Game Theory: Are Video Games Anti-LGBT?
Get ready to beat your face! Not that way… That way. Cuz we’re about to serve up some fierce, industrial, glam, JRPG realness. Hello internet, welcome to Game Theory. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been appearing on The Completionist’s channel, to talk about my thoughts on, and favorite moments from Final Fantasy 7. And the first thing that always comes to my mind when I think about that game, is girls writing sexual fanfics about Cloud and Sephiroth. Oh, and, uh, Tifa’s boobs. So, about 50% of the time it’s fanfics, and 50% boobs. But, after those three things, what always comes to my mind is Cloud’s cross-dressing scene. For those of you not familiar with the game, let me explain the situation. Our sandy-haired, manly man, (Purple outfit excluded) Must infiltrate a heavily guarded mansion to rescue the aforementioned boobs McGee. But the mansion is locked, to all but the hottest women of the slum. As such, Cloud must survive: Male hot tub parties, Squat challenges, and vending machine panty raids. In his quest to become Belle uh da ball, Cloud gets all dolled up, and depending on the items you collect, he has the possibility of getting selected for a “Roll in the Hay” with the master of the house, Don Corneo. Uncomfortable pelvic thrusting and not so subtle wordplay ensue, until finally Cloud reveals that he’s packing a sword. Two, in fact. It’s such a weird, risque quest, which makes it so incredibly memorable. I mean, can you imagine if a game developer created a scene like this nowadays? But is there anything this bizarre scenario can teach us about the world of cross-dressing? And more importantly, about our favorite form of interactive media? All tea, no shade, This episode might very well be the most important one the show has tackled so far. First, it’s essential to understand what drag is. Strictly defined, drag is: A) A costume or outfit And B) Clothing typical of one sex worn by a person of the opposite sex. Easy as that. No implications around a person’s sexuality or gender identity. And by gender identity I mean whether you identify yourself as a: Male, female, both, or neither. But that’s Webster’s definition of drag. Which is, ironically enough, a drag. Webster is the lame nerd of the dictionary party. I like to hang out with the cool kids. Like, New Oxford English and Funk and Wagnalls. What Webster’s definition lacks, is that drag is actually a catch-all term for a wide variety of cross-dressing styles. Many of which are more genres of onstage performance. Styles I had no clue existed before I started watching Rupaul’s Best Friend Race. -This is not Rupaul’s Best Friend Race!
-No sh*t Sherlock Sorry, Rupaul’s Drag Race… One such style: the Club Kids. Whereas most drag for men is interpreting feminine looks and behavior, Club Kids outright challenge what we think of as typical male and female classifications. That’s why they also go by the name “Gender F*ck”. They don’t wear clothes so much as they wear artistic pieces. Extreme and abstract. An evolution of Glam Rock and the punk movement in the 80s and early 90s. Outside of the images we’ve just been scrolling through, an example in the gaming world would be: Zack from Dead or Alive with his silver Teletubby inspired jumpsuit. That would fit right in with the Club Kids. Serving up preschool PBS pledge drive realness. An Eleganza Extravaganza. Tingle from Zelda, his verdant, cone-headed garb could also fit right into a Club Kid’s closet. Moving on though, Other types include: Camp Queens, who are mostly geared towards comedy, and High Drag, which exaggerate drag’s already exaggerated portrayal of womanhood, with even bigger hair, bigger boobs and hips, and more extreme costumes. Interesting enough, Cloud actually falls into two drag styles, based on whether or not Don Corneo chooses him. In the scenarios where he’s not selected, Cloud would be considered in Skag, or Bear Drag. This is when someone dresses in female clothes, while still retaining clearly masculine features. Like stubble, an unshaven beard, or a beer gut. The Magypsies, The Magypsies from Mother 3 are a great example. As is Jean Armstrong from Phoenix Wright. The comedy here comes from extremely feminine clothing and hair, clashing against highly masculine features like stocky bodies and facial hair. But if Cloud is successfully able to pass everyone’s inspection, he’s the epitome of a new and trendy style of drag. Fishy Drag. Weird name, right? Drag artists serving up fish aren’t generally entertainers. Their goal is to blend into society. Actually