Showing posts with label Video Games. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Video Games. Show all posts

August 4, 2017

A "Dream Daddy" is a Romance in Which is U Wake Up Next to a Real Man-Even If Its Just a V-Game


A MONTH AGO, if most people had tried to predict what kind of videogame would become the game of the summer, very few of them would have guessed "queer dating simulator." Yet, Dream Daddy did just that, with a pair of stunning usurpals: not only did it replace beloved first-person shooter Overwatch as the most-discussed videogame on Tumblr for the first time in more than nine months, but it shot to the top of Steam's global sales chart, unseating battle-royale phenomenon PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Not bad for a tiny game, created by two people, that upends so many notions about what works in a game—and about gamers themselves.
You don't just date dads in Dream Daddy, though; you areone. The game casts you in the role of a single father who has just moved to a new town with his teenage daughter. Although the two of you have been on your own for a while, the death of your spouse—you can specify if they were male or female—clearly still weighs on your mind. You meet six other dads who just happen to live in the same suburban cul-de-sac, and with a little help from a Facebook analogue called Dadbook, the dating begins.
The result is something as sincere and funny as it is heart-rending, a self-aware, deeply humanistic game whose witty script makes even the most groan-worthy dad puns seem to sparkle. It’s a subversion of dating sims that is not just the best dating sim I’ve ever played, but one of the best games of the year.
At first glance, the game's romantic roster looks like a who’s who of sexy stereotypes: the bad boy, the jock, the sensitive artist, the clean-cut hunk. Spend a little more time with them, however, and these facades dissolve, revealing complicated men whose passions, secrets and struggles cannot be neatly contained in cookie-cutter character types. Yes, the Goth Dad enjoys cloaks and long walks in graveyard, and the Jock Dad loves getting in his reps at the gym—but they both struggle to cope with rebellious children, shattered marriages, and the parts of their lives that they are ashamed to share with the world.
Leighton Gray, a 19-year-old student at the Savannah College of Art and Design who created, co-wrote, and art-directed Dream Daddy, is queer herself; when she and co-writer Vernon Shaw sat down to develop the game, she says, defying stereotypes was on the forefront of their minds: “We wanted to set up expectations and knock them down.” 
A Romance Game Actually About Romance
Those complex characterizations not only make the story far more interesting, but they render obsolete the usual rules of dating sims. For all of the genre's seeming emphasis on romance, dating sims often rely on a reductively transactional notion of love and sex, relying on a mechanic that independent game developer Arden once described as “kindness coins”: put enough compliments or gifts into the object of your affection, and receive sex in return. “A lot of times with dating sims it’s a matter of getting a read on the character’s personality, and telling them exactly what they want to hear,” Gray says. “That's a really frustrating way to play a game.”
Dream Daddy, though, encourages players not to think about romance as a game at all. You can try to impress the music nerd or the academic with knowledge you don't have, but chances are your fakery will fall flat. You might think that the best way to win points with a standoffish dad is through sarcasm; once you learn his backstory, however, you find that what he really wants is kindness. The heartaches and emotional wounds of the men you pursue are not obstacles to be overcome en route to sex, but fragments of real humanity that make them even more lovable—and often force you to reexamine your own intentions.
During the resolution of one storyline, you're given an option when comforting one of the dads in a moment of personal crisis: you can tell him what he wants to hear, or tell him what he needs to hear. If you prioritize your desire to “win” sex over the well-being of your vulnerable friend—to treat him like a game, rather than a person—the result is guilt-inducing, even a little tragic.
 Dream Daddy is an unabashedly queer game, but not performatively so; it's far more interested in being than announcing. Some of the dads have had relationships with women before, some with men, but there's no agonizing about their sexual orientation, and no more mention of it than there would be in a traditionally heterosexual romance. They simply follow their hearts, and any obstacles they face are a result of emotional and personal complications, not struggles with their identities. “We were determined to not make any of the dads' individual paths about their sexuality or have their sexuality be their defining trait," Gray says. "We can have narratives that are about queer people that are not necessarily about being queer. It’s about these relationships.”
When you create your own character, you also have the option to make him a trans dad if you wish, complete with the ability to choose chest binders. One of the dads, Damien, is transgender as well, though you can easily play through the game without realizing it; there's no neon sign pointing at his gender identity, only subtle hints as you get to know him better. Like the rest of the dads, he is who he is—and he is allowed to be, without controversy. “The most moving [feedback] comes from people who are trans or non-binary people feeling really included in this experience,” says Gray. “Someone actually messaged me today and said that this game encouraged them to come out as non-binary to their parents. The game and the community surrounding the game was so positive and loving that it encouraged them to be themselves.” 
If You Build It, They Will Play
Dream Daddy's success belies a long-held assumption of the mainstream gaming world: that making games about LGBT people is an inherently niche endeavor, one that limits your potential audience and sales. While the industry has taken marginal steps towards inclusion, queer characters still tend to crop up as sidekicks and subplots rather than protagonists.
But Gray sees something very different in the passionate response from Dream Daddy fans: an audience that has gone dismally underserved by an industry that has failed to either see it or acknowledge it, and one that is ready to show up in force when offered a full-course meal rather than just scraps. She points to game franchises like Dragon Age and Mass Effect, both which have amassed huge followings in part because of the in-depth (and gender-inclusive) romances they offer in between their battles. “I know so many people who play those games not because they’re interested in the combat, but because they want the romance and the relationships,” she says. “Younger women, women who are queer like me, and younger people in general are interested in more complex narrative experience from a video game.” Nor does putting queer characters and experiences center stage mean that a general audience can’t embrace them as well. Gray notes that while queer people—along with women and people of color—have long been expected to sympathize with straight, white cis characters, the mainstream games industry remains reluctant to ask the reverse. And yet, this presumed lack of empathy or imagination hasn’t stopped lots of people outside the LGBT community from playing Dream Daddy and helping make it a hit.
“This is a very queer game but it has legs longer than what a lot of people might have considered niche,” says Gray. “I’ve seen so many people who are straight or who never play video games play it.”
The simplest explanation for its broad appeal is the most obvious: it’s just a really good game. But its subject matter—dads—also touches a nerve that resonates with just about everyone. “Dads are such a universal, emotional thing for people whether you have a good or bad relationship with your father, or no father in your life,” says Gray. “I think we all have really complex emotions towards [them].”
She also thinks there’s a particularly appeal for millennials who are accustomed to dating less… responsible suitors. “A daddy isn’t doing to forget their wallet,” says Gray. “You’re not going to be sleeping on a mattress surrounded by empty bottles of Mountain Dew. They’re not going to ghost you. A daddy who has their life together enough to take care of another person is probably more emotionally mature than a 20-something dude might be.”
If Dream Daddy’s hit status suggests any one thing, though, it's that entrenched ideas about what kind of games can be successful and who wants to play them have less to do with reality, and more to do with the self-fulfilling prophecy that the industry has become. “The argument ‘oh, I don’t know if it’s going to sell’ isn’t going to fly anymore," Gray says. "This is what people want, and you’re going to have to get used to it."

