Leading US gay news source, The Washington Blade, has just published an interesting news story on the first major survey of gay gamers, which is being conducted by social scientist, Jason Rockwood, under the guidance of Professor Dmitri Williams at the University of Illinois.
SPOnG did a quick survey this morning of a number of fellow UK games journalists and UK games marketing execs, to ascertain what people thought about gaymers, gay characters in games and the feeling about providing specific gay-themed content in games.
Few people deigned to even comment, which in itself says something about the homophobic culture which many gaymers feel to be rampant within the industry (as does the snide strapline above - Ed!?).
One marketing exec, who asked to remain nameless, agreed to fill out the survey and afterwards told SPOnG:
"It's clear to me, as a straight male working in the games industry in the UK, that the gaming community and the games industry is dominated by a 'jock-like' overly competitive masculine culture, so I hope that this survey shows up some good results and some good feedback from a good range of gay and straight gamers, which might hopefully lead to more progressive attitudes amongst gamers and game developers and publishers regarding gay game characters and so on."
The survey contains 91 quick multiple-choice questions and takes around ten to fifteen minutes to complete - so if you are a gaymer or have opinions on issues of sexual identity in gaming then you might want to give it a go. You'll also remain anonymous, so none of your more homophobic gaming or industry friends will be able to post "X's gay shame" news on their 'hilarious' blogs.
Rockwood claims that the survey is the first one of its kind: "A lot of surveys in academia today, they are refinements of many, many years of survey work that have occurred...Just being the first one out there looking for these answers, there are a lot of questions we want to know and we are asking questions that we don't have the answers to."
Rockwood wants the results of the survey to provide game developers and publishers clear and detailed information about gaymers, enabling them to appeal to more players of different genders and sexual orientations.
He also hopes that the survey might help break down barriers of prejudice within the mainstream gay culture and media, which he says is, "not supportive of video games... So you have these people stuck in the middle who have this double-edged prejudice. I'm hoping this survey would shed some light on how or why people go through such a process."
Rockwood's mentor, Professor Williams, added: "Computer and electronic games are obviously quite popular, but, despite what you hear from politicians and pundits, are surprisingly understudied... Surveys like this one will help us understand better who plays games, what they play, why they play, and what they get out of the experience. With data in hand, we can move from assumptions, guesswork and stereotypes and into facts and understanding."
SPOnG has been trying to think of any gaming characters who have been openly gay, but all we seem to be able to come up with are joke Village People-a-like stereotypes such as Ash from Streets of Rage 3 (pictured right) a politically incorrect stereotype of a homosexual who minces around dressed up in dodgy clothes and cries when you beat him up.
Sega of America demanded that Ash, who also had a female 'Death Scream', a very feminine run, a stupid little 'Laugh' taunt and tons of female mannerisms, be removed from western versions of the game.
"Zangief, from the Street Fighter series also looks a bit gay, rocking that classic Eastern European strongman look that the gays love," added another SPOnG staffer, who has since been forced to register on Gaydar and tell us all about his gay sexploits and offers of hook-ups in West Yorkshire's finest cottaging venues.
Gaymers and more open minded types, who wish the games industry would stop collectively acting like a retarded thirteen year old boy on such matters can check out the survey at www.gaymersurvey.org