00:00:00

Giant Bomb Presents

Giant Bomb Presents: The Bumpy Road Towards Games for Everyone

Designer Samantha Kalman was on a PAX panel called "Queers in Gaming: Gamer vs. Gaymer," in which the panelists tried to explore the challenges of making more inclusionary games. Before that panel, we chatted about the current state of the dialogue.

Giant Bomb Presents is giantbomb.com's home for interviews, previews, and more.

Sep. 4 2013

Posted by: Patrick

262 Comments

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BeachThunder

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[insert ignorant comment here]

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Swifdemon

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Edited By Swifdemon

Wow, that panel title pisses me off enough that I'm not even going to bother listening.

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patrickklepek

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Edited By patrickklepek

@swifdemon said:

Wow, that panel title pisses me off enough that I'm not even going to bother listening.

I would hope that you would, at least, listen a little beyond that. It would be appreciated.

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MrMazz

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Edited By MrMazz

sounds like an interesting listen.

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alwaysbebombing

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Edited By alwaysbebombing

Thanks for this Patrick, it was very relevant to me. I think this is the first time I've actually heard anything about the LGBT community in games/games design. You did us well, Patrick.

Your crack about the database entry gender thing was funny.

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lesaboteur

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@swifdemon: I think you should take a look inside yourself and really question why such a benign title pisses you off. You might find something.

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Swifdemon

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@patrickklepek: Nnnnaaahhh, "gaymer" joins webinar and netizen among other awful terms that alert me to things not worth listening to. It has nothing to do with homosexuals.

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lesaboteur

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@swifdemon: The reason why this term exists is because there is a large group of queer gamers that do not feel welcome within gamer culture as there are large parts of it that are inherently toxic. This is not on the level of webinar or netizen, this is not business speak.

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lasergreen

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Edited By lasergreen

Awesome. Can't wait to listen.

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dorkymohr

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Edited By dorkymohr

@swifdemon: As long as we're ignoring large swaths of discussion because of one word I suggest everyone start ignoring the trigger word of "swifdemon."

Edit : Really nice interview, Patrick.

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Tonetta777

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Edited By Tonetta777

@swifdemon said:

@patrickklepek: Nnnnaaahhh, "gaymer" joins webinar and netizen among other awful terms that alert me to things not worth listening to. It has nothing to do with homosexuals.

Dismissing the content and character of somebody's ideas based solely off the name of the article they publish them under would suggest otherwise. A rose by any other name would make you just as big of an asshole.

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Swifdemon

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@lesaboteur: I don't want to start a discourse on cultures, I just hate portmanteaus.

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mrangryface

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Let's not talk at the person who refuses to listen as if he'll suddenly bother to listen to us.

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Tonetta777

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@lesaboteur: I don't want to start a discourse on cultures, I just hate portmanteaus.

Enough to publicly broadcast your ignorance, apparently. You don't get to take potshots at people's identity and then cut and run when they explain why you're wrong.

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Swifdemon

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@tonetta777: Uh, alright, I don't know when I took any potshots but alright. I guess I can't have any opinion on shitty nonwords without inciting the wrath of the Internet.

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CaLe

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I thought I might be gay when I was younger because my knees looked weird. I was afraid that I was going to bend with age as around here a 'bent' person was a gay person. Turns out that being gay means you find members of your own sex to be so attractive that you wanna kiss them on the lips. I've never felt the urge to do this, but I did go bald. I hope one day games can speak to the struggles a balding person goes through. It's not easy being bald.

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patrick

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Wow, that panel title pisses me off enough that I'm not even going to bother listening.

Good thing you left a comment though, otherwise we wouldn't have known how irrelevant your future comments in this section would be.

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ChrisTaran

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Edited By ChrisTaran

So is this about homogenizing gaming and pushing the opinions of a minority on the majority?

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mrangryface

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Edited By mrangryface

@christaran I don't think it's about that so much as it is about making MORE games for this demographic. The strongest path towards accurate representation of women and gays in gaming is to create games that do it right- rather than try and force games that are clearly a product of their time to be something different.

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patrickklepek

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Edited By patrickklepek

So is this about homogenizing gaming and pushing the opinions of a minority on the majority?

I don't think that's true at all. Look at Dragon Age 2, for example. All it did was add more options, options that did not take away from what was possible before, and it instantly became more inclusive. What's the downside?

