What are some of your favorite video games?
Now how many of them have non-male protagonists?
Now how many have non-white protagonists?
How many have queer characters in them?
For a long time to me the only answer to these questions was the Borderlands series. There’s more than a handful of characters in the collective series that are openly queer, POC, and not to mention a really awesome discussion of the ‘friendzone’ between Mr. Torgue, the big burly man character, and Springs, your guide/friend who happens to be openly queer.
I’ve been waiting for a game with ideas as open-minded as Borderlands to spread to other games which I haven’t really seen all that much but this past week I visited the SXSW gaming convention and noticed a lot of these up coming games were truly new and different. Not just in the innovative gameplay aspect but also in the diversity-in-storytelling department. I played a handful of games that featured characters that were openly queer and two of those games allowed the option to chose my pronouns!
After I played Read Only Memories (please look into the game it’s got really amazing character design among other things) I went to a second booth where I played a table-top game with my friend who is bigender. Someone came to us teaching us how to play the game and immediately misgendered us and gendered the cards we were playing with… Weird. It was such a surprising and abrupt reminder that the society around us, video games, were still slow to catch up to the progressive tide of 3rd wave feminism.
I’d say that the gaming community specifically is more progressive then society in general but honestly: that’s not saying all that much. There are still many people in the town I live in that still use the F-slur and we’re still being told to be shame people who identify as women and to shame those who openly love themselves and who they are.
But…I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t say that it’s getting better. A couple of years ago Read Only Memories probably wouldn’t be picked up by any developer let alone be able to attend as event such as SXSW. A couple of years ago I probably would never be able to come out to anyone let alone myself.
I’m lucky to live in a progressive nation and in such a progressive era but all this change is not nearly enough. Honestly, I don’t think it’ll ever be enough.
Thank you for being so wonderful everyday and supporting me and the work I’ve been doing!