By Stan Rezaee
Is the gaming community ready for an LGBT protagonist? This is the discussion that Lucien Soulban, head writer of Far Cry 3 and one of the most influential openly gay figures in the gaming industry, opened up when he stated that gamers were not ready for such a protagonist.
With all due respect to Soulban, he underestimates how progressive gaming culture has been regarding the depiction of LGBT characters. That statement may appear out of place given how the gaming community has often been stigmatized for being homophobic. Sadly its a shame that the antics of brats who play Call of Duty has been allowed to be a representation of the culture.
When a gamer takes the time to look back at the history of video games, they will realize that the culture has been more progressive about the portrayal of LGBT then Hollywood. Probably unbeknownst to Soulban, there have been games that have given players the option of being an LGBT character.
Most recently Saints Row IV gave players the option of having an LGBT character based on their interactions with a homie. Among the interactive choices, players could engage in sexual relationships with each homie regardless of gender (except for Keith David).
Several years earlier; Mass Effect 3 also allowed players to have the option of having an LGBT character based on their interaction with the game world (regardless of gender). Fallout: New Vegas also gave players same the choice while also encountering a verity of LGBT characters that are in the service of the NCR Military or trying to survive in the Wasteland.
The crowning achievement to the advancement of the depiction of LGBT characters in video games goes to Colonel Yevgeny Volgin in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. He is one of the most significant gay figures in pop-culture who broke from the stereotypical images in-favor of a strong willed character.
Metal Gear Solid has always been very progressive regarding the depiction of LGBT characters by giving them strong traits and a significant role. Gamers have encountered characters like Vamp and Dr. Strangelove, but Colonel Volgan may be the most significant of them all.
In the game; Colonel Volgan was the most powerful military figure in the Soviet Union who also lead the hawkish-faction that is plotting to replace Nikita Khrushchev with Leonid Brezhnev. His actions brought America and the USSR on the brink of war only to be defeated by Snake. However actions lead to the downfall of Khrushchev while setting the stage for the conflict between Big Boss and Major Zero.
Despite claims that he is bisexual, there are a lot characteristic traits that support the notion that he prefers the companionship of men. Most of his sadistic interactions with women have been based on a misogynistic outlook that women are inferior (with The Boss being an exception) and are not worthy of his respect. Hence he prefers to have a proper emotional relationship with a male companion who he can see as an equal (like Major Raikov).
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was released a year before the media was over-hyping the socially progressive significance of Brokeback Mountain (because apparently everyone forgot about Midnight Cowboy). Despite the social changes achieved, Hollywood and has failed to create a strong and powerful character like Colonel Volgan.
Soulban remarks came from a position of misunderstanding his culture and was a disservice to the social progression it has made. However his remarks could only encourage the industry to continue this social progression that has put Hollywood's slow acceptance to shame.