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movac

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@christaran: I can think of one way you can find out what it's about.

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deactivated-5ac77379ae44c

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RoyCampbell

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@christaran said:

So is this about homogenizing gaming and pushing the opinions of a minority on the majority?

I don't think that's true at all. Look at Dragon Age 2, for example. All it did was add more options, options that did not take away from what was possible before, and it instantly became more inclusive. What's the downside?

The downside being that Dragon Age 2 is awful.

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patrickklepek

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Edited By patrickklepek
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Swifdemon

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@patrickklepek: Dunno. I know a lot of people who also happened to like those of the same sex that found the flighty, fairly shameless way gays and lesbians were written in DA2 to be vastly unappealing and a turn off. Granted, it seems most of the LGBT community appreciated the sentiment, but I think the quality is definitely something to consider, if only considering anecdotal evidence. I mean, I don't remember any particular uproar over Zevran in the first game.

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alwaysbebombing

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@patrickklepek Why are people being so disrespectful here? It's very disappointing.

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mrfluke

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im going to be honest with you here patrick, i really want nothing to do with this stuff and after the last worth reading i thought i was done reading your stuff for good cause i was sick of the declarative complaining tone that came off to me in your writings in relation to the topic.,

but it was honestly the title that got me to check this out and i was glad that i did.

see if this was your pitch from the beginning, to just want to include more people into gaming or to add more options to cater to the other groups, you would get more people to listen.

i know you have no intention of stopping (which is fine), but i do hope you approach this topic more in this fashion.

im rambling my words here, but having the message or rather the at a glance tone be more about getting more groups into gaming or included into gaming reads as much more positive and much more approachable,

vs complaining about aspects of a game or complaining about how im growing up and i want more adult games or secretly wanting this aspect to not be in a game anymore.

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RoyCampbell

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@oburian said:

You're not helping yourself here, Patrick.

The quality of Dragon Age 2 is sort of irrelevant, no? It's about Dragon Age 2 being a AAA game, at least by its development definition.

So a game gets a free pass regardless of quality for its progressive and inclusionary ideals? Just because it fits right into your political mold? Good stuff. It's good to know you're not here to play games for what they are-- games.

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mrangryface

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Edited By mrangryface

I don't care what anyone says- Dragon Age II is quality just for the hilarious conclusion to the Mom story arc

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saddlebrown

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Edited By saddlebrown

@mrfluke said:

im going to be honest with you here patrick, i really want nothing to do with this stuff and after the last worth reading i thought i was done reading your stuff for good cause i was sick of the declarative complaining tone that came off to me in your writings in relation to the topic.,

but it was honestly the title that got me to check this out and i was glad that i did.

see if this was your pitch from the beginning, to just want to include more people into gaming or to add more options to cater to the other groups, you would get more people to listen.

i know you have no intention of stopping (which is fine), but i do hope you approach this topic more in this fashion.

im rambling my words here, but having the message or rather the at a glance tone be more about getting more groups into gaming or included into gaming reads as much more positive and much more approachable,

vs complaining about aspects of a game or complaining about how im growing up and i want more adult games or secretly wanting this aspect to not be in a game anymore.

100% agree. I don't usually read the Worth Reading stuff so I'm not referring to Patrick specifically, but the tone that most people use with issues like this is really counterproductive.

Don't be negative all the time because it automatically makes people shut down, be defensive, and stop listening. Be positive. Point out good things that games do and encourage more of it. Be reasonable. Pick your battles. Get people on your side. Don't preach at people and put ultimatums out there that amount to "you're with us or against us." Always be willing to entertain questions and dig deeper into a topic. If someone asks "why is this offensive?" then be ready to explain why; don't just point-blank say it is and then assume they're a misogynistic, homophobic pig for even having to ask.

So yeah, I totally agree with you. I wasn't really planning on listening to this one, but now I will.

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saddlebrown

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Edited By saddlebrown

@roycampbell said:

@patrickklepek said:

@oburian said:

You're not helping yourself here, Patrick.

The quality of Dragon Age 2 is sort of irrelevant, no? It's about Dragon Age 2 being a AAA game, at least by its development definition.

So a game gets a free pass regardless of quality for its progressive and inclusionary ideals? Just because it fits right into your political mold? Good stuff. It's good to know you're not here to play games for what they are-- games.

