The introduction of gay protagonists in AAA video games won't be "for a while," according to Ubisoft Montreal lead writer Lucien Soulban in an interview posted on the official Ubisoft blog.
Soulban, whose work includes scripting Far Cry 3, notes that while game franchises like Mass Effect and Fable offer users the option to seek out relationships with the same sex, the current sales and marketing systems are the primary barrier to entry for the creation of gay protagonists in large-scale games.
"...when are we going to see that gay protagonist in a AAA game?" asked Soulban in response to a question posted on the website. "Not for a while, I suspect, because of fears that it'll impact sales.
"So either we'll see a bait-and-switch like the original Metroid with Samus Aran where we'll find out damn near after the fact (PS: And Dumbledore was gay), or it'll come out of left field with Rockstar, Valve, Naughty Dog or Telltale, perhaps. But when it happens, I hope it's a serious take on it and not played up for jokes."
However, despite the difficulty in selling games featuring openly gay, playable protagonists, the games industry is slowly introducing gay characters on the periphery of video game narratives through titles from BioWare, Bethesda and Lionhead Studios, Soulban continued. "We'll definitely see more" gay characters on the periphery, he said. It just won't be obvious.
"I think it's happening quietly. Look at the choices offered in Mass Effect 2 & 3, or Fable 3, or Dragon Age 2 or Skyrim, the gay characters in Borderlands 2 who mention it without much fanfare, etc. Videogames have stopped 'announcing' gay characters. They're introducing them without much fanfare in an effort to say, Yeah, it's there and pretty normal. Call it: We're here, we're queer, and we're busy working."
According to Soulban, even Hollywood has failed to represent the gay community in a reasonable light. Using the recent James Bond film as a primary example, he says: "I think the real question is, When are going to get a gay/lesbian AAA hero(ine) who isn't a one-off joke?
"You look at Javier Bardem in Skyfall, his character's sexuality was total shtick to satisfy one scene. Otherwise, he was a narcissist with mommy issues, and a pedophile to boot. His 'seduction' of Bond was nothing more than vanity because Bond was his reflection, the new 'him.' Yay. So it bothers me when I hear people using his performance as a benchmark for diversity in entertainment, and I have heard it being bandied about."
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