Video games are generally not the most inclusive. I’ve heard a lot of people say any representation is good representation, I’m not sure I fully agree. One of the most prominent methods game developers use to represent the LGBTQ+ community that I’ve seen is use of the F slur to illustrate that the character is in fact a bigot. The funny thing is that it’s always in quotation marks, with that same old excuse, ‘It’s a character’s words, not the publishers’. In a creative piece, it honestly isn’t good enough, especially when you could just exclude or write around. It’s like these people who write deep and complex characters for a living don’t know how to represent without being offensive.
There is a general lack of fleshed out LGBTQ+ characters in mainstream games, particularly in story-driven ones. Though, there will always be something entertaining in bigots playing contemporary MMO’s like Overwatch, getting mad because a character isn’t straight. This is a really great step forward from gaming curators. It also casts a lot of shame on the heavy hitters of single player RPGs, as these characters in MMOs are normally picked on aesthetic and play style, with their backstory usually a bit of a mute point. If a game like that can make the effort of writing in more inclusive backstories, then what excuse do these games have that pride themselves on rich narrative and ‘deep’ characters.
The bar is so low, especially when it’s free to be mutual on the subject. Take, for example, Skyrim. This game, released in 2011, had a romance mechanic that was clearly thrown in like an afterthought. For any eligible marriage candidate, all you have to do to win them over is to complete their personal quest and talk to them while wearing a funky amulet, doesn’t matter what kind of pairing it is. How has it been 8 years and yet, in general, game publishers find it easier to be offensive than not?
One tiny shining light of progression was the Mass Effect series between 2007 and 2012 – because, let’s be honest, Andromeda was the video game equivalent of eating literal garbage. For the time, those games came a long way in terms of LGBTQ+ representation. The romance evolved from heteronormative in 1 to including multiple gay characters in 3, with smatterings of implied sexuality. I guess I’m just saddened a bit that the only relief I’ve been exposed to is just a small portion of gaming that I enjoy, especially when I know for a fact that the LGBTQ+ community is under-represented in the gaming industry. It’s not hard to do better.