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August 13, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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The Queerest Video Games

Diversity is not something that video games are typically good at. Queer characters in particular are rare, and where they do exist, tokenism and stereotyping are often a problem—there are too many games that ignorantly include an excessively flamboyant queen or a problematic “trap” trans character for comic effect. It’s not all bad though— good characters, although rare, do exist, and addressing the problems with the medium starts with demonstrating how to get queer characters right. To that end, here is a handful of games worth checking out for any queer gamer.

Persona 4 (PS2, 2008) is notable for being the only game I know of to go beyond simply having queer characters to actively exploring queer issues. The Persona series has a history of exploring adolescent ideas and troubles, and P4 brings questioning sexual and gender identities into the mix in a mature and respectful way.

The Longest Journey (PC, 1999), on the other hand, shows us a futuristic world where the fight for queer rights appears to have been won. There are a few really well-written, openly queer characters, and nobody seems at all fazed. It’s a complete non-issue.

Developer Bioware has become something of a champion of the queer rights movement in recent times, by refusing to bow to ‘family’ groups outraged by the inclusion of queer characters in Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. You can also have your character involved in same-sex relationships, a really important thing when it comes to queer gamers being able to relate to the character they’ve created.

Venom from Guilty Gear X (Arcade/PS2, 2000) and Vamp from Metal Gear Solid 2 (PS2, 2001) are gay and bisexual respectively, but also totally badass, breaking down the ridiculous ‘pansy’ stereotype. They both come from militant organisations where they had strong feelings for a now-deceased superior, and are motivated by this love to keep fighting. Being queer is an important element to both these characters, without being their sole defining feature—they’re more to their games than just ‘the gay guy’.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a small sample as a reminder that although video games as a whole are cesspit of ignorance when it comes to queer people, issues, and ideas, you can find a few nuggets of gold if you look hard enough. There’s a long way to before we’re represented fairly in games, but the first steps have been taken. The first goomba has been squashed.

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