How did you feel about the representation of gay characters in the game?

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Posted by Kierkegaard (582 posts) 10 months, 29 days ago

Poll: How did you feel about the representation of gay characters in the game? (220 votes)

Naughty Dog dealt with human diversity well 60%
Wish they were more explicit than implicit 1%
Felt like a distracting inclusion 3%
Didn't care either way 35%

I really liked how the writers and designers dealt with gay characters in this game. First of all, they included them. Second, there was no stereotyping, only logical, realistic depiction. Third, they were treated with the same potential for tragedy and compassion as the other relationships in the game, neither made grandiose or wacky.

I interpret there to be four major gay characters, with the latter two less directly implied. Bill and his partner (whose name I forgot...) are the first, with Ellie's stealing Bill's magazine making the association obvious. And Marlene and Ellie's mom are, I think, the second. My reading of Marlene's letter to Anna, and Anna's letter to Marlene, has a tone of affection and care that felt more romantic than merely platonic. Where the semen that led to Ellie came from is unclear.

I like that the stories of these characters were as interesting and revealing as the other relationships in the game, while they still retained a certain hidden quality that unfortunately exists in a world doused with homophobia. I wonder if that was necessary, though. Is Bill not saying "my boyfriend" or Marlene not being explicit about Anna a choice they made out of security, or a choice to remain in the closet in front of Joel? In an apocalyptic situation, perhaps the secrets we hold now would become even more important as we look to build societies without endangering ourselves.

Mostly, I want to applaud ND for choosing to include major characters of color and various sexual orientations. That's the real world, dog, and it is the right choice. Still would have liked to play as anyone other than a grizzled old Texan white dude. But I do appreciate the care behind their menagerie of humanity in the game.

#1 Edited by ll_Exile_ll (1582 posts) -

Never even occurred to me that Bill (or Marlene for that matter) was gay. I'd have to play the game again to determine if I agree with your interpretation. If that is in fact the case, it doesn't really make much of a difference one way or the other, but I guess it's better do it subtly than make those character walking stereotypes.

Diversity in video game characters is always good in my eyes.

Online
#2 Posted by Yummylee (21496 posts) -

@ll_exile_ll: Bill is most definitely gay, or at the very least bisexual I suppose. Marlene being in a romantic relationship with Ana is a bit more of a stretch, but it seems plausible enough.

#3 Posted by Rick_Fingers (524 posts) -

This method, as with Cortez in Mass Effect 3, is the way to do it in my opinion.

A person's sexuality should not be some big character defining concept we experience as a part of our introduction to said character (unless the plot is about their sexuality, of course) - it, like race, gender, et al, should just be there because they are completely normal human factors that make up who they are.

Again, unless significant to the plot

#4 Posted by project343 (2817 posts) -

This method, as with Cortez in Mass Effect 3, is the way to do it in my opinion.

A person's sexuality should not be some big character defining concept we experience as a part of our introduction to said character (unless the plot is about their sexuality, of course) - it, like race, gender, et al, should just be there because they are completely normal human factors that make up who they are.

Again, unless significant to the plot

Could not agree more. A person is not a slave to their identity, especially after that identity has set in for a while (people who freshly adopt new identities tend to go a bit overboard expressing that identity while 'finding themselves'), but both of these characters are middle-aged. It's refreshing to not have walking caricatures.

One problem with toning down the identity is to make it irrelevant though: race, gender, sexuality, etc. colour the individual and their experiences in some incredibly meaningful ways.

#5 Posted by TruthTellah (8770 posts) -

I thought they did a fine job with the characters. They were just people who all happened to be placed in a terrible situation. Some were gay, some were bi, and some were straight. Their characterization and little stories were what mattered most.

Online
#6 Posted by JasonR86 (9657 posts) -

The only homosexual character I remember being in the game was the big guy early on. And I only knew he was gay when Ellie joked about the gay-porno magazine she found in his house. It felt needless and kind of eye-rolling. It was the only point in the game that I thought the writing failed.

#7 Posted by TheManWithNoPlan (5405 posts) -

I didn't really have a problem with the way they handled it. Bill wasn't immediately defined by his sexuality. You end up learning it over the course of your time with him. He was just another person trying to survive a horrible scenario, who lost someone he loved. If you search around Bill's safe house you can actually find the Magazine Ellie stole. So when it came up in the cutscene, I already had a frame of reference for it.

