In 1998, Patrick J. Barret joined the Maxis development team as the programmer of his new game, The Sims. Will Wright, creator of the game, gave him some documents that describe how the social interactions for the AI of the game would be develop. Neither Barrett nor Wright realized that they had given him a discarded design of the game.

Although the company had decided to eliminate same-sex couples from the game to avoid controversy, Barret didn't question what was written in the document that was delivered, so he successfully programmed the network of social interactions that allowed any type of romantic relationship. Once implemented, the company seemed happy that same-sex couples had returned, so they decided to keep it in the game, generating one of the most talked about E3 talks when, in the middle of the Maxis conference, two women sims began to kiss passionately in front of the surprised public of 1999.

20 years have passed since then, and yet, the exit of a character's wardrobe or the presence of an open LGTB in a triple A game continues to be the front page of all specialized videogames websites. They continue provoking scandal and hatred, but also celebration and much joy in those who, at last, are represented in their leisure environment.

At what point are we right now? The mentality of the average player is vital to understand the decisions that the industry takes when creating characters within the collective. We will see it from the point of view of the current Triple A, since, at the end of the day, they are the ones that are aimed at the wider target audience and those that have, in the end, greater influence. If you want to read a brief tour of LGBT history to this day, we recommend A Gay History of gaming by IGN.

A part of the general public has the need to 'code' the LGTBI characters.

Straight by default.

When in 2016 Blizzard released a Christmas comic in which it's discovered that Tracer, main character of the brand of Overwatch, was a lesbian, many put the cry in the sky. 'It's forced', 'It wasn't necessary', 'It doesn't contribute anything', are many of the accusations that tend to be heard when one announces that these characters are homosexual.

One of them "Doesn't contribute anything" is really interesting because: Does sexuality provide something to a character? When we assume that a character can only be LGTB to give a tragic past, a specific motivation or a special contribution, what we do is assume heterosexuality by default. A character MUST be straight and, if not, there must be a good justification for it.

Survey conducted by the mombot user about gay characters

A Twitter user conducts a survey to see if Tracer really was less loved after his exit from the closet. Answer: No.

This is generated due to the need of the public of coding the LGTB characters. As if there was some insecurity if you cannot tell the naked eye if a character is part of the collective or not. This visual coding affects the way we generate expectations about other individuals and modify our behaviors and attitudes regarding it. By breaking those expectations, is when you can feel those insecurities to have assumed certain things based on how it looks. Exactly what happened with Soldier 76.

Lesbians yes, gays not so much.

Was it necessary to make the Soldier 76 gay? Well, why not? Even after Tracer's exit from the closet, Soldier 76 seemed to sting even more. Why?

From an immersion point of view, a heterosexual male player finds it easier to feel connected to a lesbian woman than to a gay man. In 2013, Dontnot Entretaiment eliminated the possibility that Nilin, protagonist of Remember me, had a partner, since it was considered that players could feel uncomfortable having to put on the role of a woman with a boyfriend. Being in Nilin's place, those who were living the experience of having a male partner were the players themselves.

In addition, lesbians are easier to digest by a heterosexual male audience, since they activate the trick of sexual fantasy, making them become attractive in the eyes of the user.

Would it change our perception of Nathan Drake if we knew that, for example, it is bixsual?

However, Soldier 76 was a 'hard blow'. It's a character designed in the role of tough guy, the typical soldier of shooting games, a mature man, a standard of masculinity or, put another way, a power fantasy for players. Fantasy that is denied to the most closed-minded users because, the fact that he is homosexual, changes the character.

Ana and Soldier 76 in Bastet from the Overwatch comic collection.

Blizzard usually gives additional information about his characters through its comics. That's how we met Vicent, who was the couple of Soldier 76.

The tainted mentality that LGBT characters have to give clues that they are or that their sexual orientation must be important to their plot does nothing but feed the subconscious idea that being of this collective is not normal, or even that it is bad, and for that reason it must be well justified.

However, it is simple, if after 4 Uncharted of so many adventures and hardships, it was discovered that the character of Nathan is bisexual and at some point he had a boyfriend, Would it invalidate all the years spent with him? Cases such as that of Soldier 76 must be repeated in the future, since demonstrating that nothing changes due to your sexual orientation is one of the bases that we should settle in order to eliminate any homophobic thinking.

Although today we have many examples of gay characters in npc or sagas in which the player can choose their own orientation, the move to a game featuring exclusively a gay character is still waiting for its moment.

We don't talk about transgender people.

The trans identity has been even more punished than the sexuality orientation in video games. The fastest examples come to mind, Poison of Street Fighter and Birdo of the saga of Mario Bros, don't stop being harmful and exaggerated stereotypes with the typical tropes associated with the collective , such as hyperxualization, the concept trap and the justification of its existence due to some kind of trauma in its past. Even in 2011 we find examples like Erica, from Catherine , whose "good" ending was an alternative future in which she decided not to transition, living her life identifying herself as a man after the events of the game.

There are some very good examples like Krem, from Dragon Age , assigned female at birth. Krem has a credible backstory within his world, with a natural development. The developers asked for help and advice from their trans players and friends so that it would be a positive and free representation of these hateful stereotypes .

As in the case of gay characters, the fact that a transgender protagonist is synonymous of rejection when is seen as 'less man' or 'less woman' does nothing more than reflect a misogynist and transphobic air that sometimes is difficult to assume. Again, asking for a justification for them or a tragic background is a way of saying that transgender people need a special motivation to exist beyond living their life .

Even thinking about the idea of putting a protagonist character who identifies as trans is still far from the triple A, however, examples such as Krem mark a dynamic of good practices that can be applied in the face of a future of the sector more open and fair with transgender people.

Again, if after 10 years of adventures it was revealed that Nathan Drake was assigned a woman at birth ... Would anything he lived change in something?

In Dragon Age, the character Krem identifies himself as a trans man.

Krem, from Dragon Age, answers naturally questions about his transsexuality.

Making a good LGTBI + character

Some indie games have managed to work this outstanding subject better than the big ones in the industry.

In 'The Red String Club' by Decostructeam, Larissa's character is presented as a sexual but non-sexualized woman, whose identity as trans is only one of her characteristics, but not the main and only motive on which flows the whole character.

Games like 'Dream Daddy' represent a great diversity of bodies and personalities , within the great selection of gay characters outside the stereotype, with which you can have your ideal date, being your avatar part of the same group.

Mae, protagonist of Into the Woods, presents herself in the game as a bisexual, in addition to having her best friend Gregg, who is in a relationship with another man.

Especially at the time of designing NPC that appear and leave without grief of glory, we must dedicate a time to make them see real, they are not there just to 'be gay' or 'be trans' . Give them the worthy background and personality that we would give to any NPC would have. Their orientation is part of their identity, yes, but it is not all that they are .

Pampering these characters in the same way that you give importance to others is what helps normalization. It is our responsibility as creators that dealing with respect the creation of these characters .

What do you think? Do you know other good examples of representation? Tell us on our Twitter, Facebook o Instagram!



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Marta Gil

Marta Gil

PR, Product Manager & Social Media in Gametopia. FemDevs Regional coordinator.
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