they're interesting because they're people. Look at The Longest Journey's Emma and Fiona for a fantastic example of how to handle sexual orientation in gaming; they're a lesbian couple, but they'd be just as individually interesting if they were friends and had offscreen male partners, or were hetero. (although, of course, they'd lose one of the fantastic voices, which would suck.)

They're neat because they're great fun, dry and witty, not because of who they sleep with.
posted by Malor at 4:05 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Related: LesbianGamers.com accuses the portrayal of Veronica Dare in Bungie's Halo 3: ODST as sexist. A prominent Bungie community site tackles the issue (a threaded discussion, first post is just one of many -- a nested comment tree is at the bottom of the page).
posted by Rhaomi at 4:08 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Velvet-Strike
posted by jcruelty at 4:11 PM on October 6, 2009


Anyone remember when Counterstrike was a world inhabited entirely by left-handed people?
posted by Artw at 4:21 PM on October 6, 2009


In future FPS games, in the setup menus, alongside where you toggle whether you want your mouselook inverted or default, you should be able to select your sexuality. And it's not explained that the setting isn't hooked up to anything, it doesn't do anything, but it's there.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:26 PM on October 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


A huge chunk of the FPS market, if not a majority, are military based. A lot of the ones that aren't are secret service, ex military, or future military. It's not realistic to make these characters gay

Motherfucker say what? Just because your country is bass-goddamn-ackwards with regards to gays in the military having to hide who they are, it doesn't mean they're not there. There's quite a lot of them, in fact, serving everywhere from latrine duty to the Pentagon.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:28 PM on October 6, 2009 [10 favorites]


KirkJobSluder: "Yes, just like I have trouble figuring out why I give a damn as a survivor of a plague that turned me into a zombie, a female reporter who happens to be the scion of an alien menace, a man washed up in an undersea dystopia, or an Italian plumber, given that I'm none of these things in real life. "

I'm still trying to figure out the second game there. little help please?
posted by ArgentCorvid at 4:33 PM on October 6, 2009


The fact that the author took the time to write about the fact that he's gay and that his character is gay and gee that's not important at all, but then goes on for three pages saying that and ranting about how he gets treated in his personal life.

That is the author's commentary on the game, external to the game; you seem to be objecting to the product of his efforts on the basis of your dislike for his willingness to discuss his motivations, which seems fairly off the mark to me as a criticism of the mod itself. And your original comment, to which folks are responding, seems to be claiming that the gayness of the character is a problem with the mod and not with the author's commentary, which is external to the gameplay experience itself:

But I am not gay, nor will I ever be, and trying to put me in someone's shoes who is notable because they're gay is missing a key bit of resonance with my life. Make them notable because they're notable, not because of who they like to screw.

Again, video game characters are all kinds of things that you are not and will never be. I'm not a supersoldier with a dark past who routinely tangles with nuclear-armed mechs, and I'm not an elfen child-warrior who uses boomarangs and faerie helpers to save princesses, and I'm not an only-child ape trying to save his Kongly dad from the vengeful Jumpman, and I will never be any of those things, nor can I identify with any of them on a direct personal level.

I'm not interested in who Solid Snake or Link or Donkey Kong Jr. want to screw, either, and they're not notable for who they want to screw, but (we'll leave DK Jr. out of this) it's pretty clearly allowed in the narrative that Meryl and Zelda are who they would be screwing if screwing were part of the game, and that it's Boy Saves Girl in the vast majority of game narratives that contain any hints of gender dynamic is a much, much more "tired" part of the video game metadiscourse at this point than an overt exigetic discussion of a less-overt homosexual relationship in an experimental mod.
posted by cortex at 4:33 PM on October 6, 2009 [9 favorites]


The game never asks you to prance about and shop for vintage clothing or chat with your mom about the latest episode of Gossip Girl.

Um... buy into that stereotype much? Feeling any self-loathing about how you are depicting your sexual orientation, Robert? Because it seems like you have some issues


I read that as pandering to what the asshats are thinking, not self-loathing.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:33 PM on October 6, 2009


I'm still trying to figure out the second game there. little help please?

