One Equal World

Gay Representation, One Indie Video Game at a Time

Posted on: July 19, 2016

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

Video games have never been particularly welcoming to the gay community. And if you’ve ever played video games online with strangers, you’ve probably encountered a lot of homophobic comments.

And frankly, finding representations of homosexuality in video games is pretty rare. When games do represent homosexuality, it’s usually an option that a player can engage with, such as in the Mass Effect or Dragon Age games where you can choose to play your characters as gay, straight, or bisexual. But those games are about player choice, and many games imply you to follow along as they tell the story of (usually) a white, male, straight protagonist.

Enter indie game designer and teacher Robert Yang, who has gained fame (and infamy) for creating gay video games. His titles include Hurt Me Plenty, Stick Shift, Succulent, Rinse and Repeat, and Cobra Club, all of which require the player to play gay men. These are games very much about gay sexuality, consent, and representation. Yang grew up playing games where he didn’t see himself represented, and he wanted to change that. He realizes that his games aren’t likely to change the world, but he feels like he’s contributing.

The games themselves have been met with criticism, as you no doubt expected, and getting them out to the public has been a challenge, but it seems like it’s getting easier with subsequent games. Representation of LGBTQ+ people in video games (and in media generally) is growing, but we’re probably some ways away from a gay action star or a transgender hero in a series as popular as Uncharted or Call of Duty. Characters who aren’t straight, white men, and in which the game isn’t specifically about their sexuality, are the goal for a lot of gamers. Imagine playing a game where the charming action hero has a boyfriend he has to save, instead of a girlfriend. Wouldn’t that be interesting?

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