Champagne Buffet

Playing Dirty: The queer hero

Playing Dirty: The queer hero: “This week, Scott Jon Siegel contributes Playing Dirty, Bonnie Ruberg’s column on sex and gender in video games:

In her last several columns, Bonnie has talked about the role of effeminate men as protagonists in video games. In her examples, she’s discussed threats to the heterosexual male archetype, and, I believe, has hinted at the possibility for an even more potent figure: the queer hero.

In my mind, the queer hero is almost a challenge to the industry, which so often writes archetypal characters for the sake of easy identification by their audience. Homosexuality has been present in video games for years, but often as a farce — at best, a flamboyant frog in Rare’s Banjo-Tooie but, at worst, figures to be ridiculed, as amusing as a minstrel show.

The queer hero is not merely ‘gay for gay’s sake.’ Rather, I define the queer hero as a protagonist whose orientation is arguably less-than-normative, but which ultimately plays no part in the telling of his or her story. This automatically discredits the lipstick lesbians of Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix, whose ‘taboo’ romance played an overt role in the game’s marketing to a young male audience. No, the queer hero is, to put it simply, ‘cool,’ and seen as ‘cool’ neither because of his/her sexuality, nor in spite of it.

Assuming this character couldn’t possibly already exist, I’ve fantasized for years about the making of a truly great game, with a protagonist who just happens to be gay. But one random, crude webcomic made me double back on my assumption, and take a closer look at one of gaming’s most popular franchises. In Resident Evil 4, Leon S. Kennedy, the once-rookie cop from RE2, returns to the series wearing blue-jeans and a bomber jacket — dressed for success. I played through the entire game without giving it a thought, but looking back, I think I found my queer hero.

Continue reading Playing Dirty: The queer hero

(Via Joystiq.)

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January 4, 2007 - Posted by | Technology

2 Comments »

  1. I wonder if it’s less a “queer” thing and more about making the heroes more like the buyers of video games. Straight and weak, but with potentially alternative hair.

    Comment by Matt | January 4, 2007 | Reply

  2. Alternative hair is hot.

    Comment by David | January 4, 2007 | Reply


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