I’m Not a “Gaymer”
I’m a gay man. I’m also a gamer. But the one does not associate with the other. The fact that I play video games has no bearing on my sexuality, and vice versa. In fact, I don’t even get why the word “gaymer” exists. Frankly, I think it’s silly.
There has been a lot of opinion going around about feminism in gaming, specifically in World of Warcraft. For example, Oestrus’ post or Pewter’s post on the same subject. I’m not going to go into that. However, there is what I find to be discrimination of varying sorts in the world of gaming, much of it directed toward gay people. Some of it may be considered discrimination by way of omission (referencing the now infamous “LGBT question” from Blizzcon ’11). I suppose, then, that “gaymer” refers to the LGBT gaming community – and there certainly is one.
Let me state this, though: I don’t care if there ever is an openly GLBT character in an MMO.
For single-player games, such as many of Bioware’s titles (specifically, Mass Effect and the Dragon Age series), it works. It works because the NPC interaction is dynamic, and you can usually choose whether or not to go through with that kind of story, or even pay attention to it. For an MMO, however, NPCs are very static between patches or expansions, and usually rely on outside lore to progress storyline further. Would it be cool to see LGBT characters in WoW or Rift? Absolutely. Is it necessary? Definitely not. I’m probably also taking a passive-aggressive approach to this whole situation, too.
To come back around to my point on discrimination by omission, this isn’t limited to just LGBT, either. We see a lot of omission outside of this, too. Notably, the lack of darker-skinned humans, the fact that gnomes and trolls are few and far between with regards to important storylines, etc. Much of what you see in WoW is dwarves, humans, night elves, and to a (much) lesser degree, worgen and draenei. Gnomes seem to be of little importance on the Alliance side. For Horde, it’s all revolving around the forsaken, orcs, tauren or blood elves. Trolls tend to get the short end of the stick in most cases, and even goblins see relatively little, despite being introduced in this expansion.
I note the darker-skinned humans because it just seems to be an on-going thing in many games – not just World of Warcraft, Rift, LOTRO, etc. – that humans should be pale, or otherwise Caucasian. Personally, I’m actually of American Indian descent, and I’ve lived most of my life in the Southwest United States, so to me, darker skin is the norm. Given that a lot of places in the United States and even Europe, people are less tanned, I know that player characters are going to tend to be lighter skinned. I suppose I just don’t get why the NPCs have to follow the same rules (at least, on those that don’t have random color palettes, like night elves or trolls). In the back of my mind, it bugs me a little, but it doesn’t really affect my immersion in the game to the degree where I’m offended or upset by it. That doesn’t mean other people aren’t going to look at it in the same manner, however.
Currently, in WoW content, I can think of only two each of gnomes and trolls that are prominent and that names stand out to me. For gnomes, Gelbin Mekkatorque and Darkrider Arly. For trolls, Vol’jin and Zen’tabra. Surprisingly, neither female takes the “arm candy” role that we tend to see prevalent with a lot of female NPCs in WoW. But, I digress. Of these NPCs, two of them are racial leaders. Arly is a quest giver in Icecrown (and part of the Knights of the Ebon Blade). Zen’tabra is a druid trainer in the starting area for trolls. Now, unless you did the pre-Cataclysm events with Zalazane, it probably doesn’t ring a bell. But for that, she’s a somewhat important lore figure. Even now, unless you start a new troll character, you don’t get the importance of Vol’jin’s actions and what happens with the Darkspear and the Horde as a whole since Garrosh’s inception as the new Warchief. On the other hand, if you quest through the Eastern Kingdoms, Sylvanas’ role is hugely important, specifically in both the worgen starting zone, as well as throughout Silverpine Forest. Vol’jin has diddly squat to do with current events. I haven’t played through an Alliance character recently, but I know that Mekkatorque has little and less to do with Alliance goings-on short of the Gnomeregan starting area in Dun Morogh.
Now, to get back on track with GLBT. The question was where the LGBT lore was. It was answered with, it may be added in at some point. There’s also the running joke of blood elves. I admit that I was a little annoyed when Lor’Themar Theron got his new voice-overs and had the “DO NOT. TOUCH. THE HAIR!” line. Mostly this was due to the undue stereotyping implemented. I do understand that the flirts and jokes made by blood elf males are there for flavor and humor, so I guess I shouldn’t have been annoyed by Lor’Themar’s voice acting. But, alas, it did.
To expand on this point, though. I am concerned if they do happen to add openly LGBT characters into the game – or any game, for that matter. If Blizzard decides to go this route, it’s my sincere hope that they take a cue from Bioware, and do this in a way that isn’t outrageous or stereotypical. I know that stereotypes are there for a reason, but not every gay person is excessively flamboyant. I also would hate to see the typical dichotomy of femme/butch if it’s a couple. Gay couples can be made of two “butch” men, while lesbian couples can be made of two “femme” women. Media tends to throw on us that gay men are all makeup-wearing sissies, or drag queens; it also tells us that lesbians are all flannel-wearing, mullet-sporting, fearsome creatures. This is wrong. Sure, it’s true of many people, but it’s not at all the whole. And it may not even be the majority – it most likely isn’t.
If an LGBT couple were to be introduced in the game, yes, it would garner support of LGBT gamers. It would be a good thing on the whole. But, it needs to be done in such a fashion that it isn’t just what the media tells us. Blizzard would need to break the mold, because I’d be willing to bet that many GLBT gamers aren’t what we see on TV.
So, how does this tie into discrimination in gaming? Well, humans are human. Gamers come from all walks of life. Be they straight, gay, black, white, American, Asian, Christian or atheist. There are going to be people that hate the idea.. They will be vocal about it. They will threaten to, or even actually, cancel their accounts.
It’s not uncommon to hear the insult “fag” or even “nigger” thrown around in a PUG. In fact, the other day, I was called just that, because the healer queued up for a random Zulroic instead of paying attention and queuing up for Headless Horseman. People will say that WoW is “infested with fags” or some such nonsense. I’ve actually gotten to the point where the terms doesn’t really even bother me anymore, and usually just tell people to try to come up with better insults. I equate the term to “stupid-face” or “poop-head” that you’ll see third-graders use. (As an aside, I used “poopie-head” here and Firefox spellcheck suggested I use “poop-head” instead. Go Firefox!) In any case, people are going to use this as a source of discrimination in some manner, be it in-game or not.
So, all that said, I still don’t consider myself a “gaymer,” even if just by being gay and a gamer makes me one. And it’s not even because of the negative connotations that could be associated with it. Yeah, I’m a gamer. I’m also a gay man. But I don’t identify them as being the same part of me, or my personality.