Casual Homophobia and Gaymers

gaymer

 

Gaymers “boys who like boys who like joysticks” (or girls who like girls who like buttons)

First off, I would say that a normalization is taking place. There is a Gaymer con which is apparently widely known within the queer community. Anna Anthropy (who programed Dys4ia) wrote a text based adventure spoof on Star Wars called Search for the Gay Planet. While the game is an amusing spoof, It brings up a valid point: where are the non heteronormative characters!? With Gaymers out roaming the mean streets of MMOs, perhaps it will become less common to see gay bashing and casual homophobia.

I can say with almost complete certainty that everyone has at least heard of the casual homophobia that is rampant in MMOs. Whether in in Halo or in WOW, it is very hard to escape jibes of “you’re so gay” or “suck my dick”. It leads me to wonder if the culture of the MMO community actually promote casual homophobia? Probably. I mean the huge and well documented presence of rape culture and casual gay bashing by players would lead me to believe so. That being said, where then is the place for “Gaymers” within this usually hostile environment? The answer is EVERYWHERE.

halo

There’s a surprisingly vibrant community of these self identified “gaymers.” There are conferences, at least 20 different websites dedicated to this one aspect of Queer culture. More than I was necessarily expecting. Although Gaymers are usually men, there is also an increasing lesbian presence within game culture which is bound to change the way gaming communities use language (especially when hating on others). It will, with any luck, become unacceptable to call someone gay because, well they are.  In other words, it isn’t very creative or hurtful to insult someone with what they actively identify as.

  6 comments for “Casual Homophobia and Gaymers

  1. 302writing
    March 21, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    You use some slang in the blog that I wouldn’t have advised using. For example, I would have called the “Gaymer con” a “Gaymer” video game conference, just to prevent any confusion.

    I would also like to see more non-heteronormative characters, but I think it’s important to realize that what is normal for one person doesn’t mean that the state -is- normal, or common. I’d like to see more ethnic characters in video games too, but if a piece is set somewhere where they aren’t present, then that’s fine for them to be absent. My point is just that it isn’t necessarily better for a game to cram any particular content in to please a demographic niche.

    Lastly, except in extreme cases, slurs are rarely successfully banned. It’s much more likely for the slurs to simply become obsolete. Calling someone “gay” won’t stop from banning it, it will stop when people accept being “gay” as normal, not as something to mock.

  2. mburns25
    March 21, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Having grown up with two younger brothers who are rampant Xbox 360 players, I can attest to the homophobia present amongst gamers. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve tried to correct them, yet it’s the online culture that promotes the homophobia. Now that it’s been a few years, I’ve noticed that I haven’t heard either of them saying anything derogatory towards gays or just teasing their friends while online. I believe maturity could be a major factor in this as well.

    While I am heterosexual, I definitely respect the choice to choose to be homosexual, in real life and in a video game. Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas are fairly recent examples which allow for the player to choose to interact with the same or opposite sex however they choose, which is a bit of a breakthrough in relationship to the heterosexual culture surrounding gaming. Making said choice can even affect how a quest works out, which is an interesting side effect when gaming.

  3. Savannah
    March 21, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Thank you thank you thank you for posting this. I tend to avoid most online conversations these days because of the constant rape jokes and how people think it’s okay to label such painful experiences as humorous for the sake of “dark humor.” It’s just one of those things that makes you want to throw your computer out the window, you know?

    And the gay bashing isn’t any better. “Faggot” seems to be the worst thing to call someone on Team Fortress 2, and defending the gay name only makes people take you less seriously. Being a lesbian myself, this didn’t exactly give me the idea that I was welcome in the world of online gaming.

    I would be jumping for joy if I could find just one game that had a lesbian as its lead character, but I suppose that’s too much to ask for in a time when just finding a appropriately dressed female is hard enough as it is. Perhaps this Gaymer con is a sign that this could be the future of gaming. Hopefully more game companies will follow Bethesda’s example and actually acknowledge that gay people do, in fact, exist and that we’re not just glitches in the system.

    • Cameron
      March 22, 2013 at 11:37 am

      “I would be jumping for joy if I could find just one game that had a lesbian as its lead character, but I suppose that’s too much to ask for in a time when just finding a appropriately dressed female is hard enough as it is.”

      That brings up an interesting point, though. How would one create a lesbian protagonist without delving into objectification? Creating male homosexual characters is an entirely different endeavor, as society at-large trends away from objectifying men systematically regardless of orientation. Across all mediums, most gay male characters are still written as chaste, their sexuality implied rather than explored, likely to avoid ire from the homophobic sector of the audience or to avoid misrepresentation.

      Lesbian characters would be a different matter entirely. It would be very easy for exploration of sexuality to descend into objectification, resulting in a juvenile male fantasy rather than a portrayal faithful to the represented group. Implied sexuality is a cop-out in regards to male characters, but I imagine it would be even more difficult with female characters for fear of creating a shallow sex-icon rather than a genuine representation. Most obvious avenues of expressing sexuality would be inadvisable if one is to avoid creating a pin-up.

      Fear Effect 2 comes to mind, which featured a lesbian protagonist but was arguably less than mature about it. Ground-breaking for 2001, of course, but still high on the objectification scale.

    • William Hurley
      March 26, 2013 at 1:08 pm

      Arguably, you could have played a game with a lesbian protagonist. To throw out two easy titles, “Mirror’s Edge” and “Beyond Good and Evil” both have female protagonists, both fairly fleshed out in their own right and dressed appropriately for their job in the game. Faith is a parkour-style courier, so the loose-fitting pants, t-shirt, and sneakers made sense for her character. Jade, a sleuthy reporter, is also dressed appropriately for the role that she plays in her game. Neither of their sexuality is ever mentioned as romance isn’t involved in either title, so why do either have to be heterosexual?

      I realize that I’m very much playing the devil’s advocate, but in a game about solving puzzles, saving the world, achieving a specific goal, etc., the romantic or sexualized side of a character may not be explored because it has little to do with the protagonist’s agenda. Merely because they don’t outright mention their sexual preference doesn’t necessarily mean they they’re heterosexual, right? And while this isn’t nearly as groundbreaking as a fleshed out LGBT character with their sexuality explored with another character, that is a rather touchy subject for a game.

      Most heterosexual relationships within games often seem token and unnecessary, like what has been found in “Mass Effect,” “Jak and Daxter,” or even the Mario/Peach and Link/Zelda dichotomy. The protagonist’s romance rarely furthers development of the story or characters, and it would be a media firestorm to involve a LGBT character in a hollow romance such as that. The gesture may be genuine, but it may come across as including one for free publicity points and it would still detract from the immersion of the game because, at least in my opinion, very few video game romances truly -work-

      I would like to see more varied protagonists, both in terms of gender, race, sexuality, etc., don’t get me wrong, but all of those qualities are used in such a shallow way for most of the industry at the moment and I don’t know if any further meaning or depth could be gained through merely inclusion.

  4. V
    March 21, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    I’m not sure how one would go about trying to edit or surveil a network like Xbox Live or the Playstation Network. I’ve played on both, and have had pretty much every insult imaginable hurled at me whether or not I even had a microphone plugged in. While I agree I think the quality of the insults should change, I doubt they’ll ever disappear completely. Trash talking is part of the competitive spirit to a certain degree, but more often then not the speech becomes obscene and offensive, bordering on assault. I hope that over time as our culture changes, making fun of someone’s sexual orientation will just become obsolete like the first comment suggests.

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