Beyond Good and Evil.
posted by cortex at 4:35 PM on October 6, 2009


I'm not an elfen child-warrior who uses boomarangs and faerie helpers to save princesses,

Are you ...sure about that?
posted by The Whelk at 4:36 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


That guy lives in Seattle. Apparently, if you get close to him, he stinks.
posted by Artw at 4:37 PM on October 6, 2009


When I used to play GoldenEye with my roommates, I almost never picked the female characters. Does that make me anti-woman, or did I simply prefer to play characters that I most closely identified with?

When I used to play GoldenEye with my roommates, I never picked Jaws or Baron Samedi, because they were seven frakkin' feet tall and were easier to hit. Does that make me anti-tall person, or did I simply prefer to avoid head shots from the RC-P90?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:40 PM on October 6, 2009


I was always about trick shots with the grenade launcher.
posted by Artw at 4:42 PM on October 6, 2009


But in the Sims, the straight people are also little dolls with mouths you can press together....The only practical different with gay relationships is that they can't get pregnant with each other. They can adopt just like the hetero couples though.

Because Sim males can get pregnant from alien abduction a (straight male) friend of mine used that game code to create an extremely popular mod that lets male couples get pregnant "the old fashioned way". One of the men in the couple actually gets pregnant, with the big belly and all & gives birth. If you frequent any of the popular Sims forums you'll see that most players have gay couples with children in their own game, whether they themselves are male, female, straight, gay. The Sims community is so accepting of all types of people, it's very heartening.
posted by zarah at 4:46 PM on October 6, 2009


Temple amirite? Also DK mode, License to kill and pistols.
posted by edbles at 5:00 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


One of the many nice things about GoldenEye - pistols always felt worthwhile.
posted by Artw at 5:03 PM on October 6, 2009


I agree that heterosexuality should not be an assumed norm. but it *sounds* (since I have not played the game) like the author was *hoping* for a "aha! you're gay!" moment at the end, which seems a little cheap.

I don't know if this was the case at all, but I do know that when Samus was revealed as female at the end of the original Metroid it was specifically designed to be an expectation-reversing "a-ha!" moment and is revered as a classic moment of the NES era.

The designer here makes art-house mods. They will be a personal reflection of something. Here, the world he created was based around a failing marriage, and as it was a gay man creating it, he made the marriage a homosexual one. He is responding to the fact that many gamers apparently enjoyed his gameplay (which even he admits is riddled with problems) but complained because in this mod, they had to play as someone gay, even though that doesn't really matter at all.

So yeah, that's homophobia.

If it wasn't pretty central to the reason for making the mod, I rather doubt he'd bother with the screed. I mean, what the heck does his homophobic mailman have to do with gaming? Can't he talk about the mod without talking about his personal life?

I don't think it was central to the reason he made the mod so much as it was his mod to make and so he made it with a relationship he could closely identify with. Take a Spike Lee movie like He Got Game - the film isn't about race, but features mostly African-American characters. Was putting black protagonists front-and-center the central reason for the film? Unlikely, I think. Rather Lee's reason for the film is that he loves basketball, and has personal experience as a black American allows him to write it with great perspective.

(not at all a perfect analogy, I know.)

I guess what I'm saying is that had the mod been made by a heterosexual man or woman, it probably would have featured a heterosexual relationship as the largely irrelevant background for the gameplay, and would have gone unnoted. The designer was, instead, a gay man, and chose to make the marriage homosexual. Why the hell should he not have made that choice?

I don;t want to strawman you here, Malor, but the idea of "making him gay" = "making the mod about him being gay" is exactly heteronormatism at work.

All that said, the reason we're not getting more gay characters in videogames, or at least the main reason, is market demand. The primary market is still pre-adolescent and teenaged boys who are direfully homophobic, and as much as I want that to change, it's unlikely to happen to any great extent with a group most clearly defined by being sexually-confused wanton assholes who have yet to learn how to behave with good will towards the rest of society and who desperately want to be the alpha dog.

