ShockCast Ep. 181 – “Much Gay, Very Controversy”

Compared to other forms of media (books, film, television), video games are relatively young. It has only been a few decades since the world first saw pixels simulate a game of ping pong. Since that time, graphical power and storytelling have improved considerably and now the gaming industry is one of the biggest forms of entertainment on Earth. Despite all of these advances, the medium still hasn’t (metaphorically speaking) hit puberty yet and still has a ways to go before it fully matures.

This was brought to light recently when Bioware announced that its upcoming title, Dragon Age: Inquisition, would feature the company’s first “fully gay” playable character. Some people who are against gays being in video games (and even some gay supporters) took offense to this and a mini-controversy ensued.

Frustrated over the fact that people were discussing the character’s sexual orientation and not his in-game country of origin (the Tevinter Imperium), I decided to channel that anger into something positive. With the help of some gay friends (Emily Lemay, Johnathan Gibbs and Ryan Bates), I wrote an editorial which talked about why many in this industry still get offended when a company creates openly gay characters.

This editorial and the comments it fostered are the basis for this episode’s main topic. Jorge Jimenez and I discuss the actual controversy about Dorian’s sexual orientation and how the video game community as a whole deals with subjects which are controversial. We also get into how pleased we were that this subject sparked a healthy debate in the comment and how it didn’t devolve into the usual name calling which (unfortunately) is what usually happens. While some ignorant things were said, the discourse was mostly pretty civil and we were quite proud of this.

Since this is the fourth of July we also talked about some games which have something meaningful to say about the United States of America. In particular we bring up how games such as the Bioshock, Metal Gear Solid and Grand Theft Auto series show us things about this country which are true even if they present them in a satirical or extreme way.

We also discuss some of our reviews which we posted this week including my review of Battle Princess of Arcadias and Jorge’s review of Spoiler Alert. As always, we run down the games which were released this past week as well as talk about what games we’ve been playing recently. Thanks as always to Shawn Daley for our custom intro and outro tracks.

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July weekend everyone!

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