Queer representation in mainstream video gaming is limited, not to mention the genre itself is basically non-existent. Rewind to the early 2000’s when fans of The Sims franchise, could play gay. Remember ‘woohooing’ with your neighbor and childhood friend? Compliment them endlessly; open up the ability to flirt, then voilà! You’re suddenly in a hot tub having a gibberish gay orgasm of sparks and fireworks. But it’s 2014 now, and we are still holding onto that nostalgic sense of virtual genital stimulation.
Considering something like 10% of the population is queer, why not give gaymers the unique experience they have been craving? Enter game developer Handsome Woman who has set sail on the uncharted waters of video gayming. The Ultimate Gay Fighter is a 2D mobile app for iOs, Android and Windows phones where you kick some gay ass. Yeah, it sounds like a homosexual Mortal Kombat, but really its scope is just as binding as the 90’s fighting genre.
Gaymers have been waiting for cutting edge homosexual gaming concepts to come into fruition, in one form or another. But, what has finally been delivered to those in anticipation appears to be the product of a seemingly gay-shaming videogame pitch meeting. What UGF offers is a pool of cliché characters with their own equally distorted attack abilities. Meet Bardwell, the leather clad bear that will power fist you to death; or Sappho Etheridge, the wrench wielding ‘lady lover’ who literally scissors you to oblivion. Even the twink, Timmy Spears proves to be a fierce threat with his razor-adorned Birkin and vicious Chihuahua. WTF? Who’s next? Terry and Steve, the bitch slapping flight attendant tag-team?
So, not only does UGF make gays a bunch of computer-generated creatures of stigma, but it also pits them against each other in a dreary fighting arena. Is this supposed to be empowering? Why not have these queer heroes fight people like, The Ignorant Grandpa or The Closeted Dictator? That way we could fight stereotype vs. stereotype on a level playing field. Don’t get me wrong, the concept is humorous, but the cheap approach is where the beef lies. How can a game represent various queer characters when its roster is limited to only a select few fighters? Note: Only two of these heroes are female. The drunken slut-shamed bisexual and a scissoring lesbian.
The issue doesn’t solely rest on the shoulders of UGF creator, Michael Patrick, but it’s also the larger game developers who are not willing to produce gay incorporative games. Understandably, it’s a lot more feasible to create an independent video game of this caliber versus an enormous RPG with over 50 hours of gameplay. But why choose the fighting genre? It’s one that comes with set parameters and offers such little room for growth and exploration. It’s not expected that these early attempts to create queer-themed videogames be stellar, but their creators should at least seek to empower their own community by representing us as more than just tops, bottoms, dykes and drag queens.
Kudos indie developer for bringing gayming to the masses—really. Except that in their comedic effort, they have permitted others to laugh at us instead of with us. C’mon, Handsome Woman! If you wanted to please the gay family you should have made a mobile revival of Milton Bradley’s “Mall Madness.” Then it’d be gay family fun for everyone!