Games like this help, but aren't going to solve the problem on their own. Moreover, Robert Yang should have, and must have expected, a lot of the reaction he got, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't complain about it - it means he should complain about it more loudly and more often.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:11 PM on October 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


In the first Sims game, I had a house with three women, all in love with each other. The thing I didn't foresee was that each woman thought that she was the only one two-timing and would get really pissed if she saw the other two together.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 5:13 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one who fondly remembers Foobar vs. the DEA?

From the link:

Foobar's boyfriend, Ned, has been imprisoned in the DEA's mind control camp for drug offenders. Even though Ned was caught with only a joint on him, 21st century law clearly states that he must receive treatment. Foobar needs to reak into the camp's air space and, among other things, destroy NOSEY the computer. NOSEY compiles data on every human in America, and when someone starts looking suspicious, NOSEY sends the DEA to their house. After killing NOSEY, Foobar will be reunited with Ned. Oh, amour!
posted by Kronoss at 5:16 PM on October 6, 2009


As you level up, you can understand more and more of the foreign chatter. (Like more and more words are clear until you read/hear them all. Obviously this would cause problems if the player was *already* fluent in French or German, but you could have all unknown languages represented by Simish or something).

Was I the only one who expected this proposal to end with a talented gay military translator getting fired for his sexuality?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:52 PM on October 6, 2009


Navelgazer covered much of what I wanted to say. As for why it's relevant, I'll point to this classic 20-year-old rant that the desire for gay people to be safely invisible and inoffensive enables more explicit anti-gay activity (part 1 and part 2). With the rapid growth and ubiquity of games as entertainment, there is something quite queer about making the subject taboo.

But, ok, let's assume that Malor is entirely on the nose, in spite of admitting almost complete ignorance of the actual mod. Let's say that this whole mod is a flaming "look at me, I'm gay, gay, GAY." So what? It's not as if we don't have video games that are about traditional families, dating sims, Leasure Suit Larry, video games about heterosexual sex acts, and probably over a hundred rescue the damsel in distress games out there. If we have games for the Army, games for Conservative Christians, and games for metalheads, why shouldn't we have games for the gay community?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:04 PM on October 6, 2009


why shouldn't we have games for the gay community?


Argument: If the gay movie sub-industry is any indication, we don't want gay games cause they will all be fucking terrible.
posted by The Whelk at 6:11 PM on October 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


The gay movie sub-industry is entirely created so that directors can have a casting couch without having to be honest and just go into making porn. A few exceptions... Lilies, The Broken Hearts Club.. but that's it, really.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:13 PM on October 6, 2009


Have you seen "Friends And Family"? I seriously thought no one involved in the movie had ever even SEEN a movie before, let alone made one.

Also, I recommend the first season of Dante's Cove for sheer MST3K-nuclear flashpoint levels of bad. Some comments from the last viewing.

"So, is this a hospital island for the terminally untalented? Like a Leper colony?"

"I'm guessing they're under a trade embargo and there is a severe shirt shortage."

"God, Vampires suck."

(Upon seeing a creepy woman in victorian dress) "Tori Amos, no!"

"How many times are we gonna see this cock shot? " "Until the director finishes."
posted by The Whelk at 6:23 PM on October 6, 2009


Oh! oh! My standard baseline for Gay Movie Badness is "Jeffery". To be exact, the scene when the butch guy, after having a terse emotional moment, goes back to his HUGE VILLAGE APARTMENT and proceeds to DANCE-CRY THE PAIN AWAY!
posted by The Whelk at 6:25 PM on October 6, 2009


Has anyone seen the Gay Cthulhu movie to determine it's exact level of badness?
posted by Artw at 6:32 PM on October 6, 2009


Please tell me you are joking Artw. Please.
posted by The Whelk at 6:35 PM on October 6, 2009


Argument: If the gay movie sub-industry is any indication, we don't want gay games cause they will all be fucking terrible.

