Gaming in the community is more than heterosexual
By Jessica Vella
LGBTQ representation in video games is starting to show up more with games like Mass Effect, Fable, Fallout, and Skyrim. These games have been known to break boundaries and go against many of the sexual stereotypes.
When it comes to LGBTQ characters in video games, sexual stereotyping can be found in many and it can lead to a personal disconnection when it comes to an LGBTQ gamer playing the game.
Even though we have come a long way as a gaming society, video games, their creators, and the people who play them; still have a long way to go in representing more than the heterosexual community and making others feel welcome.
In Toronto we have an LGBTQ gaming community which focuses on connecting LGBTQ gamers and making a comfortable environment for those who never felt openly accepted before.
Gaymers Toronto is open to any gamer, LGBTQ or ally that wants to join in the fun of playing games with others who are like-minded to the cause.
When asked to describe Gaymers, Jason Naum a participant and regular at Gaymers, had this to say.
“The Toronto Gaymers is a grouping of mostly males that are between the ages of 17 and 40. They’re mostly queer and they mostly play games,” Naum says. “Though some of them are there for the social aspects and there are some that are just happy to be playing games with others in person or online.”
Jean-Guy Spencer, one of the three founders of Gaymers, says that before he joined the other founders, he never felt like he truly belonged.
“I’ve always felt like I didn’t belong in the greater LGBT community because I wasn’t sociable and I didn’t I feel like I fit into the gaming community because I was gay. When I discovered the Toronto Gaymers, I immediately knew that I had found a place I belong,” Spencer says.
Naum says that being in a like-minded group can help people feel comfortable and at home without all the slurs thrown around in online gaming.
“With all the derogatory comments thrown around easily on the internet, a very good example would be Halo and Call of Duty, for the fair amount of times that you hear faggot and other lines thrown at either you or other people in the game, it really grates on you,” Naum says. “So playing with people that are also having those things around them and knowing that none of you will be using those terms can make it much more comforting.”
Spencer says that gaming representation of the LGBT has come a long way, but the gaming community still has some way to go.
“I think game developers have come a long way, but in contrast I think the greater gaming community has a long way to go in terms of acceptance and respect for LGBT representation in the community,” Spencer says. “This hetero-normative attitude is going to be a difficult challenge to overcome, and unfortunately the developers can’t do much to help in that regards. The good thing is that the debate rages on, and that means there is something worth fighting for.”
John James, the lead designer for MidBoss Games and the Director of Design for GaymerConnect and GaymerX, says that he feels that including LGBTQ characters can help many gamers from the community connect with the game.
“I believe that by having LGBTQ characters in games, and representing them in a realistic way, as well as having more inclusive options to choose from, it will allow players to relate more easily to it,” James says. “If the game has the option to hook up with another character (like in Mass Effect or Skyrim), it would feel kind of awkward only having to go with the opposite sex. It’s an immediate disconnection, since that’s not something I would do.”
When asked about the new game, Read Only Memories being created by MidBoss that will include LGBTQ representation, James says that the game won’t be just a gay game; it’ll be so much more than that.
“We wanted a game that had LGBTQ characters in it that wasn’t just a gay game, one that also allowed the player to have more than just him and her as a gender pronoun option. Something that’s inclusive and that also attempts to accurately represent LGBTQ characters without it just being an overused trope or something sexual,” James says. “The game is still being made, and we’re still creating characters for it, but we’re striving for accuracy, so we’re trying to talk to other LGBT people to make sure we’re representing them in the right way.”