Another fabulous article by TSM contributor, James Queale. It’s heartening to see how much more inclusive the video game industry has become since our first look at inclusive gaming last year.
I have loved video games since I was a child, though I have not kept up with games as much lately. As time has gone on video games have become more popular and genres have grown with the diversity of the population playing. In the last few years video games have started to introduce gay characters and in some games you have the ability to marry someone of the same sex.
The first time I saw a huge step for LGBT gamers (or gaymers) was with the game Fable. You could fall in love and marry someone of the same sex. My teen self was thrilled! I got to see my dreams come true in a video game.
In the last few years this has been integrated more and more. And, as you can imagine Christian Conservative groups are not happy about inclusive video games. Groups like the American Family Association and Family Research Council are claiming that these games are harmful to children and that game companies are giving into pressure from the LGBT community.
One company that has been inundated with letters is Electronic Arts (EA). Anti-gay groups are unhappy with their LGBT inclusive games like Star Wars: The Old Republic and Mass Effect 3. Despite demands from anti-gay groups, EA is staying strong and the vice president even commented about the situation:
Every one of EA’s games includes ESRB content descriptors so it’s hard to believe anyone is surprised by the content. This isn’t about protecting children, it’s about political harassment…EA has not been pressured by any groups to include LGBT characters in our games. However, we have met with LBGT groups and sponsored industry forums to discuss content and harassment of players in online forums. In short, we do put options for same-sex relationships in our games; we don’t tolerate hate speech on our forums.
What I find amusing is that Star Wars: TOR is rated T for teen and Mass Effect is rated M for mature (17+). So, the complaints about children playing these games are not valid because the ratings are not suitable for children. All of that aside, children should not be banned from experiencing or playing LGBT characters. Bigotry is not innate but learned. I am glad that companies like EA stand up to prejudice and do the right thing.