RACE AND GENDER IN GAMES

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Zeigfried_McBacon
I'm not staff anymore, so please don't ask me about that,especially game engine related stuff.
3767
Welp... if were going by avatars here, that clearly makes me... A BASTARD (sword)!


And on a serious note, I'm just gonna say this; some of you I feel I could have an honest conversation on such things and not worry about any backlash. On the other hand, some people around here have me on such high alert that I cant be bothered to deal with them and whatever backlash, intentional or not, bring.

Also, If you're going to burn someone, don't be lazy about fire, or research, unless you like burning yourself.

Finally, if someone sincerely seeks your perspective on something, do the world a favor and express it. Too often people are met with the tone of "fuck you", and no one wins with that.
Corfaisus
"It's frustrating because - as much as Corf is otherwise an irredeemable person - his 2k/3 mapping is on point." ~ psy_wombats
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author=Zeigfried_McBacon
Welp... if were going by avatars here, that clearly makes me... A BASTARD (sword)!


A bacon sword.
I am obviously a younger, more innocent Geddoe. Obviously~ Or Katt.

Honestly, people trying to bring in representation shouldn't be shat on - that's the main thing that needs saying and that people need to learn. Sure, if you know something about the subject you can give good feedback, but keep in mind that if you're feedback consists of "This is not how x or y does stuff, duh" you're very likely an ass. Especially if the people you're telling that to are actually of x and y and know best how such things really are. Of course, if there are other issues then point them out but don't go using 'feedback' as an excuse to throw hate.

And writers? Keep fucking writing. Ignore the fuckers who will say stuff because at the end of the day they don't matter. What does matter are the people whose lives you actually do touch and who do get your message and enjoy your writing.
Yellow Magic
Could I BE any more Chandler Bing from Friends (TM)?
3065
As a heterosexual brown man (one of probably five in the RM community, for whatever reason), I gotta say Kalledemos made a beautiful post that summarised my thoughts to a T.

Yes, extra representation would be nice, but I'm not going to go apeshit if I don't see a brown person in a video game.

The whole 'relatability' factor is not a huge concern as I like to think that there is MUCH more to me than the colour of my skin! In fact, I'd be offended if people suggested otherwise..."Hey check out our new FF character AHMED he eats daal roti for lunch and every decision he makes is judged by his mum, dad and extended family" WELP (btw I play games to escape reality, not to jump right back into it)

So for me it's like: Sure, change the skin colour, but don't bother adding extra 'traits' you think are common to my race or else I will e-slap you.
Apologize in advance to the mods for bumping! But I've actually been thinking quite a lot about this lately! Especially in the post-MeToo, post-GamerGate climate, etc.

Now that I'm producing a commercial Indie Game instead of just a hobbyist project, I've had to devote a lot more of my energy to thinking about what might create the most "likability" and broad appeal with gamers - and how to balance that with maintaining my original vision. It could be entirely in my mind, but I certainly feel more pressure to compromise... in order to make any real profit from what I'm doing.

Perhaps RMN isn't the greatest way to gauge public consensus, because I'd like to think we're very diverse and generally liberal here.

But, just fishing for some opinions here. Do you think the average gamer feels that including LGBT relationships in games is inherently too "political"? Or are we past that? Should it even matter in how we craft our stories? And if so, how do you balance wanting to write authentic or subversive characters with having marketability?

It's probably no secret that BR has some gay characters (the artwork gives it away, lol), and some people have already private-messaged me saying they really appreciate seeing that. But in general, I've refrained from going full-on in talking about it in any game profile descriptions or the upcoming Kickstarter. In an ideal world, I don't want to have to make a big thing of it, because the sexuality of the characters is not really what most defines them. But on the other hand, I can understand why some minorities want their representation to be more bold and unapologetic in games.
BillyX
The Helper Of The Cows
1000
For myself, in truth? I actually think it's something that's just not considered. I don't think it has anything to do with the race, gender or sexual preference of the person making the game. It's just a matter of doing what feels normal.

I don't mean any form of insult by writing "normal" - I just think that when a person decides to make a game... it's a generic start point. We're all used to a young male... and generally white protagonist. So that's what gets put into the game.

Anyone who actually writes out a story first - and fleshes out the characters during the writing process - may decide they want to include a gay person, or a woman, man or trans gender person... black, white or yellow. This is probably only because they actually wrote out a story and fleshed out the plot and characters.

For most however, I feel they get a general idea and move in to get a game made. This generally includes the standard young, white hero. By the time the game creator actually begins to think of altering the hero character, they're already deep into the game... and don't want to go back and really re-do a lot of what's already been done. A lot of creative people will relate... at least I hope so... that once you get started you want to keep the train rolling.

