A few queeries
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.
“I DON’T LOOK TO VIDEOGAME CHARACTERS TO REPRESENT ME”