I read an article in some “news” site where they were complaining that the LGBT crowd (I limit my acronym to four letters. Unless your acronym rolls off the tongue, you don’t get longer) don’t get enough representation in Hollywood. One of my longest-running arguments against that sort of thing is that if they want to have more representation so bad, they should make their own stuff. I mean, Stephen Universe came into being because SJWs wanted to make a cartoon. Props to that. However, thinking about films, I will at least acknowledge that it is harder. After all, movies cost millions of dollars. They take a ton of time and resources. And while some filmmakers are able to do amazing things with the budget of a ham sandwich and balls of steel (that’s how one of my favorite movies Monsters got made), I at least will give that making movies is a hell of a venture so them making their own stuff would be more difficult. Which would make me prouder still if some of the SJWs bitching about this decided to get together and make a film of their own. Props.
However, I have no such sympathy for this argument when it comes to video games. None whatsoever. Why? Because in a medium where it has been shown that making quality products can be made with smaller and smaller resources, these people bitching about their representation not being enough are fucking stupid. After all, an Indie darling that was Kickstarter funded and got so big that it competed with AAA games at game awards was made by one guy. One guy! Most of you probably know what I’m talking about – Undertale. That game was made entirely by one extraordinarily gifted individual. One person can make a game so good that it competed against industry juggernauts at the Spike TV game awards. What does that tell me? It tells me that with the right people and enough effort, making truly fantastic games can be done on a shoestring budget with one person.
I can hear the counter-argument – but Lucien, games made by SJWs already have been ridiculed across the board! What games? Games like the cleaning-simulator Sunset? Or maybe you are talking about the garbage fire that was Crypt Keeper Wu’s project Revolution 60? In both of those games cases, the reason people hated them was because they are trash. They sucked. Their mechanics were dull and their respective elements were the absolute worst. Which leads into my next – “what about Gone Home? That game was all about a lesbian girl and people hated it! Doesn’t that show you what people think of LGBT people in video games?!” No. See, the problem with that game was that it was hailed as this revolutionary piece of artwork and gaming prowess by the ENTIRE game’s media. This was a status that the game simply didn’t deserve. I actually happen to like games that are deemed “walking simulators,” but only I don’t call them perfect visionary masterpieces. I will NEVER give a walking simulator as 10 out of 10 unless it transcends the medium in a way that has never been seen before. The lost Silent Hills playable teaser is the closest that the genre has ever come.
So, what is the next counter-argument? I think I hear it – “Making games is hard! Why should we have to go so far out our way to learn this medium if we just want to play it?” Because if you aren’t willing to get off your lazy ass and make something great on your own, then you have no right to complain that nothing is ever made for what you want. The tools to make games are becoming more and more accessible now than ever before. Game engines are out there in the public domain to make your own products. One of my favorite Indie games was made in my home state by a team of eight programmers and a shoestring budget working with local natives. Those people wanted to make a game about Alaskan Native culture and legend. And guess what – they fucking did it! After taking the time to learn and become incorporated, they did what they wanted and made the game they wanted to make. Even made a tiny DLC for it that while it was super duper short, was still a cute story.
A person at one of my favorite Indie gaming companies broke away from them because he wanted to take on a mission that sounds utterly impossible – create a video game which is ENTIRELY a water level. A concept that has so much negative history behind it that the fact that they made it at all is impressive. But it was one of my favorite games of 2016 – ABZU. These products are made by people who want to make the games that they do. They left bigger companies because they had a vision and a drive to make it their own. Are you honestly going to argue that the LGBT community does not? I don’t buy that for a minute! Not for one second do I believe that there aren’t tons of LGBT people who may work for the industry or want to learn it. My sentiment is that I believe if they are wanting to make a game for their demographic, go for it! Make it that best that you can. And I may actually play it too.
But here’s the thing to keep in mind – pandering to a demographic means that your game is going to be niche. That’s just how it is. Unless you have the muscle of companies like Naughty Dog or Quantic Dream at your back, you won’t be able to hit the mainstream if you want a game that is going to be for a demographic you want to see represented more. I say embrace that. Some games do, and they are able to make a brand all their own. Like how Telltale created the episodic point-and-click genre that will never be mainstream, but has its dedicated audience. If you run with what kind of game you want to make and put enough effort and passion into making it a good product, even if you aren’t huge, you’ll still be liked.
Another piece of good advice – don’t read YouTube comments to see what people are going to think of your game when you start releasing trailers and the like for it. YouTube comments is indicative of one thing and one thing only – cancer. It’s a cancer on the Internet, and everyone who has been doing it for long enough knows that. Expect the usual bigoted comments. That’s just par for the course. But here’s the thing – you’ll also get constructive ones. I remember when the first trailer for Life is Strange came out. Everyone was calling it “SJW: The Video Game.” But I wasn’t convinced. I wanted to see what the final product was before I condemned it like that. It’s good that I gave it a chance, because despite the retarded-ass Mass Effect 3 levels of bad ending, it is my favorite game of 2015.
So if you got the grit to try and make your demographic represented in video games more, go for it. But don’t expect the gaming audience to go easy on you if your game sucks. We are a finicky bunch and if your game has flaws we will rip it to pieces. But if it’s good, you will find an audience and can make your message heard. I wish you luck. No joke. Even if you message is “Fuck straight white men,” if you make a product of your own, I support you doing so. I wouldn’t like a product with that message, but at least I will support your right to make it.
In the meantime, for those in the LGBT community crying the blues about gaming not having them represented enough, learn to program with the Unity engine and get to work. There is no excuse for you not to get involved if this is your passion and you want to see it change. Don’t go expecting ANYONE to do it for you.
Until next time, a quote,
“You shouldn’t wait for other people to make special things happen. You make your own memories.” – Heidi Klum