Also, it didn't even occur to me that Marlene mightv'e been romantically involved with ellie's mom. That makes total sense.

#8 Posted by Flappy (2195 posts) -

I raised an eyebrow and asked myself, "There were gay people in The Last of Us?" when I read the topic title, so I believe that's a good sign. I remember spotting the magazine earlier in the chapter/area, so it wasn't like I was surprised when Ellie pointed out that the pages were stuck together. Bill was a cool dude that just happened to like dudes; more power to 'im.

It's been a while since I last played through the story, but from what I can remember, I remember vaguely picking up on what you're referring to with Marlene and Ellie's mother.

#9 Edited by tsutohiro (364 posts) -

@jasonr86 said:

The only homosexual character I remember being in the game was the big guy early on. And I only knew he was gay when Ellie joked about the gay-porno magazine she found in his house. It felt needless and kind of eye-rolling. It was the only point in the game that I thought the writing failed.

Pretty much this.

#10 Edited by Hunter5024 (5612 posts) -

Before I clicked on this thread I forgot there even was one, it took me reading your post to remember Bill was gay. Which is probably the best way to handle it. If I don't remember it then it wasn't forced or out of place.

I've heard the theories about Marlene and Anna being lesbians, but I don't really think there's enough evidence to support it one way or the other.

#11 Posted by jimmyfenix (3852 posts) -

Great Writing , Great Characters , Great Game.

#12 Edited by CptBedlam (4449 posts) -

@jimmyfenix said:

Great Writing , Great Characters , Great Game.

Yup, finished it yesterday. What a fantastic piece of entertainment.

And it didn't even occur to that some of the characters were gay which is exactly how it should be handled. Truly great writing.

#13 Posted by Dagbiker (6964 posts) -

I find in games like this, where the centerpiece is not romance or sexual attraction. I like ambiguity. It's weird that the relationships were so developed but the later mechanics aren't.

#14 Posted by yoshisaur (2701 posts) -

It never really struck me as important throughout the story, so that is where I think lies it's effectiveness. I'm tired of sexuality being shoehorned into a story, whether it be heterosexual, or homosexual. Unless it's a dating sim, it doesn't really matter what they do in the shadows of the night, so why do we try to glorify it? Naughty Dog did great this time as the characters were just characters, and if you paid a little more attention, you figured they were gay. Other than that, they were just people, in a universe, trying to survive.

Sounds good to me!

#15 Posted by notdavid (837 posts) -

Bill being gay never occurred to me, but now that you mention it, it makes his story tragic as fuck.

#16 Posted by SunBroZak (1078 posts) -

I think unless you're doing some story arc akin to Kanji's in P4, which dealt with the fears associated with sexuality, I much prefer The Last of Us's way of dealing with them. It's quiet, and doesn't make a big fuss about it. That's how it should be. Like others have said: they're human beings, not homosexual caricatures.

#17 Posted by Kierkegaard (582 posts) -

I think what the story does is make the player question their assumptions. I assumed Bill was straight because I have a false idea of normalcy in humanity. So, the game reminding me that there is far more human reality than my brain jumped to was an important moment, however minor in the overall story.

Failed seems harsh. I thought they turned that from an obvious joke when Ellie was completely aware of sexuality and mocking Joel, not actually innocently unaware of what that magazine could be. Was a good moment of her breaking his expectations of a child. Plus, for those players unsure of Bill's story, it gave the far more tragic undertones of him losing a lover rather than just a friend.

This method, as with Cortez in Mass Effect 3, is the way to do it in my opinion.

A person's sexuality should not be some big character defining concept we experience as a part of our introduction to said character (unless the plot is about their sexuality, of course) - it, like race, gender, et al, should just be there because they are completely normal human factors that make up who they are.

Again, unless significant to the plot

That's a great summary. Thank you! Sam and his brother (I keep forgetting character names!) are black, and some underlying implications of how their race could affect their relationship exist, but that identity does not define their characters.

Does the history of hiding sexuality make this different though? Would having gay characters hide less of themselves show progression in society 20 years after a mass infection? Honestly not sure myself.

