Rainbow Gaming Culture: Representation of Sexuality in Story Based Games

With the evolution of gaming, the implementation of different stories, cultural adaptations, and respect to a variety of individuals has woven its way into mainstream video game culture. Tara McPherson speaks on an identification of Digital Humanities being so white. In her article "Why Are the Digital Humanities So White? or Thinking the Histories of Race and Computation", she points out the split between both fragments of a historical time period where both racial and digital attention were storming:

Not surprisingly, these two fragments typically stand apart in parallel tracks, attracting interest and attention of very different audiences located in the deeply siloed departments that categorize our universities.

But why?
— McPherson

She goes on to suggest that "these two moments are interdependent. In fact, they coconstitue one another, compromising not independent slices of history but instead related lenses into the shifting epistemological registers driving U.S. and global culture in the 1960's and after" (McPherson).

Stemming off of this proposition in retrospect to the racial and digital climate that took place in the 1960's, and beyond, I suggest that the same is happening now in terms of video game culture. However, it is important to note that the way in which she is qualifying her question of why is by looking at the code of operating systems (UNIEX) that were booming alongside multicultural awareness and movements of the 1960's. Reading the code, and looking at its components, as something made by people in a time of socio-political difference, conveys an analogy between two aspects of historical significance. 

As I look at the story elements of indie games, such necessarily the code, I am proposing that a similar interaction is occurring if we were to take the script from these games, of which are heavily laced within story-based, role-playing, and interactive genres, and analyzing what is being said about today's socio-political issues.

Life is Strange (2015)

Life is Strange (2015)

Gone Home (2013)

Gone Home (2013)

The above images are from two separate games that touch on the topic of homosexuality and the hardship of specifically hidden homosexuality.

Life is Strange focuses on the special relationship between two individuals, Chloe and Max, and how Max must come to rescue Chloe or destroy her town. The implications of this game demonstrate the trifle of homosexual acceptance in a harsh society, depicted by her hometown, and that one cannot survive with the other. The player must then choose the ending of the game. By putting the player in the position of choosing one over the other, not only are you faced with a one-against-the-many situation of ethics, but put into a situation of not being accepted by society, admitting your friend is not accepted, and was never meant to live to this point in the game. 

Gone Home, while featuring hidden homosexuality, does so in a first-person exploration game that is propelled by notes written by your sister as you transverse your old childhood home. As you wonder the house, you become aware something is bothering your sister, and you are forced to come to understand the situation your sister experienced while you were away: your sister discovering she identified as a homosexual after she, herself, experienced an intimate relationship with a special friend. The game leads you to believe that your sister could not dwell knowing her own sexuality in a world that pushed against that identity, and was afraid of the consideration of others after discovering herself. The end of the game leads you to the attic, where you are expected to find your sister having committed suicide, as the game lends to this idea through depressing notes, story, and the convoluted way you are led, finally, to the attic, the last part of the house you have not explored and could not explore until you discover the key to open the hatch with your sister's help. However, instead of your sister, you find another note. You find where your sister had been sleeping and hiding. You find that your sister got away and was alive and able to identify with herself. 

Although on the topic of sexuality rather than race, the implications of cultural issues mixing with digital worlds and gaming culture speaks to the integration of race in history, culture, and reality into the Black Humanities. What is occurring now, and the implications of both booming (cultural acceptance and indie game integration of social topics pressed through a story lens), although not in terms of analyzing code but in analyzing script and story content (both necessarily a language) and  is in some ways mirroring the 1960's movements and digital integrations. 

The application of this way of thinking, of looking at digital platforms and script to learn more about awareness and putting those on the outside into the shoes of those experiencing these tribulations, gives indie gaming another venue of experience and purpose that integrates the importance of storytelling elements for purposes outside of video game culture.