October 28, 2014

Pax Australia Wants all the Gay gamers it can get

There’s a common misconception that the typical stereotype for a ‘gamer’ is a straight white male, but we all know that the gaming community is as diverse as any other. 
This year’s PAX Australia expo in Melbourne is hosting panels as well as creating a Diversity Space that not only lets LGBTIQ gaymers know they are not alone, but gives them their own place to relax and make new like-minded friends in. 
“When I was first gaming and questioning my sexuality I didn’t know where to look and back in those days there wasn’t anywhere to look,” says PAX Australia’s Alice Clarke, who organised this year’s Diversity Lounge.
“We just wanted to create a space where everyone felt welcome. A space where everyone is included and to show off games that are for everyone and reflect more stories than just the straight white guy shooting people while trying to avenge his maimed or killed girlfriend/wife or daughter.”
Alice is not only a huge gaymer but a huge champion of diversity, and after having a chat with the organisers of PAX Australia she was only too happy to jump onboard and help bring the Diversity Lounge to life. 
Recruiting her partner to help her organise things, they took a look at the Diversity Lounges at US-based PAX events as a place to start.
“We looked at what went right and what we thought we could change, as well as thinking about the kind of events we wanted to see at gaming conventions that would make us really excited,” Clarke tells Same Same.
“We put out the call to get community groups involved, seeing who wanted to have Meet-ups in the lounge and have community stalls, which developers wanted their games featured and what people wanted to see. From there we created events and got board games to make the space more than just a place to hang out.” 
“We don’t want to be ‘diversity’ in name only,” explains Clarke. “We really want to make sure that there were events for the community that get people talking and made people feel less alone.
“For the longest time I felt like I was the only gay in the village, but once you make more friends you realise that the games community is just as diverse as the rest of the world. It’s just that sometime it can be a bit harder to find.”
PAX Aus is a huge weekend; Melbourne is the only place outside of the US to host PAX events. Last year PAX Australia sold out, bringing people from all over Australia to town. So this year the team behind PAX AUS have been working hard to make the event bigger and better.