Nah, you miss the point. He was saying that even if Dragon Age 2 was a shit game or a fantastic game, it doesn't matter here. What matters is that they did some progressive things. (I've never played it so I don't know.)

It's like if someone said, "Well, Saints Row IV as a game feels lazy as fuck because you can tell it was supposed to be DLC for The Third, but I really appreciate how progressive they are with the character creator and how everybody treats the protagonist exactly the same, regardless of whether it's a straight white male, a straight white female, or a gay green female with Nolan North's voice."

EDIT: To be clear, I haven't played Saints Row IV yet either. I'm excited to. Just made that complaint up for the purposes of the argument.

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Goldanas

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Edited By Goldanas

She references Dragon Age as a moment where there was a great outcry against gays, but she's mistaken. There was an outcry against how you could unintentionally start romancing the character when you were just trying to be nice.

This is actually the biggest problem I have: A mislabeling of everything. Everyone is so ready to misconstrue everything in games (and all mediums really) to better twist it to their own agenda. Dragon Age and Mass Effect have proven that you can have outright homosexuality in AAA games and it will largely be acceptable. It would be ignorant to suggest that there aren't people out there who disapprove of homosexuality, but to say that the vast majority of people hate a game because it includes gays is infinitely more ignorant.

What's more, it's even worse when they use the inclusion of progressive content as a shield against other relevant arguments to then incorrectly shame the one who posited it. It's whenever someone says, "One of the things I don't like in Dragon Age 2 is the romance options " and the response is, "So you hate LGBT people?" that really defines the real issue in games right now. Hell, you can see it happening in this thread with everyone erroneously attacking @swifdemon.

You're right that this dialogue is toxic, and it's because it comes from both sides.

There are a lot of problems I have with this interview, more than I think is reasonable to type out or discuss on a video games forum. But I hate that anyone would label this as "important". The broader discussion is important, but this pathetic interview does nothing to further it. In the grand scheme of things this is a waste of time, and I would have been better off not listening to it misrepresent some aspects of video games and then recycle the ideas of others (attacking heteronormative institutions, non-binary fluid gender, etc.).

When she decides to make a game with a Demon's Souls slider for masculinity and femininity, or whatever she wants to do, then go ahead and let me know because that might actually have some importance (unless it's just more recycling).

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koolaid

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I thought this was going to be about social games.

This is interesting too.

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kevino13

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From the title, I thought this was gonna be about the Ouya.

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Tonetta777

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@Goldanas said:

"It's whenever someone says, "One of the things I don't like Dragon Age 2 is the romance options " and the response is, "So you hate LGBT people?" that really defines the real issue in games right now. Hell, you can see it happening in this thread with everyone erroneously attacking @swifdemon."

It isn't erroneously attacking somebody to rebuke them for chiming into a conversation just to say they're ignoring the conversation.

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Goldanas

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@tonetta777: Yes it is. One aspect of the conversation is titles. He doesn't like the title. You called him ignorant because of this. You also called him wrong. Both of those are erroneous claims.

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Swifdemon

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Edited By Swifdemon

@tonetta777: It's worth saying. Don't underestimate face-value, people very often judge books by their covers. It needs to be said: sometimes a title is so extreme a turnoff that people will outright not listen. This happens in venues which have absolutely nothing to do with sexuality regularly. That's all there is to it. It gives the impression of silliness and foolishness to the extent that it's really off-putting. I don't feel I need to listen to or respect someone that gives that impression, and with any luck that sentiment will be recognized so that less inane terminology might be employed in the future.

/blatant homophobia

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alibson

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"Queers in Gaming: Gamer vs. Gaymer"

Let's make inclusive games for people who decided to intentionally exclude themselves from the gamers.

That's like making TV shows for the Amish.

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mrangryface

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I DO get tired of the knee-jerk. I'm afraid to provide my more middle-road uncertain still deciding opinions but I don't want to get lumped in with THE ENEMY cause that's what happens and that's hardly fair either.

That said, this is a super charged subject coming from a group of people that deal with discrimination that I don't, so it's probably on me to be understanding.

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TheManWithNoPlan

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Oh boy.

You know what? I'm glad at the very least that this medium has progressed to a point as to create conversations about these different kinds of subjects.

