August 5, 2013

Personal Preferences or Homophobia?

Posted in video games tagged , , , at 7:08 pm by riulyn

Earlier today I was reading another article about Exstestra on Siliconera, a game they call the “Kissing RPG”, and the comments section were pretty disheartening to me. In this game, the main character recruits people (or something like that) by kissing them. He recruits both males and females. So far the only art has shown the male lead kissing girls on the lips, so the assumption is that he’d do the same with the guys he would recruit. I guess for a lot of the people on that site, this fact will turn them away from the game.

When people start saying things like “I won’t buy this game because the main male character has to kiss guys”, I can’t help but wonder if they are all homophobic. I just don’t know when it’s fair to make that judgment and when it’s not. I mean, I don’t like big boobs or extremely large men and too much of that is an art-style turn-off for me, and I rather not see my video game characters try to date or have sex with all the people interested in him/her. These things happen in games that I still enjoy (Muramasa, Persona 3) but they weren’t reason enough for me to not buy and play those games that I already had interest in. To be fair, I didn’t realize that some of the art in Muramasa would be in a style that would bother me. However, for a game I wasn’t interested in like Dragon’s Crown, the fact that I really dislike the art-style means I still won’t buy the game. For comments like “I won’t buy the game because the main male kisses guys”, is it from people who only had a passing interest in the game or from people who would really dig the game and are disgusted by men kissing men? I know it’s way too early to tell. I’m just really hoping that something like a small game mechanic (I’m sure the main character wouldn’t be forced to kiss a ton of guys) isn’t the sole reason why someone who’d otherwise like that type of game doesn’t buy it.

I guess I’m still pretty sensitive to potentially homophobic comments since I feel like (also with racism and sexism and other things) there are too many people who say there’s no big problem with that and modern gaming or modern society, and they just don’t want to have discussions about it. “Making a problem when there isn’t one” or something like that is the sentiment of many of these people. “People who make games don’t know what it’s like to be a woman, non-white, non-heterosexual, etc.” or something like that is used as justification for a lack of variety in game leads or for the other types of characters to be more commonly portrayed in shallow, one-dimensional ways. “Why do we have to cater to a minority” many people think. Money (or perceived money) talks. Maybe the gameplay won’t change significantly because of perceived notions of what gamers want, but advertising will change for sure. People already speculate that no shots of the male lead kissing guys in Exstestra have been released because they don’t want to hurt their sales. It’s not a game that would expect a lot of sales in the first place, but they expect more sales than an indie studio and perhaps that’s why any small difference matters much more than sticking to the better concept. The potential compromise that may occur due to homophobia (or other things) just makes me sad if I think about it too much.

All I can really conclude is that not enough people share my taste in liking or at least not hating men kissing men and women kissing women. There’s a serious lack of that in video games, especially ones that make it out of Japan.

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