#18 Posted by RonGalaxy (3101 posts) -

The last of us is one of the 10 games better than brothers: a tale of two sons

#19 Posted by Bocam (3713 posts) -

The last of us is one of the 10 games better than brothers: a tale of two sons

Brad/Jeff won't play it so it doesn't count

#20 Posted by Castiel (2572 posts) -

Well I'm just glad they didn't make a big fuss about it but just portrayed people as people. When there is a gay character in most other games the developers tend to go out of their way to show he or she is gay and they either do it just for laughs or they do it by saying: "LOOK GUYS WE GOT A GAY IN OUR GAME AREN'T WE JUST COOL AND HIP!"

Luckily Naughty Dog did neither of the above.

#21 Posted by Castiel (2572 posts) -

I don't buy your Marlene and Anna theory though.

#22 Edited by Milkman (16647 posts) -

The fact that I didn't even think about any of those characters being gay when I played the game says about all that needs to be said about it.

#23 Posted by Little_Socrates (5675 posts) -

I think unless you're doing some story arc akin to Kanji's in P4, which dealt with the fears associated with sexuality, I much prefer The Last of Us's way of dealing with them. It's quiet, and doesn't make a big fuss about it. That's how it should be. Like others have said: they're human beings, not homosexual caricatures.

Perfectly analogues my feelings on the subject. To say that the story "shouldn't be about sexuality" is too much, as exploration of sexuality is something that needs to happen a lot more in games. But not every story with gay characters needs to be a story about sexuality.

#24 Edited by csl316 (8421 posts) -

Didn't even notice. Just like in real life, I don't even care or treat anyone differently.

So I guess they did it well?

#25 Edited by Hunter5024 (5612 posts) -

#26 Posted by ShadowConqueror (3050 posts) -

There are gay characters in the game? Seems like a stretch. At most Bill could be gay, but he seems more lonely than anything. I just don't think any characters were meant to be considered gay or anything like that. Not that there's anything wrong with it.

#27 Edited by AgnosticJesus (544 posts) -

The gays caused the infection, right?

#28 Posted by handlas (2675 posts) -

To say it's a failure in the writing in regards to Ellie's magazine joke that outs Bill as being gay... Well I guess you didn't have much stock in the Bill character. I felt it humanized him. He kept going on about his "partner." You, the player, just assume it's his survival buddy getting by. When you realize afterwards that "partner" meant a lot more than you originally thought then it makes the scene before that a lot more powerful.

They did a great job with that character and the little hints about it so clearly some of u we're not paying attention if U just thought it was a tasteless joke.

#29 Posted by Rick_Fingers (524 posts) -

@project343: those things inform a person, but don't define them.

Even someone wrapped up in a cause based around an aspect of themselves (rights activist, for example) is still a rights activist due to a number of other factors in their lives.

#30 Posted by Oldirtybearon (4706 posts) -
#31 Posted by ervonymous (1297 posts) -

My gaydar went off the moment Bill said "partner", if memory serves he thought on his choice of words for a second while bitterly lecturing Joel about relationships. In the end you see what you want to see. Ellie's magazine joke blew it though.

ND wants you to think gay people are insecure petty porn addicts.

#32 Edited by lusence (345 posts) -

look out putin is coming!!! hide your rainbows! russia hates gays. seriously though it was pretty brief and not really much of a topic. it was pretty surprising really, that someone came up with that idea. man just makes you think of what other ideas they had on the back burner... get the gimp...

#33 Edited by Klei (1768 posts) -

You know what, guys? It never occurred to me that any of those characters were gay. Why? Because I simply don't care. They can be bi, straight or gay, I don't care at all. It's not even something I notice since, to me, it is just so normal. I have many gay, lesbian and bi friends, to the point that to me, it's perfectly normal. Also, if Bill was gay, why didn't he live with his partner? To me, he's not gay. He just likes to wank off to guys. That doesn't make you entirely gay, you can be bi.

#34 Edited by Grissefar (2842 posts) -

The gays caused the infection, right?

I don't know why man, but something about referring to gay people as "the gays" is really funny.

