Ever since a plucky, squat plumber named Mario saved the helpless princess from the clutches of a crazed ape in Donkey Kong back in 1981, heterosexuality — and to a large extent, lame female characters — have been the rule in the world of video games.
Despite recent successes in marketing games to “non-traditional demographics,” the multi-billion dollar industry still caters largely to a young male audience with androcentric power fantasies straight out of a women’s studies instructor’s worst nightmares.
If you’ve played many modern games, you’ll know that female characters tend to come in one of two bland varieties: well-endowed amazons in stilettos and helpless, hyper feminine princesses who need to be rescued by the hero. There are exceptions to the rule (Samus from the Metroid series, Faith from Mirror’s Edge, Nariko from Heavenly Sword), but it’s a pretty shallow pool.
Metroid‘s Samus Aran
Nariko from Heavenly Sword (left) and Faith from Mirror’s Edge
Unfortunately, the pickings become even slimmer when searching for good lesbian characters.
“It would be great to think that there will be more gay/lesbian gaming content in games at some stage soon, but there’s just little happening with that from the developers,” lamented LesbianGamers.com co-founder Tracy Whitelaw in a recent email interview.
“They think about mass market and numbers and ultimately that means that they go for the mainstream approach,” she explained. “There are certainly a few characters appearing here and there that at least gives hope for the future, but gaming seems to be one of the last bastions of entertainment that is desperately trying to hold onto the heterosexual norm as long as it can.”
So what’s a girl to do? Give up playing games until developers pull their character archetypes out of the 1950s? No way — Whitelaw and her partner Angela Simpson instead saw the value in building a community for queer women who game.
“We think it’s absolutely fundamental to provide a safe, lesbian-oriented space for gay girl gamers,” Whitelaw stated. “We realized before starting LesbianGamers.com that there simply were no lesbian gaming sites around and that’s a real shame as lesbians deserve to have a place to create a community with other lesbian gamers.”
A fanart “tryste” between game characters Samus and Zelda
Offering everything from serious analysis of female representation in the game world to fantasy features depicting game characters in dramatic Sapphic trysts, Lesbiangamers.com is like a safe lesbian haven in a sea of testosterone. A thriving community of queer and queer-friendly gamers exists on the site, a fact that the LG ladies attribute to their all-inclusive approach.