Using the Moose Test in my own backyard.
On my journey to become an expert on LGBT+ video game narratives, I applied the Moose Test to the games I own. As someone who actively seeks out games with queer representation I believe my collection provides great practice while I hone the test further.
Here’s the Moose Test as it currently stands:
1. The game must contain a character that is identifiably LGBT+.
2. The character must not solely be defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity.
3. They must be tied into the plot in such a way that removal would be significant.
4. Their role must not have a negative impact toward LGBT+ perception.
5. They must have a role in the game’s dialogue.
6. That dialogue must advance the plot in some way.
Using the Moose Test:
I judged 93 individual titles. I own more games, but these are the ones I had on my shelf or immediately on my computer. Of the games, 17 passed my test (about 18%) and 76 failed (about 82%).
I further separated those that failed into F+(those that failed some, but not all criteria), F(not failing any criteria), and F-(those that are actively harmful to the community).
The results of my findings are below, but here are a few examples of games with the Moose Test to help explain the implications.
Slightly more than 18 percent of my games passed the test, which isn’t surprising considering that I actively seek games with valid LGBT+ representation. However, what caught my attention most was the 5 percent of games that were actively harmful.
Assassin’s Creed was the most interesting to analyze. It gets an F- because the only identifiably LGBT+ character is a target of assassination. Other than the fact that the character is a jerk, his only other real “drawback” is that he exhibits homosexual tendencies. I understand that the game is a historical fiction role-playing game, where the player acts as an assassin of a religious organization. But the only LGBT+ character is the villain for no good reason other than historical context. The protagonist often questions the organization he works for; in order for this game to at least attempt to educate the players, all it would have taken was a couple simple dialogue boxes where the protagonist questions the authority.
In Persona 5, the only LGBT+ characters are two gay men in the red light district that prey upon young men. Persona 5 is more shocking in its portrayal considering that the fourth game in the Persona series has a relatively positive portrayal of the community.
While those two were surprisingly negative, one that took me by (a happy) surprise is the latest iteration of the Super Smash Bros. franchise. This game has little to no dialogue as it’s an all-out brawl between many characters, but Nintendo chose to include three openly LGBT+ characters as part of the roster. Now that I know the test works in most aspects, I applied the test again to identify which developers and publishers are regularly making games that pass or fail.
Assassin’s Creed — F-
a. The only LGBT+ character is a target of assassination and is ostracized by his community for being “an abomination.”
2. Persona 5 — F-
a. The only LGBT+ references are harmful to the portrayal of the community as a whole.
b. Framed gay men in red light district/beach as sexual predators.
3. Animal Crossing: New Leaf — F-
a. In the American game, there is confirmed LGBT+ erasure; Gracie is a male fashion designer in the japanese game, but a woman in the US.
4. Tomodachi Life — F-
a. Heteronormative behaviors are repeatedly impressed upon the player.
b. This gets and F- because it is actively harmful to the LGBT+ population to say the only way to play is to be straight.
5. Harvest Moon — F-
a. Heteronormative tendencies are forced throughout the game.
6. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild — F+
a. They attempted to have representation but was not plot relevant.
7/8. Pokémon X/Y — F+
a. Inclusion of a transgender woman who transitioned from the all-male black belt sprite to a female only beauty sprite.
9. Oblivion — F+
a. LGBT+ characters exist but not well-known or playable
10. Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn — F+
a. There is a confirmed lesbian character and she is playable, but she is not important to the story.
11. Super Smash Bros. Brawl — F
12. Super Smash Bros. Melee — F
13. Super Smash Bros. — F
14. Overwatch — Pass
15. Destiny — F
16. Animal Crossing — F
17. Animal Crossing: Wild World — F
18. Animal Crossing: City Folk — F
19. Alice Madness Returns — F
20. Final Fantasy X — F
21. Final Fantasy Type-0 — F
22. The Wolf Among Us — F
23/24/25. Pokémon Yellow/Red/Blue — F
26/27/28. Pokémon Gold/Silver/Crystal — F
29/30/31. Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald — F
32/33/34. Pokémon Pearl/Diamond/Platinum — F
35/36/37/38. Pokémon Black/White/Black2/White2 — F
39/40. Pokémon Sun/Moon — F
41. Pokémon Colosseum — F
42. Pokémon Ranger — F
43. Pokkén Wii U — F
44. Spyro the Dragon — F
45. Golden Sun — F
46. Dragon Quest X — F
47. Age of Empires — F
48. Kingdom Hearts — F
49. Kingdom Hearts II — F
50. Mario Party — F
51. Mario 64 — F
52. Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World — F
53. Prince of Persia — F
54. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time — F
55. Portal 2 — F
56. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance — F
57. Fire Emblem: 2003 — F
58. Fire Emblem Awakening — F
59. Skies of Arcadia — F
60. Avatar the Last Airbender — F
61. Gauntlet Dark Legacy — F
62. Disgaea 5 — F
63. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle — F
64. Diablo II — F
65. Diablo III — F
66. Pinstripe — F
67. Banjo Kazooie — F
68. Donkey Kong 64 — F
69. Perfect Dark — F
70. Super Mario 64 — F
71. Ex Comm — F
72. Bomber Man 64 — F
73. Gauntlet Legends — F
74. Star Wars KotOR II — F
75. No Man’s Sky — F
76. Minecraft — F
77. Mass Effect — Pass
78. Mass Effect 2 — Pass
79. Mass Effect 3 — Pass
80. Star Wars KotOR — Pass
81. Night in the Woods — Pass
82. Dream Daddy — Pass
83. Fire Emblem Fates — Pass
84. Fable — Pass
85. Fable II — Pass
86. Tales of Symphonia — Pass
87. Dragon Age: Inquisition — Pass
88. Dragon Age: Origins — Pass
89. Dragon Age II — Pass
90. Skyrim — F+
91. Destiny 2 — Pass
92. Super Smash Bros. Wii U — Pass
93. Fallout 4 — Pass
5/93 — Fail Minus — 5.38% (5%)
67/93 — Fail — 72.04% (72%)
4/93 — Fail Plus — 4.3% (4%)
— — — —
76/93 — Fail Total — 81.72% (82%)
17/93 — Pass — 18.28% (18%)