Despite efforts made by recent games, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) gamers still face a long road to equality in the community. To address this, EA yesterday hosted an event at the Ford Foundation to discuss the issues facing gay gamers and how best to solve them. "Full Spectrum" saw EA executives and other industry players talk about the present state of videogames. It's a white, dudely industry," says Kixeye's Caryl Shaw, "but I think that's gonna change."
The roads to change aren't so clear, though. EA highlighted the positive and negative reactions to its BioWare studio's attempts to introduce LGBT aspects into its games. Unlike Mass Effect, where same-sex relationships have generally been received positively, Star Wars MMO The Old Republic only allows "same-sex flirting" on certain planets, leading to claims that EA is "ghettoizing" the LGBT community through segregation. There's also the issue of acceptance from other gamers — an issue indirectly highlighted by a livefeed of the No Homophobes front page being displayed on the big screen at the event.
"With relentless pressure, change is possible."
EA isn't the only publisher introducing LGBT aspects into its games. In Peter Molyneux's Fable series, published by Microsoft, players can wear whatever clothes they choose and start a relationship with almost any NPC (non-playable character), regardless of their sex. NPCs have a simple stat that indicates their openness to same-sex relationships, and such relationships are handled exactly the same as their hetero counterparts. The event highlighted that there are still barriers preventing true equality, many of which are unrelated to gaming. How can the industry continue to instigate change? "With relentless pressure," says Ford Foundation's Luis Ubinas. "Change is possible — attitudes can evolve, and a nation and society can be transformed."