Playpen

Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 12:23 on 29-06-2011, Wardog
Well - but doesn't that just give the go-ahead for latent homophobia? Oh *this* sort of character would *never* be a gay. And so on.

Also, although I personally didn't like Zevran Dudecorset, and although I personally think they lost their bollocks when it came to the fact male bisexuals actually sleep with, y'know, menz ("I am Zevran Dudecorset, I like men and women, apparently, but mainly I talk about women") but at least bisexuality was part of his character, not just a switch the turned on.
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at 11:58 on 29-06-2011, Arthur B
I completely agree that who your PC wants to get it on with is definitely part of that ownership, and being able to express attraction towards whichever NPCs you want your PC to is obviously vital to delivering that.

I think whether NPCs in your party should necessarily reciprocate when your PC expresses interest is an entirely different and way more difficult question, to which I'm not sure I have a good answer. Saying "No, if it's genuinely inconsistent with an NPC's character for them to reciprocate then they shouldn't" sets you up to disappoint people who are in it for the wish fulfilment. Saying "Yes, if the player declares that they want their PC to attempt to romance this NPC, said NPC should be up for that and should be romanceable if the players play their cards right, no matter what decisions we've made about their character ourselves" seems to lead to Schrodinger's Bisexual if you try to implement it in a heavy-handed and simplistic manner.

To add even more confusion to the mix, I'm not entirely sure Bioware have actually sat down and decided collectively what their answer to the question actually is. So you end up with a messy compromise where some companions stick to their guns whereas others Zevran about in an unappealing manner.
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at 11:05 on 29-06-2011, Wardog
Well I think it's slightly more complicated than that - I mean who your PC wants to / is able to get it on with is part of that ownership as well, isn't it? But I don't think that the answer to this is Schrodinger's Bisexual.
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at 10:48 on 29-06-2011, Arthur B
having a bunch of mechanical bisexuals for companions and love interests only serves to erase sexual identity from the game.

It occurs to me that that's precisely where the distinction lies. When you're talking about the PC, declaring that they can't be gay if the player wants them to be takes away the player's ownership. When you're talking about NPCs, having most-to-all the romanceable ones be bisexual (or giving them Schrodinger's Sexuality so they're straight when the PC is not of their gender and gay when they are) erases sexual identity for the sake of giving the player a degree of ownership or control over the NPCs personalities the player never really expected to have in the first place.

Though I guess there's a question there of what the purpose of companions and allies in a CRPG is. Are they meant to come across as real people with real personalities of their own which you can't absolutely mould to your will through dialogue choices, so there'll be some NPCs who are always 1s or 6s on the Kinsey scale no matter what options you pick for your PC at character creation? Or are they meant to be puppets who will adopt whichever personality traits you find more fun, so if you think it'd be hot for your PC to get it on with a particular companion, said companion will be turn out to be up for it?
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at 09:41 on 29-06-2011, Wardog
Homophobe. Click to add this item to your cart.

People who bought this item also purchased: Racist, Anti-Semite, and Koala Bear.


Rofl!

Okay, to defend Casey Hudson and feel free to throw rotten fruit at me ... I understand where he's coming from to an extent, although I don't agree, of course. I think it's a problem that Shepard is a PC into whom the player is supposed to have input, so saying Shepard isn't gay, or black, or a woman essentially takes ownership and agency from the player, and that is, of course, the cardinal sin of game design. As well as being all sorts of -ist because it devalues of alternative readings of Shepard. It would be different, I think, if Shepard was defined in the way, say, Geralt of Rivia is defined - I mean, nobody is complaining that Geralt isn't gay or a woman, because it's simply not who he is. However, as far as NPCs are concerned, I think in DA2 Bioware went too far the other way and should have listened to their On Team Homophobe because, actually, having a bunch of mechanical bisexuals for companions and love interests only serves to erase sexual identity from the game.

(PS - in this context Anti-Semite sounds like a sort of yeast-based spread, like Vegi-Mite)
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at 07:55 on 29-06-2011, Melissa G.
"Where are you getting this random homophobe from?"

Makes me think of something you can order off the Internet!


Homophobe. Click to add this item to your cart.

People who bought this item also purchased: Racist, Anti-Semite, and Koala Bear.
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at 06:29 on 29-06-2011, valse de la lune
IIRC a Bioware person (Casey Hudson?) said that about male Shepard. That he has a character and a story and if he's gay it won't be that story anymore, or something oblivious like that.
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at 00:28 on 29-06-2011, Andy G
"Where are you getting this random homophobe from?"

Makes me think of something you can order off the Internet!
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at 20:34 on 28-06-2011, Arthur B
OMG Ned was Jon Snow's father!
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at 20:04 on 28-06-2011, Dan H
OMG Snape Kills Danaerys on page 216!
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at 20:00 on 28-06-2011, Robinson L
Pyrofennec: Btw did I mention how cute "ferretfrenzy" sounds? Because it does. Way cute.

You have now. Thank you.

Vermisvere: From IMDB: "A look at how the intense relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud gives birth to psychoanalysis."

I'm guessing nowadays you can't say "intense relationship" between two men without having homoerotic undertones shoved in there somewhere along the way.


I also find "gives birth" an entertaining innuendo in this context.

Beyond that, I'm still highly amused by the thought of Viggo Mortensen as Freud.

Freud: "Let's hunt some repressed childhood sexual fantasies!"
Jung: "Yeessss! (If only they'd cast John Rhys-Davies ...)
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at 19:51 on 28-06-2011, Ash
According to this, some copies of A Dance With Dragons have been released early.