I'm hardly an afficionado of the genre, but I will say that Jeffrey was fucking awful. Kissing Jessica Stein was decent, but it probably doesn't/shouldn't count. Still, that scene with "I think she's a lovely girl" made me cry for real when I watched it.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:39 PM on October 6, 2009


But I'm a Cheerleader was my favorite movie in 8th grade. I still think it's a pretty great movie.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 6:41 PM on October 6, 2009


Kissing Jessica Stein was okay but fell apart at the end, being that was Sock-Puppet Cartoon Theater, now with Extra Unexamined Upper-Middle Class Prejudices!

But I'm A Cheerleader gets a pass cause it has April March songs in it.

Sometimes they're just off. Take Psycho Beach Party, got everything I like, Lauren Ambrose, mid-60s kitsch, Xander without a shirt on, but the whole thing is just a leaden, annoying slog. I thought gays are supposed to be witty?
posted by The Whelk at 6:47 PM on October 6, 2009


My standard baseline for Gay Movie Badness is "Jeffery".

OH MY GOD OH MY GOD is that where the clips of Patrick Stewart playing a gay guy that were in That Jean-Luc Picard came from? If it is I'm totally getting it on netflix! I know I shouldn't but I must! You've seen him do the alphabet right? HOW CAN THIS BE WRONG <3<3<3
posted by The Devil Tesla at 6:47 PM on October 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Cortex: do you think Sephiroth's murder of Aeris was misogynistic?
posted by clockzero at 6:48 PM on October 6, 2009


STOP TESLA NO! HE'S ONLY IN IT FOR LIKE 10 MINUTES! IT IS NOT WORTH IT! DO NOT WATCH! DO NOT! IT IS POSION!
posted by The Whelk at 6:49 PM on October 6, 2009


Top Gun is the best gay movie.
posted by empath at 6:50 PM on October 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


OH MY GOD Jeffery also has the guy who plays Salvatore on Mad Men this movie better not suck though I know it's going to.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 6:51 PM on October 6, 2009


HE DIES AND BECOMES A ANGEL AND HE'S MUCH LESS ATTRACTIVE WITHOUT A NICE SUIT AND SOME GREY-HAIR HEFTINESS. POISON!
posted by The Whelk at 6:53 PM on October 6, 2009


If it wasn't pretty central to the reason for making the mod, I rather doubt he'd bother with the screed.

If people hadn't responded to it with comments like "it was irritating to be a gay guy" and "so i play as a faggot?" I rather doubt he'd bother with the screed.
posted by nanojath at 6:59 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


HE'S MUCH LESS ATTRACTIVE WITHOUT A NICE SUIT

IN THE JANDREW EDIT CLIP HE'S WEARING A SPIKED COLLAR!
posted by The Devil Tesla at 7:00 PM on October 6, 2009


IT IS NOT ENOUGH! DO NOT WATCH! DO! NOT!
posted by The Whelk at 7:03 PM on October 6, 2009


THE ONLY REASON FOR WATCHING THE MOVIE IS THIS LINE, DELIVERED PATRICK STEWART:

SETTING, A FICTIONAL GAME SHOW WHERE GAY MEN ARE ASKES WHICH WOMEN THEY WOULD SLEEP WITH *

HOST: AND YOU?

PS: YOKO ONO.

HOST: AND WHY?

PS: TO SEE THE APARTMENT.

*SEE? GAH!
posted by The Whelk at 7:04 PM on October 6, 2009


I SO ANGRY I MAKE TYPOS MUCHLY
posted by The Whelk at 7:05 PM on October 6, 2009


THE ONLY REASON FOR WATCHING THE MOVIE IS THIS LINE

THANK YOU THE WHELK NOW I DON'T HAVE TO WATCH THE MOVIE ALSO HUGS
posted by The Devil Tesla at 7:12 PM on October 6, 2009


MY GOOD DEED FOR THE DAY
posted by The Whelk at 7:14 PM on October 6, 2009


There are hardly any gay characters in games because there hardly any relationships of any sort in games. Video game characters are asexual more than anything. For all we know Gordon Freeman will come out of the closet in Half Life 3. The Sims is exceptional moreso for having relationships at all than for having gay relationships.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 7:16 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think what Malor's getting at, if I may, is that player gender and sexuality ought to be considered by game developers when writing characters, and they should write inclusive characters in much the same way that writers of books ought to use inclusive language. It shouldn't be a "big deal" to have a gay character in a game, any more than it is to have characters of various real-world races. It should, in my view, be just an aspect of a character's "character".

