As I previously posted, being noticeably gay online (or offline for that matter) isn’t necessarily a barrel of laughs. Therefore, whenever I hear someone (e.g. my boss, friends, et cetera) question why people create gay communities in game, I’ve been at somewhat of a loss as to how to explain.
Sites such as Gaymer.org and Gaygamer.net are ones I very infrequently visit, but of whose presence I became aware fairly early on when I stepped back into MMOs in 2004. The following explains quite a bit:
The truth is, in the gaming community, there are some pretty staunchly homophobic players and Gaymer.org is about having fun without hearing the bashing. So I give this site to you as a safe haven where gaming is the focus, not hate.
For this same reason there exist gay guilds in various games. I briefly joined one in World of Warcraft, and then again when I played Age of Conan for a month. Yet, even this can cause some headaches to occur within the games themselves.
What was so different about being in a gay guild? Honestly, not horribly much. I saw the same level of banter and chatter occurring. In Age of Conan I saw some discussion of local Pride parades, attractive male celebrities, and so on. There was also talk of sports, politics, and many other topics which I’m sure you can encounter in any guild chat.
While I personally have a hard time justifying joining a guild due to my sexuality (I have the same problem when making friends in real life–they don’t have to be gay), it was pleasant to see people being willing to chat amongst themselves openly, without fear of having slurs typed at them or being griefed in some manner.
Along with the discussion of games as art, having political messages, and their responsibility to our culture (and our culture responsibly handling them in turn), there are intriguing discussions occurring in race, gender, sexuality, and various other venues. My question remains of how aware most gamers are concerning these issues.
With semi-popular spoofs such as Drawn Together we see a very stereotypical picture (provided above) of a gaymer in Xandir P. Wifflebottom (I cringe as I type that). While I realize it is comedy and supposed to be a parody, I wonder when the joke gets tired (which can be said of the entire series and its cast list). Yes, we know about the overly emotional, hearts on their sleeve ‘queens’ that society has deemed as appropriate queer behavior, but when do we move beyond such?
Something of which I believe (and hope) we’ll see more of is the reaction against such bland, blatant stereotypes. Upon the release of Enchanted Arms, I was intrigued at the notion of a very openly gay character in a videogame. Speaking with my gaymer friends, it was curious to see how very few of them actually saw this as a positive. The character screams out his effete behavior (here’s a novel concept, gay does not equal feminine) and seems not much more than comic relief. It is a step forward from having no gay character, but it isn’t necessarily the path that we desire to see trodden.
As with the example of the gay guild in WoW who fought against the ruling that they could not advertise themselves as an LGBT guild, it is reassuring to see that these communities are not only fostering support for those that may seek it, but that they are also voicing their opinions. While online reactions to Makoto seem very mixed, it is reassuring to see some discussion occurring. While playing Age of Conan, my fellow guildmates seemed rather impressed at Funcom’s inclusion of a couple of gay NPCs who were quite normal except for their chosen partner.
Meanwhile everything isn’t horribly doom and gloom. While I may personally find Makoto distasteful and very, very annoying, he is a major character that is openly gay. Much like with Will & Grace, it is something I can begrudgingly accept, even if I don’t personally enjoy it. Just because my personal philosophy is to run the extra mile and overshoot if necessary, a revolution and overhaul does not come by in one fell swoop.
Plus, we have had some nods that aren’t the stereotype that commercial audiences seems to expect. The one that stands out to me most is Quest for Glory V‘s Andre the Fisherman politely declining the flowers offered him by the Hero, explaining the presence of his boyfriend. Seeing as how stereotypes seem to still flourish in many places in the media, however, this might be a battle that takes a while.