There’s not much of an argument to be made that the console and PC gaming industry is heavily invested in the “mainstream” gamer – white males between the ages of 18 and 49 with plenty of disposable income. Most of the games that are produced by major game companies feature more-or-less whitewashed main characters in order to create resonance with their target audience, and the number of protagonists that aren’t gritty, square-jawed gravelly-voiced men of action with a shaved head and of indeterminate Western descent is pretty low.
Wouldn’t it be nice to get something different for once? I’m not talking about the one token black guy who acts as a foil to the painfully Aryan main character. You know, the one with blonde hair and blue eyes who just happens to be the brooding hero that gets all the bitches? The one whose name is synonymous with the color “white?” Yeah, that guy – you know the one. What a total cunt. Fuck that guy. Of course the main bad guy, Mister I’ve-got-a-giant-sword is even whiter, even if his name is Hebrew.
Well for everyone out there who’s tired of playing they typical tough guy, there’s a new game in development that looks like it’s going to subvert the whole genre by focusing on characters that are anything but your typical video game protagonists. It’s called Arkh, and while it’s still very early in the design phases (most of the information available deals with character concepts and information about the game setting and less about gameplay), the core of the project is going to be to create a “3D full-action RPG” created for and by those groups traditionally marginalized by mainstream gaming – pretty much anyone that isn’t a heterosexual white male.
The development team is comprised of people who are not only members of the LGBT community but are also people of color, and are actively creating the game to attract gamers like themselves. However, they’re hoping to also spark the interest of gamers of all stripes by developing a product that will feature things that you just don’t see in the majority of mainstream titles – like gay characters that aren’t hot blue-skinned lesbians.
The idea is a pretty cool one, if it’s developed correctly. I’d like to see the game created in such a way as to make the gender and ethnicity of the characters largely irrelevant and instead just deliver an experience that has both an engaging storyline and enjoyable gameplay. However, there has been a lot of backlash on the Internet against the idea, especially because someone filed a complaint against IndieGoGo, the website that Arkh is using to handle crowdsourced donations for independent projects, on the grounds that the project was discriminatory because Arkh wants to use the funds to help pay their developers who are LGBT and people of color, since these two groups are severely underrepresented in the industry.
I don’t know why people are so upset by the idea of someone besides a straight white guy getting paid. What’s the big fucking deal? It’s like people who make $25,000 a year getting mad at raising the taxes of people who make more than $250,000 a year.
Folks, if you don’t like the project, don’t donate to it, and once the game gets made, don’t buy it or play it. I swear, it’s as bad as those assholes out in Minnesota who say that the suicide rate for gay teens has gone through the roof because they were asking for it – by being gay.
I don’t know if people are scared that the game will become wildly successful and then a deluge of copycat games depicting Mario and Luigi hitting each other in the balls with a hammer while taking turns blowing Yoshi will flood the market or something, but people seem to forget: games are successful because they have widespread, lasting appeal, through a combination of gameplay mechanics, storyline, and presentation. If a game doesn’t have the right mix, it’ll flop – no matter how much you spend on its development.
Arkh will either succeed on its own merits, or not. The fact that you don’t like “dem homos faggin up my vidyagames” doesn’t mean a good goddamn thing. If it’s entertaining, who cares if it’s being made by people of color or people who identify as LGBT?
The videogame sector needs to catch up with the rest of the entertainment industry. Is Neil Patrick Harris any less awesome because he happens to be gay? What about George Takei? He’s not only gay, he’s also Asian. Ellen DeGeneres has her own ride at Epcot Center, for fuck’s sake. And Rosie O’donn–
Okay, you know what? Bad example.