Video games have progressed at an astounding rate both in graphical fidelity and narrative sophistication – for the most part. Topics and themes that would have never been dreamt of in gaming’s heydays have been produced in order to give gamers a better, more comprehensive experience. However, with all this narrative progression, a few glaring holes have appeared across gaming’s CV. One of which, is how same-sex relationships are presented and more importantly, controlled.
The first instance of a homosexual character in a video game was back in the 1980s before Madonna became a prowling dead-eyed skeleton and Prince Charles was only planning to murder his then wife Princess Diana. The game was a mystery text-based adventure called Moonmist in which the player takes the role of a young detective who is called to investigate a haunted castle. Moonnmist was rather complex for its time, sporting multiple randomly selected plotlines which included a female character that becomes jealous because her girlfriend marries a man. Although not a playable character, Moonnmist handled the idea of same-sex relationships remarkably well.
We’d have to wait until 1996, however, for a playable character that differed from the heterosexual brand. Craig, from the point-and-click psychological horror Phantasmagoria 2, was the first bisexual playable character in video games, even though the plot revolved around Craig and two girls. An important point is other than Craig briefly mentioning his bisexuality, he doesn’t say much on the subject, which helped make his character believable. He doesn’t throw his sexuality into even conversation just to make super sure that the individuals around him and us the player know that’s how he identifies himself.
Since the addition of both homosexual AI and playable characters, the representation of these individual has been mixed, to say the least. From mature renditions such as The Walking Dead’s Matthew and Walter, who are portrayed as a realistic couple, to the more tongue-in-cheek depictions such as Mr. Slave from the lukewarm RPG, South Park: The Stick of Truth. In my eyes, as games like South Park: The Stick of Truth are satirized portrayals of not only homosexuals, but culture in general, they can be forgiven for their crass portrayals. Those types of games aren’t out to get one group of people, they’re out to get everyone.