Each queer individual on the planet might sense it, like a disturbance in The Drive, when the assessment embargo lifted for CD Projekt Pink’s Cyberpunk 2077.
I’m picturing meerkats popping up in unison as I write this. However the fact is that quite a lot of queer players have been ready with bated breath to see how issues have been going to play out.
We knew that it will take about 5 minutes for the “Combine It Up” controversy to stir. And meaning it was solely going to take about 5 minutes for the transphobes and anti-queer players to come back out of the woodworks to declare our collective outrage unmerited and foolish. Days like these are exhausting.
Background: CDPR made the questionable resolution to incorporate an in-game fictional commercial for a fictional beverage. The advert (from Polygon’s screen capture):
Take a more in-depth look:
So what we’ve got right here is an in-game advert for a drink being marketed as a method to “Combine It Up.” It encompasses a feminine-appearing individual with an erect penis-shaped bulge inside their garments. That is problematic. It portrays trans folks as unique and irregular. And it’s hypersexual. It tells individuals who don’t have any day-to-day interplay with trans those who these persons are deviants, intercourse objects, or each.
Naturally, many trans folks and their allies took umbrage to this. However CDPR was undaunted. When Polygon’s Charlie Corridor interviewed the artist liable for creating the commercial, that they had this to say:
Cyberpunk 2077 is a dystopian future the place megacorporations dictate the whole lot. They attempt to, and efficiently, affect folks’s lives. They shove merchandise down their throats. They create these very aggressive ads that use, and abuse, lots of people’s wants and instincts. So, hypersexualization is obvious in all places, and in our advertisements there are lots of examples of hypersexualized girls, hypersexualized males, and hypersexualized folks in between.
That is all to indicate that [much like in our modern world], hypersexualization in ads is simply horrible. It was a acutely aware selection on our finish to indicate that on this world — a world the place you’re a cyberpunk, an individual combating in opposition to firms. That [advertisement] is what you’re combating in opposition to.
That’s a fantastic sentiment, and it would make sense to somebody with out a horse on this race. However, as Polygon’s Stacey Henley recently pointed out:
I don’t purchase it. Whereas a slicing critique of queer commodification may need been a part of the thought’s nucleus, the end result is a commodification itself, objectifying trans folks as creatures of deviance, outlined by their genitals and appropriate just for sexualization or rejection.
And I don’t purchase it both. Henley goes on to level out that CDPR has a long history of being known as out on social media for transphobic “jokes”. Worse, CDPR tripled-down on its questionable habits by making a cis-gender cosplayer portraying “Combine It Up Woman” a finalist in a contest it held. The mannequin then defended her portrayal of “Combine It Up Woman” by stating that cis folks additionally face harassment and violence — be aware: trans persons are significantly more likely to be the sufferer of violence than cis folks.
All folks have their very own struggles. Many cis women and men face acts of harassment and violence each day as properly
— Yugoro (@YugoroForge) October 20, 2020
Right here’s what’s fallacious with that: It’s merely not acceptable for a cis individual to painting a tragically offensive trans character.
And at last (no, I haven’t forgotten to make good on what this text’s headline guarantees): the plot twist right here is that Cyberpunk 2077 is among the many first highly-anticipated AAA video games presupposed to have a queer-friendly character creation system. However let’s simply pump the brakes a second right here as a result of it’s not.
Apparently you’ll be able to designate a masculine or feminine-appearing physique independently of designating them male or feminine, however which voice-actor you hear (female or masculine-sounding) when your character talks is dependent upon whether or not you will have a female or masculine-appearing physique sort. And, you guessed it, that’s problematic.
Henley put it greatest in their article:
The truth that Cyberpunk has fixated on the junk as the last word characteristic of a trans individual, but given no consideration for voice, after which repeatedly joked about customizable genitals in its advertising efforts, exhibits the entire lack of a trans perspective in each the design and within the promoting of the sport.
I was excited for this game. Lastly! A personality creator that provides gamers reasonable selections as an alternative of arbitrarily-limiting social constructs!
As a substitute, it simply seems that somebody merely stated “properly, simply take away the gender references then.” The sport’s performed in first-person. As Henley factors out of their article, meaning you received’t see your character’s junk however you’ll hear their voice.
Okay, sufficient background. You have been promised solutions to among the stupidest questions in gaming and also you’re going to get them. Beginning with: why “queer persons are so mad” about one thing as foolish as a canonical piece of fictitious promoting in a cyberpunk dystopia.
I’ll additionally cowl: why do queer folks need to wreck video video games? Why does each recreation have to have queer folks in it? And why can’t queer folks simply make their very own video games?
As a result of, as many fearful players have predicted, on the price issues are going each single recreation from Mass Impact to Madden, from Metallic Gear to Myst, must be a minimum of 50% queer, proper?
No. These are all silly questions.
Queer folks don’t need to wreck video video games. Once we say we wish illustration, we don’t imply we wish builders to simply go queering up their video games all willy-nilly. We simply need truthful illustration.
Outdoors of “queer video games,” queer illustration in gaming is abysmal. The variety of brazenly queer characters are few and much between and, most of the time, we’re portrayed as promiscuous deviants.
And once we’re given windfall to create queer characters or play our characters as queer, we virtually all the time find yourself with a Mass Impact scenario the place queerness is immediately, and completely tied to romantic and sexual conditions. Even though my Dragon Age character lives in a world the place persons are brazenly racist and devoutly spiritual, for some cause my character’s queerness virtually by no means issues until I’m making an attempt to mattress somebody.
Queer characters are sometimes “quirky” villains, promiscuous allies, and tragic background characters however they’re seldom the dependable hero (or anti-hero, as the sport’s lore may prescribe). And even once we are – there’s a kickass non-binary robotic in Borderlands 3 – we’re nonetheless not regular, FL4K’s an inhuman assemble.
There are exceptions, however finally “thirsty and untrustworthy” are how most queers are portrayed in mainstream video video games.
We don’t need to wreck your video games. We merely need them to higher replicate the realities of our existence. So to reply all of these silly questions in a single sentence:
No, we don’t need to wreck video games or make each recreation queer however whenever you do put us in video games be sure to’re utilizing us in a means that’s according to actuality.
Additionally, there are positively already queer people in Madden. And, because it’s a sports activities recreation the place everyone seems to be just about doing sports activities stuff and not one of the queer males within the recreation are being portrayed as sexy deviants: we’ve got no complaints. See? Simple. (I do, nevertheless, have some complaints about franchise mode, however that’s a rant for a unique article).
The underside line is that we’re not mad a couple of sexy in-game commercial. We’re upset that it’s 2020 and the gaming trade remains to be pretending like transphobia is ok so long as it’s humorous to bigots. And, most of all, we’re pissed off that so many builders and publishers declare they aren’t deliberately making an attempt to be transphobes or homophobes but they’d fairly danger it than merely rent a few of us to offer perspective.
As a substitute of treating the LGBTQ group prefer it’s an issue for online game builders to beat, it’s time these firms acknowledged we’re the answer.