Spoilers, of course, have already reached the Internet.
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at 19:45 on 28-06-2011, Wardog
Where are you getting this random homophobe from? Or do you just think that's the case based on the fact that they keep de-queering their games?
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at 19:10 on 28-06-2011, Orion
It seems clear that there's considerable internal tension among Bioware staff about queer and gender issues. I'm saddened to hear that one of the designers is a homophobe, but it lends perspective to some weird things. Mass Effect 1 actually has voiced dialog recorded for MaleShep/Kaidan and FemShep/Ashley romances. They can't be used in an unmodded game, but the sound files are there. At the time, I assumed they were disabled in a misguided attempt to stave off the FOX news controversy, but maybe the team itself was divided.
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at 18:18 on 28-06-2011, valse de la lune
Furthermore, we learn in Mass Effect 2 that Asari fathering children is considered dangerous and unnatural in Asari society.


Exactly. Because let's face it, the Asari is pure undiluted fanservice, not some progressive exploration of gender and sexuality. When I see people insist otherwise I just see... well, a lot of reaching.

@Pyrofennec: Sorry, I'm not sure quite what you meant. Do you mean "this quote makes no sense" or "this quote doesn't support a queer reading because of this other thing" or something else?


It makes no sense in that a queer reading of Turians doesn't really work due to 1) they're binary-gendered and 2) as far as we can tell they have distinguish male from female--that humans can't tell because they're visually similar is quite beside the point, and in which case Garrus is very much coded male (and is male).
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at 17:23 on 28-06-2011, Shimmin
@Pyrofennec: Sorry, I'm not sure quite what you meant. Do you mean "this quote makes no sense" or "this quote doesn't support a queer reading because of this other thing" or something else?
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at 17:16 on 28-06-2011, Orion
Contrary to that article, I think the Asari in Mass Effect are pretty unambiguously female. Yes, they are capable of fathering children--but only on other Asari, I believe. From a human perspective, they're women, since they can bear human children but not impregnate humans. Furthermore, we learn in Mass Effect 2 that Asari fathering children is considered dangerous and unnatural in Asari society.

So while there's some queer potential there--particularly, the idea that FemShep might be able to impregnate Liara, for the most part I think the Asari read as a society of women with imperfect cloning technology, and not really as non- or bi-gendered aliens.
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at 15:10 on 28-06-2011, Wardog
To be fair, I believe there will be gay options in MEIII, and they've recently introduced Femshep into their advertising so ... y'know ... they're getting better.

Although I don't read Garrus personally as anything other than a dude, I think there is something inherently a bit transgressive about the fact you're, err, getting it on with an alien, not that I would naturally associate this with non-binary gender but maybe that's just me. I suppose there's an extent to which the alien physiognomy means that you do at least move away from conventional notions of the masculine and the feminine but ... yeah ... it's reaching a bit. I still thought it was interesting though.
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at 14:51 on 28-06-2011, Arthur B
I'm also personally unable to ignore the fact that the designers have gone on record as basically saying "SHEPHERD ISN'T GAY BECAUSE THAT WOULD TOTALLY RUIN HIS CHARACTER" (I exaggerate slightly, but only very slightly).

That particularly irritated me because it's a completely viable choice in the ME games to ignore any and all options to pursue romance entirely. If it doesn't wreck the character or spoil the plot in any way to play the guy as not having any partners at all, why on Earth would it make any difference to have him be gay?

There's basically no good answer to that; it's manifestly evident that the statement isn't based on any deep ME plot secrets (because, again, the plot doesn't require you to romance anyone), and it's certainly not based on any particular conception of Shepherd's personality considering that the designers are happy to allow you to vary it from diplomatic do-gooder to steely-eyed psychopath and several gradations in between. And yet they insist they're not homophobic, they just... uh... don't really want to give any thought to male-Shepherd kissing a dude.
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at 14:50 on 28-06-2011, valse de la lune
Physically, Garrus is a birdlike metallic-plated wasp-waisted alien who is about as non-human in appearance as a bipedal creature can get, and who is coded male only by his voice and the pronouns everyone applies to him.


That makes no sense because, unlike the Asari, Turians are binary. There are female Turians. Like this one. One could argue that visually the males and females look more or less similar, but we all know gender isn't about how you look or even your biological characteristics.

There was a moment, after Garrus tells a story of hooking up with a former crewmate,


Whom Garrus explicitly refers to as female. So, uhm.

I dunno, trying to pass him off as non-binary or whatever reads like a lot of reaching to me.
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at 14:33 on 28-06-2011, Dan H

I quite liked a couple of articles I read recently on Mass Effect - one about race and gender, and the other about queerness.


Interesting...

I think this is one of those difficult situations where the flexibility of video games allow an individual playthrough to support readings which the game as a *whole* doesn't really support at all. While it's possible for a female Shepherd to romance Garrus, and for the player to read that romance as non-gendered, it's very much *not* possible to do the same with a male Shepherd, because however an individual player may read it, the *game* clearly believes that Garrus is a dude and that Shepherd is straight. I'm also personally unable to ignore the fact that the designers have gone on record as basically saying "SHEPHERD ISN'T GAY BECAUSE THAT WOULD TOTALLY RUIN HIS CHARACTER" (I exaggerate slightly, but only very slightly).
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at 11:23 on 28-06-2011, Arthur B
Everyone should be subscribed to Kate Beaton's RSS feed anyway but today's Hark! A Vagrant is the most hilarious pisstake of comics' attitude to "strong female characters" I've ever seen.
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at 10:45 on 28-06-2011, Andy G
I'm guessing nowadays you can't say "intense relationship" between two men without having homoerotic undertones shoved in there somewhere along the way.


Well when could you?
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at 10:03 on 28-06-2011, Wardog
I quite liked a couple of articles I read recently on Mass Effect - one about race and gender, and the other about queerness.
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