I’ve loved video and computer games since I was a kid, with a decided bias towards RPGs. The only problem was that, even when I was fairly young was that I wanted to see gay content, and I was distinctly denied, even in fairly adult games. Leather Goddesses of Phobos, for example, did not reward me for trying to flirt with Trent. Sure, Fox a.k.a. Hans Taubermann from Bloody Roar, seems to be gay, or at least a cross-dresser, but he’s clearly disturbed, and his ending has him seeming to commit suicide.
And then there’s Birdo. Hmm. No comment, really.
The early games seemed to express that homosexuality didn’t exist, or that such characters were inherently rather bizarre or insane. Things have definitely changed since then. And it seems appropriate that they seem to have started with one of my favorite series of all time.
Are you sure, Avatar?
I am an unabashed Ultima nerd. This series of games offered so many options, so many stories, and it’s still the standard to which I hold the role-playing in electronic RPGs. I played the earliest ones, but it wasn’t until Ultima IV that it really captured my heart. No evil wizard. No quest to slay dragons. Instead, the game was simply about inspiring others by becoming a better person. This blew my 16-year old mind!
Another first for me in the video-game world was in Ultima VII when I entered the infamous Baths at Buccaneer’s Den. There were three bath attendants, including Roberto, a male character. If you were playing a male Avatar and told him you wanted to choose him, he made sure you were certain, but then he went with you willingly. And in case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t remember Roberto’s name off the top of my head. I did research. I’m not that much of an Ultima nerd. What Roberto and I may have been special, but it was a long time ago…
The next big leap I can remember was when I got my copy of the original The Sims. My strongest memory of that purchase, besides waking my husband up at 4 AM with the sound of screaming sims who’d set the house on fire while trying to cook, was realizing that you could have two male sims fall in love, have sex (err WooHoo), and form ongoing relationships. This was a total mind-fuck. After all, three years previous, in Final Fantasy VII, Cloud was capable of cross-dressing, seducing Don Corneo, and even choosing to kiss him…only to be shut down at the last minute for comedic effect. This was a pretty big jump in three years.
From there, things really seemed to grow in favor of games having a gay option. Fable and Fable II both options to start a relationship with and marry a same-sex partner. In Bully, Jimmy Hopkins can regain health from kissing any girl, but only a small percentage of boys will reciprocate his interest…I’m guessing around 10% of them. Too bad Jimmy was never able to hook up with poor Petey from the same game, who seemed like the most obviously gay kid in school.
All of these, however, were just child’s play (pun intended) next to what arrived last year.
It’s Not Gay If It’s an Elf
If you recognize the Penny Arcade quote in my section title, then you probably know that I’m talking about Dragon Age. So, quick confession here…I never played Dragon Age. I watched my husband play it. Watching over his shoulder, however, I saw him nurture a very mature, sweet, and yeah, sexy gay relationship with Zevran, the charming elf assassin. When this led up to one hell of a steamy sex-scene, I was stunned and incredibly pleased. I’m sure it caused a furor, but it’s something you have to really actively work towards. It’s not as if the game forces you to have gay elf sex. It’s just something that can happen in a game that’s amazing for its various choices and the consequences thereof.
Rumor that you could have a gay relationship with Alistair turned out to be just that, sadly. Some people had made changes to their PC game to put a male skin on their female characters, thus making it possible to enjoy your steamy sex scene same-sex style with Alistair. This wasn’t something the game creators added: just enterprising hackers having some fun.
It’s also not possible to have hot gay sex in the stunning Mass Effect games (much to my husband’s disappointment). Well…at least not male gay sex. Lesbian sex is available, but, as Kinsey-6 a male as you’re likely to find, this really isn’t my area of expertise.
On the other hand, when I double-checked my facts on this with my husband and our housemate, my husband said, “No, there’s no gay sex in Mass Effect.”
“But there’s porn of it!” my housemate added.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Will we see gay main-characters going mainstream in video-games? Hmmm…probably not tomorrow, but maybe the day after that. As more and more RPG-type games offer gay options, it becomes obvious that the industry knows that there’s a segment of society interested in them. Video games are art, no matter what certain individuals in the media have claimed and retracted in the past, and art reflects the society that creates it. As our society continues to gain acceptance for alternative lifestyles, it’s logical to assume our games will as well.
How About You?
What’re your favorite same-sex moments in video games? Are there characters that just seem to be that way? Share your own experiences.