“I realise that we have not been able to represent every sort of group that’s out there this year,” Clarke adds, “but we put the call out and I feel very comfortable with what we have created.
“We are open to more ideas to make next year’s Diversity Lounge even more inclusive, but this weekend we have events running almost all the time and anyone can come play no matter what your gender or sexual orientation. Men are welcome during Lesbian Card Game Happy Fun Time, anyone can come join in, we don’t mind if you have a dick, you just can’t be one!”
We can’t wait to check the space out on Friday, as well as see the ‘Queering Video Games: LGBT Representation And Why It Matters’ panel which features experienced queer developers spanning the entire industry taking an inside look at “gay games”, discussing LGBT content in mainstream titles, including how video games explore queer themes and stories, and the challenges of making games that represent the diversity of the people who play them. 

July 31, 2012

Dragons, Flying Horses and Gay Marriage? } Japanese Video Game is Coming Back


Dragons And Flying Horses Okay In Fire Emblem Game, Just Not Gay Marriage

Fire Emblem, a fantasy role-playing game developed by Intelligent Systems, released its 11th iteration in Japan earlier this year and is slated to hit U.S. stores in 2013.

While plenty of new features have been added, several old ones have returned, including the opportunity for players to get married—an option that was removed from the game in 1995. Getting hitched in Fire Emblem results in stat bonuses and children—as long as the pairing is heterosexual.

Explicit same-sex romance in video games is a fairly recent phenomenon but homoerotic dialogue and storylines have been around for quite some time, including in Fire Emblem. From suspiciously campy villains to intimate conversations between male “friends,” Intelligent Systems has probably bruised their eyelids with all the winking they’ve been doing.

Which makes it all the more irritating that after 18 years of Fire Emblem without marriage, early reports indicate Intelligent Systems has revived the feature as if the world hasn’t changed since 1995. Some gamers have already registered their dismay—and, in some cases, bewilderment, that same-sex characters can’t wed:

On NeoGAF, BigJiantRobut commented how female characters Lyn and Florina “were pretty much engaged anyway.” Meanwhile, a poster on Nintendo3DSBlog made it clear he was voting with his wallet: “If a game offers marriage options and leaves another group out of the equation then, yes, I am not paying money for it. Try walking a few steps in my boots and you will be enlightened.”

You could argue that same-sex unions would be anachronistic given the game’s medieval setting—but the flying horses and pet dragons kind of undermine that theory.

You could argue that Japan isn’t one of the 11 countries that recognize marriage equality, but Fire Emblem is about as far removed from modern real-world Japan as Game of Thrones is from, say, Germany.

You might even argue that LGBT gamers are reading things into Fire Emblem that just aren’t there. But you’d have to ignore dialogue like this conversation between two male characters.

Perhaps next time Intelligent Systems will live up to its name and, instead of just having same-sex characters talk about how they can’t live without each other (wink wink), it’ll just let them get married and be done with it.


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March 9, 2012

Gay Sex in 'Mass Effect 3' video game


BY ROB SALERNOThe latest installment of the popular video game Mass Effect was released this week, and the new game gives players the option of having the lead characters pursue gay or lesbian relationships. 
Neither scene is particularly explicit, although it's clear that the characters involved are having sex.
Here are Shepard and Cortez deciding to get freaky as they wait for the fleet to get mobilized.

And here's the somewhat more softcore lesbian shower-sex scene.

Unfortunately, the scenes have led to a sadly predictable online backlash from users. As one writer at Forbes points out, there appears to be a coordinated campaign to assign the game the lowest possible scores on Metacritic. The YouTube clip of Shepard's gay sex scene has attracted more than 2,000 dislikes and an ongoing flame war in its comments thread. (Oddly, the lesbian scene has at time of writing attracted only a fraction of the attention.)
Still, it's a nice sign that the gaming industry is slowly growing up in its attitude toward gays, if it still seems to be leading its fans and consumers.

December 7, 2011

A FIFA Real Men’s Video Game ) Players Kiss and Make up (Video)

An Accidental Gay Romance

Some might call this a fluke, a twist of fate—a coincidence. Striker Andy Carroll makes his way down the pitch, tries to score a goal and ends up (accidentally?) scoring with Arsenal's keeper. The keeper of kisses.
Video games are short on men kisses. Some games, such as Bully from Rockstar, have valiantly added them. Others have shied away. Not FIFA 12.


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