I honestly think this article about how video games are “slowly, quietly introducing LGBT heroes” is suppose to be uplifting. At least, I think the author thinks it’s a good news story.
Except then it has lines like:
[Games] are instead artfully presenting these characters in a manner that is more aesthetically palatable to players (and likely their concerned parents) who might find explicit same-sex love too lurid or off-putting a subject to handle with frankness in a video game.
“Lurid”? “Off-putting”? “Frankness”? It’s a fucking video fucking game! Jesus H. Fucking Christ!
That paragraph in particular is talking about Tomb Raider. Yanno, the game infamous for its rape quick-time event (nothing lurid, off-putting, or frank about that!) and graphic death-scenes for its protagonist (ditto). Is Jagger Gravning seriously suggesting that depicting Lara Croft as a lesbian is somehow more “lurid”, “off-putting”, and/or “frank” than rape, murder, and torture?
If you want to know everything that currently fucked up about the representation of GSRM groups in modern media then, bam. There’s your money shot.
Not to mention there’s actually a word for the sort of nudge-nudge-wink-wink “representation” Gravning is describing, and that word is queerbaiting.
It’s not a good thing.
From the linked Tumblr post:
Queer-baiting is what happens when a series wants to attract a queer audience without alienating their homophobic/transphobic audience. They introduce a character that queer people can relate to. They use the details and feelings common to queer people’s lives to make it very obvious to anyone who is queer, that the character is also queer. They know that because there is very little queer representation in media, queer people are going to latch onto this character, and therefore latch onto the series.
However, they never let the character actually come out. […] What this does, is tell queer people that their stories are not decent or important enough to be told.
Queerbaiting is not okay, and it’s not “progress”. It’s not “brave” and it’s not something to celebrate, especially in a medium as explicit (and mutable) as video games.
Not to mention that the games Gravning mentions in the article, Tomb Raider and Assassin’s Creed, aren’t exactly, yanno. Made for kids. Maybe it’s just me talking, but in my household, if you’re old enough to participate in a time-travelling fantasy murder-for-hire then you’re old enough to know gay people are a real thing that exist without having to hide behind subtexts and cutesy archaic slang.
Also conspicuous from the article are mentions of games that do have outright queer characters and/or storylines, including (but not limited to) Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Skyrim, Guild Wars 2, Fallout: New Vegas, The Secret World, Gone Home, The Last of Us, and Saints Row IV.
There are more, lots more.
Queerbaiting is not okay. And lauding it as if it is only serves to undermine the actual progress that’s being made in other parts of the industry.