Video games often struggle with same sex relationships. They seem to feel that the only way to have same sex relationships is to make them a big, showy event, or to not have them at all.
There are a variety of other video games that have come out recently that feature characters that are fluid in their sexuality and allow the player to ‘project’ a sexuality onto the character. They don’t tell you that you have to play a straight male or a lesbian female – you are whoever you want to be. Sure, not all games can have this level of customization, and many opt to not even have romance or sexuality be touched on at all, but when romance and sex is an option, I enjoy it not being heteronormative.
It’s another benefit on a long list of excellent choices that the player can make about their character, and one that just isn’t made a big deal of. The most recent game I’ve been playing in this genre, of course, is Skyrim. Life is hard and short in Skyrim and sexual orientation is just not something discussed, really. All potential partners are blind to race and gender, and will marry you even if they are Argonian and you’re a Dunmer – because it’s your character, not Bethesda’s, and they wanted you to have that choice.
I, of course, love seeing homosexuality in games in the same manner I love seeing all diversity in games, and it doesn’t need to be made a big deal of in order for it to be impact. On the contrary, just seeing people accept one another without even a comment needed is really a refreshing break from reality where so many people seem to define others by convenient labels.
Though I’ve had little experience with other games, I’ve heard that Dragon Age has a similar systems in play where, while other characters may have a set sexuality, the main character is, in effect, bisexual. You’re allowed to, and encouraged to, choose the sexuality for your character.
This allows for greater inclusion of a wider variety of players who may feel intimidated or disinterested in a game that forces them to play another straight, white male. Again, it’s not to say that all games need this aspect to be good, or fun, or enjoyable, but in a game where customization is so highly prioritized, having these options is a definite way to draw in people who are on the fringe of gaming society and may otherwise not consider the game.
Of course, not every game can have the amazing customization or open world concept of Skyrim – nor should they – but it’s another angle of game development that definitely has room for development and growth. Character customization through choices and deeds, such as the Fable series, is often a fun and interesting type of game to play and often draws in a wide variety of players.
Relationships in games, sexual or otherwise, are still a fresh market for most American companies, one I think they can really do well with if they throw off the shackles of expectations and let their minds run wild on them.