play with the illusion of being a female. Even getting mistaken for one. Sounds a lot like Cloud’s mission, right? So why is it called Fish? Well, it’s a man that’s able to resemble a woman so well, That the true gender is confusing, or fishy. I get it… And with that, unfortunately ends the fun part of the episode. To use a drag term, Now it’s time to read the gaming industry to filth. First let me say this: I’m sorry. After some serious critiques of gamers and the game industry with the last four episodes, I wanted this one to be a fun, light-hearted romp through the world of drag queens. Honestly! I started off this episode planning to review more drag styles in depth, and ultimately write a conclusion about how this all ties into the game’s theme of identity. Cloud wearing fishy drag and being mistaken as a woman as a method of reinforcing his quest for self-discovery throughout the game. Our studly soldier discovering the truth about who (or what) he is is a central motif throughout Final Fantasy 7. And the crossdress scene is one of the game’s earliest examples. Jirard’s videos actually do a great job on the subject, so I highly encourage you to check it out. I’ll link to it at the end. But while I was researching for this video, I noticed a distubing trend. A trend I wanted to talk about. It all started with Cloud’s quest to acquire his drag items. This is what happens in the hot tub. When I was younger I thought nothing of it. Looking back now though, the language here is incredibly suggestive. Lines like, “It hurts, Heave, pant, Join the club, and Daddy’s lonely”. Suggest some form of non-consensual touching at best, and outright rape at worst. I hate using that word. But, this is a video about drag. So, I paid it no mind, made a little note, and dug deeper into gaming’s most famous cross-dressing and/or transgendered characters. Here’s the list I compiled, let’s see if you can spot a trend. Birdo, Flea from Chrono Trigger, Poison from Final Fight, Alfred Ashford from Resident Evil: Code Veronica, and Mother 3’s Magypsies. Any ideas? Villain, villain, villain, villain and out of his f*ing mind, I mean just LISTEN to that laugh! But seriously he actually has a mental disorder. And finally, the Magypsies. Not villains, but also not human… Speaking of inhuman, Banjo-Tooie also has a crossdresser, Merry Maggie. The character looks and acts like an idiot. Oh, and then there’s Space Quest 4, in which a man buying female clothes is accused of being a sicko. So, do you see the trend yet? Well, it doesn’t just stop at cross-dressing characters, and I found that it affects the whole spectrum of LGBT life. As a recent example, Trevor from GTA V is shown to be attracted to the same sex, but he’s also shown to be bipolar. So similar to Alfred Ashford, homosexuals are apparently mentally challenged. Next, we have a trio of bisexual characters from Metal Gear Solid: Vamp, Volgin, Rykov. Villain, villain, and villain. Oh, and this one’s even a sadist! Speaking of winning combos, Ash from Streets of Rage 3, Villain, and a blatant stereotype. Genaro Seneschal is gay, obnoxious and racist. 1995’s The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery not only features the longest most boring title in gaming, but also features Baron Von Glower, homosexual villain sexually pursuing protagonist Gabriel. He’s also a werewolf breed, also a monster. Inhuman. Or how about the first non-heterosexual character to ever appear in a video game, Curtis Craig from Phantasmagoria 2. Oh, he can’t just be bisexual, he also has to be into S&M. In short, sexuality deviating from male-female relations is repeatedly getting equated to mental problems, violence, and being inhuman, or some sort of monster. Speaking of violence though, the fighting game World Heroes Perfect took it to a whole new level. Not only is hero Rasputin shown as stereotypically gay, (note the Marilyn Monroe poses and the effeminate biting of his thumb) his “Super Move” is removing his robe, taking his opponent behind a bush, and raping them. And if you time it right, you can go two rounds back-to-back. I would make a joke here, but honestly, this is no laughing matter. Even more recently, 2010’s Red Dead Redemption had Captain Vincent a De Santé, again a villain, this time either homosexual or bisexual, alluded to being a child rapist. Upon his defeat, “A lot of young boys will sleep safe in their bed.” But there’s more. LGBT and cross-dressing characters that aren’t portrayed in some negative light get censored in North America. Vivian from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door