Turns out there will be gay marriage in the upcoming, pretty-much-guaranteed-blockbuster video game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, as confirmed by company VP Peter Hines on Twitter—here’s an IGN article about the tweet. In response, someone remarked that the subject had been played down, to which Hines replied: “just not making a huge deal out of it. You can marry anyone.” You meaning your game avatar.
But while video game developers are often taking the lead in promoting inclusively, many gamers retain aggressively homophobic views. In spite of them, the good fight is being fought on a few fronts. The Sims, for example, allows gay relationships, and Canadian developer BioWare has a reputation for implementing optional gay romances: You can have lesbian sex in Mass Effect and Dragon Age added a man-on-man option—though it’s all very PG-13.
Yet, as I write this, the recently-posted IGN article linked above has more than a thousand responses that make evident the tension that exists between game makers and many gamers. According to Andyp96, with regard to the implementation of gay marriage in Skyrim, “People will see it is gay propaganda or a feature included to attract homosexual gamers to buy the game.” And what does durtbag123 think? “That’s nasty….” ZombieZapper even went so far as to say “im not buying it anymore.” And dacosta08 kept his opinions brief: “stupid.”
AfromeTalheaD, noticing the growing trend among game developers to include homosexuality, asked, “Why is homosexuality being integrated into our games now?” Then added: “I don’t hate homosexuals but I CERTAINLY don’t agree with their lifestyle.”
But not all responses were so grim. JasonDaPsycho’s moral conscience compelled him to remark, “Glad to see the video game industry is getting open-minded.” To that, alismouha replied, “Except the gamers themselves are not.”
Indeed. In fact, IGN ran another article last year about exactly this problem. “Derogatory words for gay are used almost constantly while playing online to insult other players, gay or not,” Flynn De Marco, founder and editor-in-chief of GayGamer.net, told IGN. “If you make yourself known as a gay player, you can be snubbed, sent nasty e-mails, turned on by your own teammates, and verbally abused.”
Which raises the question of whether or not game developers can effect some positive change. They have the audience, and no doubt fiction has been used to sway minds in the past, for good or ill. So why now shouldn’t modern-day fiction—video game fiction—play its noble part?