#35 Posted by Patman99 (1578 posts) -

It never even registered with me that Bill was gay. I didn't even pay that close of attention to the stolen magazine and just thought it was a generic dirty magazine. If he was gay then I suppose they went about it the right way.

In the end, I don't really care if a character is gay or not. So long as the character is slightly believable, I will like them or at least feel their contribution to the story is necessary. I liked Bill just because he seemed like a totally believable hermit in the apocalypse. He was just tired of everyone's shit. Recall Bill's last words to Joel in the scene he leaves with the truck (Something like: "We square? Okay, get the fuck out of my town").

#36 Edited by DarthOrange (3858 posts) -

Did some people really miss Bill being gay? There was more to it then just the magazines.

I wonder what else you people missed.

#37 Edited by erhard (399 posts) -

At least it wasn't laughable like in Borderlands 2.

#38 Posted by CodeFire (183 posts) -

@notdavid said:

Bill being gay never occurred to me, but now that you mention it, it makes his story tragic as fuck.

It was tragic before, but only more so now. Guess I didn't notice.

#39 Posted by kerse (2111 posts) -

There were gay characters in that game? I figured the magazine thing was a joke Ellie was making. If he is then they did a decent job not making a huge deal about it like other games do.

#40 Posted by GoldROCK (47 posts) -

@darthorange: some people don't look at every little crevice of other people's lives or actions to see why they act certain ways. Actually, most people don't. I hope not anyway. I'd rather look at people as individuals without being called racist or homophobic if possible. But, America 2013..

#41 Posted by Darji (5294 posts) -

The gays caused the infection, right?

Actually the first concept was that only women caused and could be effected by it. But killing only women in such a game would cause a ton of trouble and outcry in today's world^^

#42 Edited by Hunter5024 (5612 posts) -

@klei said:

You know what, guys? It never occurred to me that any of those characters were gay. Why? Because I simply don't care. They can be bi, straight or gay, I don't care at all. It's not even something I notice since, to me, it is just so normal. I have many gay, lesbian and bi friends, to the point that to me, it's perfectly normal.

Yeah man. I have so many black friends that I can't even tell they're black, because it's just so normal to me that I don't even notice unless someone points it out.

#43 Posted by Fredchuckdave (5353 posts) -

Didn't notice apart from the Donner party guys, I guess that's the whole point.

#44 Posted by ToTheNines (710 posts) -

I think they handled it great, because I never noticed lol.

#45 Posted by Brendan (7753 posts) -

@hunter5024: You only notice if you really care, which makes you sort of prejudice in weird way wait what the fuck.

#46 Posted by DarthOrange (3858 posts) -

@goldrock said:

@darthorange: some people don't look at every little crevice of other people's lives or actions to see why they act certain ways. Actually, most people don't. I hope not anyway. I'd rather look at people as individuals without being called racist or homophobic if possible. But, America 2013..

????

There is nothing bad about him being gay. The game does spell it out to you that Bill's boyfriend left him and then gets bit and commits suicide. There are various notes around that clearly spell this out, especially his final suicide note. Calling a gay person gay isn't homophobic, calm down. And what's up with that America 2013? What makes you think everyone on this site is American?

Anyway, welcome to the Giant Bomb forums!

#47 Posted by Tarsier (1057 posts) -

why is it that when a developer puts a gay character or a female character in a game they are immediately responsible for representing gays or females or blacks or whatever as a whole.. can we just accept these characters for who they are and not act like there is some great sin being committed against your being.

#48 Posted by Cold_Wolven (2216 posts) -

Well that all went over my head when I was playing the game so if it isn't obvious perhaps that's a sign of good writing.

#49 Posted by GoldROCK (47 posts) -

@darthorange: I took your post to mean "if you missed the subtleties of him being gay, then you're either dense or hate gay people". And because that's the logic of liberal America and the media agenda. That's what it all meant really. Didn't mean to come off in a jerk manner, but probably did. And thanks!

#50 Posted by bybeach (4788 posts) -

If it wasn't pushed in your face, they did it right. I have not played this game, but I understand it is downright nasty about surviving. That is what the story as I hear it swings on. You probably didn't let anyone know what they did not need to know, fuck 'em. Or that's what they might do to you in the pure negative sense.

I should really play this game, the more I hear, the more I like.

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