By this point, if you go back and add a gay character or something, you don't want it to feel like they were put in to be the "token" gay character - so re-writes would be needed.

Sorry about this novel, but the jist of my story is this... I don't think the lack of inclusion is on purpose... more a matter not really thinking about it at all.
author=Blind
But, just fishing for some opinions here. Do you think the average gamer feels that including LGBT relationships in games is inherently too "political"? Or are we past that?

I'm going to quote you horrible out of order because it will be easier that way.

To my best of understanding, no it's not considered inherently too political. However, this depends not only on the audience, but also on you, namely how your handle LGBT characters and relationships.
author=Blind
I've had to devote a lot more of my energy to thinking about what might create the most "likability" and broad appeal with gamers...
It could be entirely in my mind, but I certainly feel more pressure to compromise... in order to make any real profit from what I'm doing.

Imagine two guys who donate $1.000 to homeless people. One does it to help homeless people while the second one expects good publicity that will make him back ten times as much money. The second one will appear far less noble than the first guy if you know this motive. This applies to you as well, the more it looks like you're including LGBT relationships just because you think that is what will fly, the less that decision will be appreciated by a large percentage of the audience. There's quite a dilemma here.

author=Blind
...and how to balance that with maintaining my original vision.
...how do you balance wanting to write authentic or subversive characters with having marketability?

You need to maintain your original vision, or rather, it needs to look like you're doing that. The LGBT characters/relationships need to fit into your game without disrupting it.

If they don't and you include them anyway, it's hard to get around the fact that you included them for other reasons than the good of your game. Heck, you actually included them at the expense of your game. First of, that means that the complaints about it being "too political" is starting to look somewhat justified, you harmed the game for a purpose that does seem on the political side. Second, you are actually sending the message that LGBT characters harms the story.

author=Blind
But on the other hand, I can understand why some minorities want their representation to be more bold and unapologetic in games.

You can not be apologetic about your LGBT relationships. If you are, you're sending the message "Sorry, I know LGBT relationships is a bad thing, but I had to include it" and I don't see who this will appeal to, much less how it can be considered a positive message.

It is however questionable if you have to be extra unapologetic about it or bold. You can for example make a character who is just very appealing, but also happens to be say homosexual. There's nothing bold about that, but it's a perfectly viable character. In real life, you can be a transsexual and politically active, but you're more interested in dealing with economical issues like taxes than LGBT questions. I'm not at all sure that it really helps LGBT people if all LGBT characters need to have their sexuality put on the front page, nor am I sure it necessarily helps your game.

Also keep in mind that it's not only the minorities themselves who may as for representation, even people who don't themselves belong to the minority in question may ask for them being represented. Out of those people, some are genuinely interested in helping a cause while others are more interested in virtue signaling. The latest group of people, the virtue signalers that is, are unlikely to actually support your game. They are also the most likely to praise and demand any kind of representation, even that whish doesn't fit into your game.

author=Blind
It's probably no secret that BR has some gay characters (the artwork gives it away, lol), and some people have already private-messaged me saying they really appreciate seeing that. But in general, I've refrained from going full-on in talking about it in any game profile descriptions or the upcoming Kickstarter. In an ideal world, I don't want to have to make a big thing of it, because the sexuality of the characters is not really what most defines them.

I'm not a marketing expert, but chance is that how much you want to shine a spotligt on the fact that some of the characters are gay depends on how much of your game is about them being gay.

Let's make up an example. You have a game where the main character is a human who got raised by dragons. Recently, there has been rumors about dragons committing atrocities, regular monstrous dragon things you hear in fairy tales. The main character, being a human, decides to set out and investigate. The main character is also homosexual.

Lets say you make a blog about how the dragons will give the main character a lot of equipment that looks mundane so the main character can work without drawing unwanted attention, but is also highly magical to give him an advantage. You get a lot of people interested in the dragon story.

Next you make a couple of blogs about how the main character is homosexual. Chance is, the people who originally got interested in your game will start to wonder why you're putting this much fanfare into a homosexual character. Wasn't the story about dragons being presumable falsely accused of committing atrocities? Now they may start worrying the dragon story was just an excuse to get the adventure going and will be dropped soon and that you will rob the main character of his cool equipment already at dungeon one or two, that in favor of a more generic JRPG adventure where you can easier focus on the male to male relationship.

Communicate clearly what is good about your game. What is the major selling point about your game needs to be marketed as the major selling point, else you risk missing the audience that would truly be interested in whatever your game is about. Granted, this depends on how marketable your game's major selling point really is in the first place.

In short, there is no guarantee whatsoever that making a big deal of the gay characters will help your game. Depending on various factors like what your game is about and how you conduct your marketing of the gay characters, you may boost your sale a little, but you can also harm it if you misstep.