(By the way, in-game treatment of the notion of race--almost universally, as a "good"/"evil" factional identifier--is a very interesting can of worms to open up in itself. :D)

It wasn't Robert Yang who made a big deal of the character's sexuality in this mod, quite the opposite, but it does seem to be a big deal to some players, and it's worth examining why, even if the conclusion is mostly "video gamers are idiots {shrug}".

On the subject of gay movies; if movies in which gay sexuality is important to the plot count as a "gay movie", I would call "Go", "In and Out" and "The Opposite of Sex" all good movies. (Also, "The Sum of Us" and "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert", but AFAIK both of those were mostly distributed in Australia.)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 7:55 PM on October 6, 2009


Please tell me you are joking Artw. Please.

Well, it's more of a Gay Innsmouth. I suspect also might not count as the filmmaker does not appear to be gay. He does however appear to he an egomonster headcase trainwreck of immense proportions.
posted by Artw at 8:07 PM on October 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


The gay movie sub-industry is entirely created so that directors can have a casting couch without having to be honest and just go into making porn. A few exceptions... Lilies, The Broken Hearts Club.. but that's it, really.

The problem is that gay filmmakers have dug too deeply into the mineshaft of double entendres and insinuendoes to name their bodies of work. It's just getting harder and harder to find good titles for these films. How can anyone get ahead in this industry when the pool of words are all tied up?

The last major spurt of gay cinema came out of Iceland in 1999. But the downward curve projects fewer and fewer gay films as languages hit Peak Entendre. The tight supply will only get tighter, leading to the estimated collapse of GLBT film festivals around the world in 2013 or 2014.

The whole situation is a total cock-up, is what I'm trying to say.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:41 PM on October 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I like The Broken Hearts Club. Any movie that has Dean Cain, Tim Olyphant, Zach Braff, Justin Theroux all mackin on other guys is tops in my book. Plus! John Mahoney in drag, which somehow confirms to me that, indeed, Frasier was the gayest show since Bewitched.
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:40 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another game that has homosexual pairings and marriages is Fable / Fable 2. You can have same-sex or opposite-sex relationships, and in Fable 2 at least there are several homosexual NPCs.

Fable 2 is so laissez-faire about who your character does/doesn't get in bed with that you can actually marry whoever the hell you want (given that you woo them properly, of course), even if you're already married in another town. And yes, many characters are gay and you can reciprocate their affection if you wish. It was pretty refreshing to see that done in a video game without a big deal being made of it.

Of course, the game itself is basically The Sims with level grinding and a vague fantasy setting, so there you go.
posted by neckro23 at 10:53 PM on October 6, 2009


Fable 2 is so laissez-faire about who your character does/doesn't get in bed with that you can actually marry whoever the hell you want (given that you woo them properly, of course), even if you're already married in another town.

You can actually get married, pick up a random shopkeeper, a gay guy and a hooker, and have a 3 way in front of your wife and child, and then smack your wife around for complaining about cheating on her, and she'll still bring you gifts as long as your pay the bills on time.

So I've heard.
posted by empath at 12:00 AM on October 7, 2009


Has anyone seen the Gay Cthulhu movie to determine it's exact level of badness?
posted by Artw at 6:32 PM on October 6 [+] [!]


I thought that movie existed only inside my head.
posted by atrazine at 4:12 AM on October 7, 2009


MeMail me for the keystroke sequence that unlocks the "hot coffee" mod-within-mod.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:52 AM on October 7, 2009


I like this mod and what the author has tried to do.

