Gays in Games (Enchanted Arms Xbox 360)

Posted: August 31, 2006 in Uncategorized

Yesterday I picked up Enchanted Arms for the Xbox 360. I had read a little pre-release hype about one of the main characters being flamboyantly gay, but I assumed the role was minor and all the talk was exaggerated. Boy was I wrong. A number of forum posters mentioned they wouldn’t buy the game because of this, while others were quick to defend the game and the characters. So I had to see it for myself. Now I’ve been a fan of various Japanese console RPGs for many many years, so this wasn’t a stretch for me to buy regardless, but I must admit I was very curious about the “Makoto” character.

(Side note: the game itself is pretty decent, my impressions are posted over on octopusoverlords. It looks like a fairly standard, conventional console RPG with a few bells and whistles. Not the “next generation” adventure touted on the box, but certainly a nice first effort for the 360.)

So anyway, the producers chose to go with a hideously over the top style for the voiceover on Makoto. This after they dress him up in a bizarre effeminate outfit, complete with bare midriff and lots of eyeshadow. It’s rather jarring and uncomfortable to watch and listen to, but after a while you kind of get used to it. (Note the manual describes him as a transvestite, which I found rather laughable.) They further insist on every other comment he makes (at the outset) being something about how much he loves and worships one of the other male characters. Apparently he makes a deluxe lunch for his buddy every day, and calls himself his “disciple of love.” The whole thing left me rather mystified as to what exactly the writers were aiming for. Is it supposed to simply be funny? Mean spirited? Pathetic? It’s rather confusing. I don’t know whether to cheer because there’s a gay character featured prominently in a mainstream game, or be offended that the portrayal is so stereotypical. As I reflect upon some older RPGs I’ve played, I’m thinking he fills the role of “obnoxious comic relief” often reserved for some bizarre talking animal/monster or sometimes for a young snooty female who later gets put in her place.

Anyway, I’m very curious to see where they take his storyline, and I’ll reserve final judgment until I see more. It just gets you thinking about our society, and how every time you think gay people have become that much more integrated into the culture (particularly watching TV and movies), something like this comes along to make you realize how much further we have to go.

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