for example. In the Japanese version the character is a male who identifies as a female. he starts the game as a villain, (Because of course he does) but after getting abused one too many times by his sisters, joins Mario. A cross-dressing villain gets redeemed. Huzzah! In the English version, All references to Vivian’s questionable gender are removed. And again in 2001. Nintendo removed the possibility for same-sex relationships from The Sims for the Game Boy Advance and DS Releases Perfectly normal, healthy homosexual couples are flat-out disallowed. But if you think that’s the last of it, don’t worry. Some forms of alternative sexuality are okay. While Street Fighter’s Eagle, a confident homosexual man, had all lines alluding to his homosexuality eliminated in English releases, Juri’s official profile has no problem saying she likes large breasts. Moving to another fighting game in the Darkstalkers series, Lilith and Morrigan are allowed to be openly bisexual. I wonder why they would choose to leave the two half-naked female vampires unchanged in their sexuality? Hmmm… Hmmmmmmm…. Yeah, I got nothin’. Mass Effect 2 had no problem with female Shepard sleeping with Kelly Chambers, but is a male Shepard allowed to date the male members of the crew? No. Similar story with Saints Row 4. The caucasian female protagonist is allowed to be bisexual, while all others are hetero by default. Oh, but don’t worry, Not all lesbian relationships are okay. Dead Rising 2 featured twin sisters Crystal and Amber, who were implied to be in an incestuous relationship. Again an example of an uncensored lesbian relationship, but don’t worry the game clearly painted them as villains. Gay, incestuous, villains. I’m sure many of you have already left in the comments, “Persona!!!” or… “PERSONA!!!” but that’s just one series. Sure, Guilty Gear has Bridget, Earthbound has Tony, Mass effect 3 allowed more same-sex options, and games like Fable have always been open to non-heterosexual pairings. But a few games here and there can’t compete with the list I just went through. Games that depict gay characters as villains, inhuman, psychotic and violent. (Unless of course you’re a lesbian) Meanwhile, the characters that can serve as positive depictions from these communities like Eagle get censored, neutered, and un-sexed. There’s always a lot of talk about gamers being so narrow-minded, so filled with hate and bigotry. But the games we’re being given do nothing to expand our knowledge of these communities. Quite the contrary, they make the LGBT community the other. Evil, simply because they’re different. If games provided more realistic, well-rounded portrayals of these characters, rather than just making them outdated stereotypes or villainous stock characters, would the gaming community be a more open, accepting place? Or in the end is it our fault? We just did three episodes on what gamers want. Are game companies just giving us the storylines the heterosexual male gamers are comfortable playing? For all its progressive storytelling, Persona’s numbers aren’t anything to look at. So what’s the problem here? Is there a problem here? And to think, all this heavy discussion started because I wanted to do a fun video on a guy in a dress. Anyway lots of food for thought. But hey, that’s just a theory,. A Game Theory! Thanks for watching! Welcome back to the Super Amazing End Card Tournament! Where the decision to subscribe, is always the right choice. Last episode’s pasta poll saw you evenly divided between spicy and smooth sauces, 40% to 40%. No chunky fans here apparently. And back to the topic at hand. If this is a subject that interests you there are numerous games out there that do address these issues. As I said before Persona is an excellent example. Another one is DYS4ia. It’s a small little flash game, well, not so much game as it is a flash experience, that appeared on the website, Newgrounds a couple years back., still up there, didn’t go anywhere, Newgrounds is still around, but definitely worth checking out. Basically it takes you through one person’s gender transformation told through small little minigames. So definitely worth checking out. Oh, and by the way, I said I would link to Jirard’s series videos over here, so click on this for over an hour’s worth of Final Fantasy 7 goodness, Featuring yours truly. Anyway, so I’ve given you something else to watch on another channel and a video game to play, so there you go friends. That’s all for today. Something a little bit lighter next time. I don’t have to be your friend to win this show!