But one thing has been bugging me. That the game is neutral and discrete about the homosexuality of the protagonists is good, if only because it makes the outcry seem even more bat shit insane, but there's an assumption among quite a few commentators that this is the only acceptable way to portray homosexuality in videogames, that anything more obvious, more in-your-face is wrong and inappropriate.

The discreteness makes the mod all the more subversive but I worry that this could be taken as the only way right minded people can accept to have teh gay in a videogame, much like it's fine to have teh gay in mainstream movies, but so long as there's no obvious sexuality (cf: neutered sidekick)
posted by litleozy at 7:00 AM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, I recommend the first season of Dante's Cove for sheer MST3K-nuclear flashpoint levels of bad.

So so so so so so so so true. Although the "spinoff" The Lair actually crosses back into so-bad-it's-good territory.

posted by kittyprecious at 7:09 AM on October 7, 2009


there's an assumption among quite a few commentators that this is the only acceptable way to portray homosexuality in videogames, that anything more obvious, more in-your-face is wrong and inappropriate.

I may have missed that angle when reading through the thread, but if you're talking about mefi commentators specifically I'm not sure I agree with how you're presenting it. It's not that casual neutrality is the only acceptable way to do it, it's that casual neutrality is a good sign for the handling of such relationships in general gaming contexts. I think good games that deal more overtly with homosexuality would be fine and dandy, personally—anywhere where it makes sense to be overt about a heterosexual inclination seems like a place where switching the sexuality around (or introducing a coinflip) would be worth exploring.

That said, there's a fair amount of fairly ham-handed exploitation of hetero relationships in crappy games/stories already, and I'm not sure there's any big win to seeing folks replicate that but as a crappy narrative about a gay relationship; there's that fear I think a lot of entertainment consumers/critics have that because this is something prone to get attention at this point (since we're all stuck still milling around on the not-so-progressive side of this particular fence), a crappy game that tackles the subject will be treated not as Crappy Game (With Incidental Homosexuality) so much as Crappy Homosexuality Game, even though a crappy game with incidental heterosexuality would almost certainly not be dealt with primarily in terms of that hetero content.

Cf. movie adaptations of niche genre works, and the relative terror in the hearts of fans of x or y or z that a botched go at X, Y, or Z: The Movie will confirm to non x/y/z fans once and for al that x or y or z is obviously crap or unworthy of their attention, or what have you. Same general phenomenon but without the added stakes of sexual politics and real world discrimination at play. In either case, the stakes are higher for the person on the fringe than they are for the folks already in the mainstream.
posted by cortex at 7:21 AM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Artw : Anyone remember when Counterstrike was a world inhabited entirely by left-handed people?

Not only that, but I remember when, very briefly in one of the early betas, one of the animations for reloading the M4 had the player pulling on the forward assist as a charging handle. Us firearm nerds found this terribly funny, but in their defense, I guess sort of makes sense if you have no other idea what that thing on the side of the gun is for.

posted by quin at 7:27 AM on October 7, 2009


I suspect Airsoft was their main reference.
posted by Artw at 7:48 AM on October 7, 2009


Malor: "The fact that the author took the time to write about the fact that he's gay and that his character is gay and gee that's not important at all, but then goes on for three pages saying that and ranting about how he gets treated in his personal life.

If it wasn't pretty central to the reason for making the mod, I rather doubt he'd bother with the screed.
"

see, but now you're talking about the fact that he's gay at all, regardless of whatever else in the character might be notable. remember, your point was that the ONLY thing that is notable about the character is that he's gay, and that's what you don't like. and my point was, what makes you think that's the ONLY thing about him that's notable?
posted by shmegegge at 8:26 AM on October 7, 2009


Has anyone seen the Gay Cthulhu movie to determine it's exact level of badness?

It's bad... not so bad it's good bad, but pretty close. I mean when your best performer is Tori Spelling you are on to a bit of a looser from the start. The actual gayness of the lead character is kind of pointless too.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:59 AM on October 7, 2009


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