I can say one thing trough, if you receive complaints about the gay characters after making a big deal about them, it's not a good idea to accuse your customers of being bigots. This goes especially if nobody complained before you made a big deal about the gay characters which implies that the issue is not really the gay characters themselves and that the bigot accusation is unjustified.
You say all that but one game that I know of that had an openly gay character as the main has been lambasted as being 'deliberately gay' by, you guessed it, non-gays. It's a decent game that doesn't deserve the hate, but because it hit the 'gay agenda' and made no secret of the fact that it was made for gay people to enjoy, others decided it was an attack against them because god forbid anyone have anything nice if it's not centered around _them_ or some shit.

Hell, even if it ends up considered to be 'pandering' that's one extra game that gay people can enjoy and use as an example of 'it exists, so it's worth creating'. I mean, straight people have had shit tons of games to pander to them. People kicked up a fuss about them, too. It's dumb, but there it is. To make something truly equal you need both sides to have the good and bad usage of their 'tropes' so I recommend not worrying about whether a game is considered to be pandering and just focus on making it a good game instead.


All that aside, do what you want. If people like it they like it. If not they don't. But in all honesty, there's going to be some people who complain because people are dumb and like to complain. At the same time, there are going to be some people who think the sun shines out your ass. There'll also be people who don't give a shit as long as the game is fun and some who look for deeper meaning behind your use of the colour yellow.

People are idiots sometimes and they can take all manner of things out of context to ascribe what they feel something means to a thing. There's always going to be that group who goes "this must mean you support x!" and either love or hate you for it. Fuck 'em. Make what you want.
I don't think there is much "but" about it. Nothing you said seem to contradict what I said. Note that a game developer can not control the audience, only her-/himself, so it makes more sense to give advice about how a game developer should act than talking about how the audience should act.

If you are trying to make money from your game, you probably do have to worry about things you shouldn't have to worry about, such as wether or not your game will be considered pandering. The "do what you want" advice I'd call too simplified. This is a rather complicated issue. On one hand, if games are made solely by what (usually an executive) people think is going to sell, the result is very often that the game end up feeling soul-less and/or pissing people off. On the other hand, if doing what you want will piss off a large percentage of the audience, then the only way to avoid pissing that large percentage off is to not do what you want in that particular case.

author=Blind
But, just fishing for some opinions here. Do you think the average gamer feels that including LGBT relationships in games is inherently too "political"? Or are we past that? Should it even matter in how we craft our stories? And if so, how do you balance wanting to write authentic or subversive characters with having marketability?


Everything you do is political, even doing nothing is political. We assume too much that being heterosexual and white is the "default" way to go when in another perspective most media is just excessive pandering to "normal" people through and through. Heterosexual characters are never given the scrutiny of having to be "authentically written" so why bother with anything else.

As for marketing I don't think it matters unless we're talking about specific instances of mass market appeal or if you're pitching to a bunch of rich people. I wouldn't even bother going after a "broad audience" when you should be going after a specific demographic (unless you're making air or toilet paper). Chances are the max audience you can reach is big enough to outweigh any group that goes apeshit over things like this anyway.
author=LightningLord2
Also, a small litmus test: Simply count down each named Character in your game(-s) and tell me the percentage of

-female
-colored
-LGBT+

Hum, depends on my game. For something like Adventures of Dragon, I can't really tell percentages since we're talking about a really big game with tons of NPCs.

However, off the top of my head I'd say there's quite a lot of females, few colored and few LGBT+.


I don't do anything political though. Politics are for politicians, I'm just here to make some games.
I'm just going to put my two cents in here about race since a lot of people have been bringing examples that make no sense:

Representation does matter, but sometimes it just doesn't make sense. If you're making a story about 1400s Europe why would half the cast be non-white? If you're even writing about 1500s China, why would half the cast be non-chinese? The older RPG maker was made for old European-inspired games, a high abundance of non-white people doesn't make sense for the games, same thing for Street Fighter for example, to which my knowledge, the majority are asian.

I'm not saying there shouldn't be non-whites but it should correlate to your world's lore and what it's based off of. I'm pretty sure it'd would piss a whole lot of people off if you took a game taking place in China and replaced everyone with Native Americans. Not because people hate Native Americans, but because it doesn't make sense in the context. 50-50 doesn't even make sense. BUT if for example, you're making a game in modern-USA, the racial diversification should be much more noticeable because it makes sense in the story.


About gender and sexuality, I have no thoughts. I never really had issues with either, but as long as you don't write your characters as their 1 "trait" of being black, gay, or trans, then you should be fine.