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Edited By Arabes

@swifdemon: @lesaboteur: @tonetta777: @dorkymohr:

So none of ye see the funny side of giving someone shit for having an opinion that you don't like on the topic of being more inclusive? Seems pretty fucking funny to me :D Swifdemon, it is a fucking dumb title. On a more serious note though, I worry about people who whose main form of self identity relates so much to their sexuality. We should treat people like people and not worry about where they want to put their sexual organs.

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@roycampbell: since when has it been impossible to appreciate a game for it's narrative elements and ideals separately from it's gameplay? the Dragon Age games are pretty impossible for me to enjoy but I'm still glad it includes gay content. Similarly, I think Borderlands 2 is a really fun game but I can't stand anything about the things it does in terms of characters and story. It's real simple.

like, really, he's not saying it's the best game of all time just because there's gay stuff in it, and he's not forgiving it for having gameplay that was widely negatively received. I'm really confused at how you came to this conclusion that patrick doesn't care about playing games just because he praised one generally disliked game for its inclusivity.

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saddlebrown

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@goldanas said:

What's more, it's even worse when they use the inclusion of progressive content as a shield against other relevant arguments to then incorrectly shame the one who posited it. It's whenever someone says, "One of the things I don't like in Dragon Age 2 is the romance options " and the response is, "So you hate LGBT people?" that really defines the real issue in games right now.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. That is my biggest problem with how this discussion goes today. Holy shit. You perfectly summed it up.

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@goldanas: Thank you for sharing your thoughts, as all perspectives on this discussion are important IMO. And if you're taking the time to participate, I'm glad my interview could have led to that. I just want to clear up a couple of points.

1) My only agenda is to make awesome games for people of all shapes, sizes, colors, genders, and orientations.

2) I didn't intend to claim that a vast majority of people hated DA2 because of the because of the romance options. I think it's safe to say that a very vocal group did take issue with the male NPC making an advance on the player. People who jump the gun and assume that those vocal people hate LGBT people is a misdirected assumption, and does not move the conversation forward. The tenuous part is that some people really enjoyed the very thing that was vocally disliked. So how do we please everybody?

3) I think it's too bad that you would claim my interview with Patrick was "unimportant" and "pathetic" without really explaining why, because that halts the conversation. And I disagree with you that it does nothing to further the discussion in the industry. We are a gigantic community of people, very diverse people, and everybody deserves to participate. Some ideas might seem recycled because are shared thoughts and experiences. Isn't that what cultures and sub-cultures are? Collections of people who share common thoughts and experiences? The thoughts that seem recycled to you (and others) are actually windows into the mind, life, and experiences of someone of a different culture. Certainly my own experiences are different from many of the readers on Giant Bomb, but I am still a regular reader/viewer/subscriber and so I have something in common with everybody here!

So when we talk about gamer vs gaymer (to be fair, I actually don't care for the term "gaymer"), what I hope we can accomplish through discussion is how to create and consume gaming experiences that we all enjoy. The majority of discussion at our panel was about how NOT be exclusionary, but how to include lots of people instead.

Whether you agree or disagree with my points, thank you for taking the time to read. I hope you will reconsider listening to the interview because it IS important. And the game I'm making might be something that you're really interested in!

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LiquidPenguins

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Anyone else see the irony of holding this panel at PAX? It's a convention Mike uses as a platform to insult as many LGBT allies as possible.

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RoyCampbell

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@buwchbach: Firstly, since you've not experienced the content of Dragon Age 2, don't speak for its "gay content". I found that its portrayals of relationships and homosexuality rivaled the typical qualities of a tumblr fanfiction. I'm not one to be offended, but the writing and representations offended me from a creative standpoint. It's even past the point of being able to enjoy it for being bad.

And for a game to get by just because it meets a progressive checklist and fails under every other aspect is alarming to me. It doesn't even meet that progressive checklist the way it should, either. The depictions are insulting.

My last comment was in reference to Patrick liking a game that coincides with his agenda-- not for its gameplay or other elements. His claim of the quality of DAII being irrelevant struck a nerve. As long as a game gets by on pandering, everything's a-ok.

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iragequit

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Edited By iragequit

I've seen the GayGamers tag floating around TF2 for a long time now. Probably natural that a fashion simulator like TF2 would have an acccepting playerbase. (Jokes people)