This past week, the writer of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon Lucien Soulban told Ubisoft’s Uniblog that it could be a while before we see a homosexual main protagonist in a triple-A title due to the fear that it would hurt sales.
It’s a pressing issue with many of the big sellers involving burly white male main characters and whilst games such as Mass Effect and Skyrim give you various options for gender and sexuality, there isn’t enough diversity in video games.
The positive to take from the last few years is that it looks like some video games have been willing to take the risk on something a little different. Two of the best games of the past year, Bioshock Infinite and The Last Of Us, both featured prominent female characters that were playable for a section of the game (that being the upcoming second piece of DLC in Infinite’s case).
Both were excellent characters, not defined by being strong women like some creators feel you need but being strong, real characters that were believable as people. They weren’t just plot points and in many ways served as the central character in the narrative even though the player controlled the male lead. In the case of Ellie in The Last Of Us, she does have a moment in the Left Behind DLC that suggest that she is gay is another positive step, especially as it didn’t feel like it was shoe-horned in to tick some boxes.
There’s another to add to those two who is now the fully playable character of the franchise in Clementine and Telltale’s Walking Dead series. She was the emotional centre of the first season and seeing her develop into the character you play as in the second season has been a superb piece of storytelling on a growing young girl. It makes you feel how vulnerable she is but also how her relationship with Lee has made her stronger and helped her adapt to the dangerous world she lives in.
It’s not the first time that Telltale have gone against the grain, having chosen Lee as the main protagonist of the first season, an African American. Last year we also saw Franklin in GTA V, a series that isn’t too unfamiliar with going outside the norm with characters such as CJ and Huang Lee in previous iterations.
Soulban did mention in his piece that it might take a “bait-and-switch” approach similar to the reveal of Samus as a woman at the end of Metroid or a left-field pitch from one of the more riskier developers like Rockstar, Valve, Telltale or Naughty Dog but it seems like the scene is throwing up new ideas.
Are we likely to get a homosexual central character in the near future? It’s unlikely but a strong team will fill that void at some point. And when they do, let’s hope they don’t make a Call of Duty “you can play as a woman online!” song and dance about it, either.