Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sexuality in Video Games

It's kinda a nitpicky little thing, but I've been thinking since Monday about sexuality in the media, and how we sort of acknowledged that things like TV and movies have had an influence on public opinions about sexuality both good and bad. We mentioned some of the first big steps taken with representation on TV, and how they helped to make those topics no longer taboo. But we sort of glossed over video games, sort of dismissing them as more of a negative influence due to frequent depictions of violence against women.

Though it's definitely true that violence against women is prevalent in some types of games, video games are pretty much exactly like books or tv shows or movies; there are many many different genres giving many many different messages. Many of those genres are violent and can display some pretty unhealthy attitudes about sexuality, but at the same time, many other games try to push boundaries in positive directions.

Fallout 2, which came out in 1998, was the first video game in which the player character could enter into a same sex marriage. Dragon Age Inquisition, which came out in 2014, featured a prominent and positively portrayed transgender man (in a medieval fantasy setting, no less!). Many games now allow the player character to play as either male or female, and potentially romance several different characters of various genders, skyrocketing the number of openly lgb characters in games in the past several years. Hell, now most fans will get angry if these sorts of things AREN'T included!

Just as an example, this picture of party members from Dragon Age Inquisition features one lesbian, one gay man, two bisexual women, and a pansexual Quinari. Several of the other characters never have their sexualities explicitly stated, meaning they might not be straight either.

And that doesn't even touch on indie games. Making your own video games has become easier and easier, and many women, trans, and queer people have started making their own games, allowing them to share their experiences in their own voices. The topic of inclusion, representation, and diversity has been a hot one in the video games community in recent years, but I think things are really looking to be turning in a positive direction.

Undyne and Alphys, lesbian monsters in love from the indy game Undertale. Which is, by the way, a game that it's possible to beat without any violence whatsoever.

So... yeah. It's my own little bugaboo. But I love video games a lot and it makes me sad that they still get typecast as all inherently violent instead of being treated as a medium with many genres like film or literature. It'd be like assuming all movies were violent and gory based only on watching grindhouse films!

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