Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Apex Legends - 3/6/2019 - My Beautiful Gay Boi!

Another day, another adventure in King's Canyon.

Many people have already spoken about this at length, but Apex Legends really shows how the game industry has been lagging behind in terms of minority representations. In theory, it shouldn't be a big deal that there are two women of color, one openly gay character, and one non-binary character as part of the playable cast.

And yet, for the people who are part of these minority populations, this is a big deal because it is so rare for them to be able to play someone who looks like them, or relates to them in some way. I know someone who was moved to tears by the idea that two black women were just in the cast without any special attention brought to them. This is why I like to call out Gibraltar as "my beautiful gay boi" and Bloodhound as "my beautiful enby". It excites me to know that these populations are being represented.

Rather than wait for some period of time to bring up these details, Respawn instead chose to be unfront about them from the very start. There was a recent Polygon article that talked about the amount of homophobia in the Overwatch community. With the recent reveal that Soldier 76 was a gay man, he's become a target for the group's vitriol. Since they waited so long to introduce queerness into the lore, and because the lore is so divorced from the actual gameplay, the disconnect between the message of inclusivity and the discriminatory player base had time to fester and grow. Furthermore, while I like that Overwatch is becoming more queer, it's hard to ignore the "Dumbledore is gay" nature of it.

I am not so naive as to believe that just making these details apparent from the outset will be enough, on its own, to prevent a similar hostility from taking route in Apex. However, it's a good start to building up that kind of community. If taken care of, and cultivated, the team at Respawn has a real chance to learn from Overwatch's mistakes. They've got a real gem on their hands, and I'd hate to see it ruined by a specter of toxicity.

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