Thanks for coming to my ted-talk.
I don't see how sexuality matters in a game. I never play a game for the sexual interactions. When I played ff6 and ff4 I didn't wonder why tera wasn't getting it on with one of the males(or females for that matter) ff7 did have a couple of interactions between cloud, tifa and aeris(and barret for that matter) but they were minor and didn't really show characters as being hetro, bi or anything else, but did it really matter? did it make it a worse game? But maybe that's the point I would not want to play a game where the sexual interactions are such an important part of the game(Im sure a lot of people enjoy character interactions as a main component, I guess Im just not one of them)


As for race puubutt nails it right on the head. the games setting is the main thing that should control that
author=puubutt
Representation does matter, but sometimes it just doesn't make sense. If you're making a story about 1400s Europe why would half the cast be non-white? If you're even writing about 1500s China, why would half the cast be non-chinese? The older RPG maker was made for old European-inspired games, a high abundance of non-white people doesn't make sense for the games, same thing for Street Fighter for example, to which my knowledge, the majority are asian.


The whole problem with this is that you're shifting the discussion to be about historically accurate games when the discussion is about race in general in games. This counter-discourse really relies on far reaching hypotheticals to make a point about something that doesn't really ever happen (game about china featuring native americans as you posed). It's very easy to see the mindset behind this type of post because it's just not really made in good faith.

The principle idea isn't "Put less white people in your games" it's more "Why not put minorities in your games?" and the counter answers are often really insubstantial or really nitpicky exception cases. That's where the discourse really seems to be, is just devil's advocate points than consideration or at least acknowledgement. It's ignoring the greater context of things.
author=Darken
The whole problem with this is that you're shifting the discussion to be about historically accurate games when the discussion is about race in general in games. This counter-discourse really relies on far reaching hypotheticals to make a point about something that doesn't really ever happen (game about china featuring native americans as you posed). It's very easy to see the mindset behind this type of post because it's just not really made in good faith.

The principle idea isn't "Put less white people in your games" it's more "Why not put minorities in your games?" and the counter answers are often really insubstantial or really nitpicky exception cases. That's where the discourse really seems to be, is just devil's advocate points than consideration or at least acknowledgement. It's ignoring the greater context of things.


I understand but I'm not responding to the thread itself but a few comments some people made using LOTR or the older RPG maker games as examples of how they had only white people and that they were shocked with the little amount of minorities in the movie/game. I was pointing out that because they're based on European lore, it wouldn't make sense to have a lot of minorities. Sorry it didnt make sense with context given.
author=grindalf
I don't see how sexuality matters in a game. I never play a game for the sexual interactions. When I played ff6 and ff4 I didn't wonder why tera wasn't getting it on with one of the males(or females for that matter) ff7 did have a couple of interactions between cloud, tifa and aeris(and barret for that matter) but they were minor and didn't really show characters as being hetro, bi or anything else, but did it really matter? did it make it a worse game? But maybe that's the point I would not want to play a game where the sexual interactions are such an important part of the game(Im sure a lot of people enjoy character interactions as a main component, I guess Im just not one of them)


As for race puubutt nails it right on the head. the games setting is the main thing that should control that


I don't think I have played a single final fantasy game that doesn't make it very clear to the player that one or more important characters are heterosexual, even if they don't end up having any meaningful romantic relationships.

Of course, you can headcanon most of the characters as whichever sexual orientation you want, but that takes effort on the part of you, the player, whereas heterosexuality is explicit in the text.

Does sexuality matter in these games? Maybe it doesn't. It's still there, though.
^
I never had to ask if Aeris was gay or not because she was dying to jump on Cloud (just like Tifa was). Sure, they never got it on, but you know who has crushes on who and who wants to jump whose bones in most games you play. And most of the time they're heterosexual romances and it's treated as 'the norm'.

Of course Dagger wants that monkey boi's ass-ets. Of course Yuna is all for Tidus. Of course Generic Male Hero is crushing on Generic Female Hero and vice versa.

It's in almost every game out there. And that's the pity - that it's almost always hetero instead of homo or other romance. Thankfully we have a lot of Indie games that are filling the gap, and even some AAA games have realised that they need to push the boundaries a bit more, but it's still something prevalent in most games, this whole 'the norm is this', even when a lot of these games are set in other worlds where that need not be the norm at all.
I think the problem with AAA games liberty is money.
most people in the world are hetero and some of those are grossed out by anything not hetero and the companies want to rake in as much money as possible. If a lead game designer made a main character gay and sales suffered because people don't connect with the characters the same or homophobic people dislike the interactions the executives would sack him.

I think its a simple case of not yet. But the world is getting there and I don't think it will be long.
Riiiiight, because games like Last of Us didn't rake in money like a motherfucker.
I would rephrase it to say that investors or people in charge of greenlighting AAA projects are afraid it won't make money. Probably not with any kind of hard evidence at least. People are just going to make things for themselves ultimately, but that's still an issue.