On “Catering To A Few”

Like pretty much everyone and their brother, I loved playing video and computer games when I was younger. I especially loved games where I could create my own character. Sometimes I spent more time on the character creation screen than anywhere else (this hasn’t changed much, actually — Sims 4? Haven’t played it yet. Sims 4 Create a Sim Demo? I’ve got folders and folders of characters with distinct features and complicated backstories). After scrutinizing my every option, I usually ended up creating a character that looked like me, or at least as close as I could get. It was fun to put myself into a fantasy world with no limitations.

Okay, there were some limitations. There were plenty of games where your only character choice was male. Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, for example, was one of my very favorite games to play. It was an epic adventure. There was a huge, vast world to explore and seemingly endless quests you could complete. But…there was always this wish in the back of my mind that *I* could be the hero of the story.

Fortunately, a lot of things have changed since then. There are more opportunities for the player to be the hero, and for their character to actually look like them. There are more hair color options. More skin color options. There are some games that are so graphically advanced you can basically create your own digital twin.

There’s still one mechanic, though, that remains largely the same.

Why, in worlds where you can be almost anything you want, are you still forced to choose between ‘female’ and ‘male’ on the character selection screen?

Relationships within games aren’t that much more progressive either. More and more games are making gay relationships an option, but it’s still very much a mechanic that’s in the minority. You might be able to look like yourself in the game, but it’s really just a mask. It still feels…off.

Asking for more gender or relationship options in games get responses like this:

“I feel like this is pointless, and catering to the few. You could just ignore it, not to mention I don’t know of a single other game that allows this.”

Game forums are often riddled with people shaking their fists at the sky, complaining about how everything is ‘too PC these days’. People who just want to be themselves are told things like ‘just deal with it’ or ‘can’t we just enjoy a game without bringing politics into it?’

So. What do you do when you’re shouldered out of a community?

You join another one.

I’d like to build a game that caters ENTIRELY to the LGBT community. Changing up the way character creation works, allowing options for relationships, and having as many gay characters as possible are some of my long-term goals, but for now i’m going to start small.

I want to create a community simulation game that uses real stories and experiences from real people.

So if you’re a part of the LGBT community, I’d love to hear your stories. Anything from your silly party anecdotes to how you feel when you meet someone new and you’re not quite sure if you want to come out to them or not.

I want to hear about YOUR communities and your friendships. I want REAL people to shape these characters and to prove that inclusion and diversity isn’t just ‘catering to a few’.

I can keep these stories anonymous, or attach your name to them. Send me an email (christinelawton@verizon.net) or write up whatever you’ve got in this google form. I’m posting snippets of my progress (along with cat pics and work from inspiring creatives) on my tumblr blog and on twitter. Even if you feel you don’t have anything to share, follow along!