A few queeries

Games Master - - Fanbase - Alex Westwood, email

Af­ter read­ing Sam’s thought­ful ar­ti­cle on queer rep­re­sen­ta­tion in gam­ing in is­sue 329, I was prompted to think more deeply about the sub­ject and raise some points and ques­tions for con­sid­er­a­tion. Firstly, it’s worth men­tion­ing that as a straight, white male never have I thought I’d been dis­crim­i­nated against nor have I had any short­age of videogame char­ac­ters to ‘rep­re­sent’ me. But it is this con­cept of ‘rep­re­sen­ta­tion’ that I’m hop­ing you can help ex­plain to me.

Per­son­ally, I do not look to videogame char­ac­ters, to ‘rep­re­sent’ me but rather to en­gage with me. Be it through good writ­ing, good per­for­mance, or good nar­ra­tive, char­ac­ters in en­ter­tain­ment will en­gage with me on an emo­tional level not be­cause of their de­mo­graphic but be­cause of their story and their de­vel­op­ment. This is why I see the kiss shared be­tween El­lie and Ri­ley in The Last of Us: Left Be­hind DLC not as a use of ho­mo­sex­ual im­agery but as an ef­fec­tive story-telling tech­nique that, re­gard­less of the sex­u­al­ity be­hind it, is the cul­mi­na­tion of these two char­ac­ters’ arcs to­gether.

What would be your re­sponse to this? Do you think sex­u­al­ity in a char­ac­ter is an im­por­tant fac­tor in your abil­ity to en­gage with them?

We’re glad Sam’s piece got you think­ing, Alex! The thing is, rep­re­sen­ta­tion will nat­u­rally not feel like a big deal when the ma­jor­ity of me­dia is cater­ing di­rectly to your de­mo­graphic. But try to put your­self in the shoes of some­one who rarely sees their sex­u­al­ity (or eth­nic­ity, or gen­der, etc) rep­re­sented, or only sees it used in a stereo­typ­i­cal or neg­a­tive way. Imag­ine if there were no games star­ring straight, white male heroes – don’t you think you would feel ex­cluded?

Rep­re­sen­ta­tion means dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple, and it can be a sub­tle and com­plex thing. As you say, you may not di­rectly put your­self in the shoes of a game hero, or in­deed you may find your­self em­pathis­ing very strongly with a char­ac­ter who is very dif­fer­ent from you. But trust us when we say that, for many of those from marginalised or mi­nor­ity groups, it is in­deed ex­tremely mean­ing­ful to see char­ac­ters like them­selves, and sto­ries told from a perspective sim­i­lar to theirs, in the me­dia they love.


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