MIT GAMBIT Game Labs Explores LGBT Characters in 'A Closed World'

September 22, 2011 -

New research efforts at MIT explore how games handle gay, bisexual and transgender characters and storylines... badly. Inspired by the lack of serious LGBT characters in mainstream video games, Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab has developed a game called “A Closed World,” which hopes to answer straightforward questions such as "How can video games present LGBT content and what are the challenges that a development team faces when trying to include content about someone different from the perceived norm?"

In an attempt to answer these questions, several teams worked for eight weeks during GAMBIT's summer program as producers, designers, programmers, musicians and artists on some experimental games. Todd Harper, the GAMBIT product owner of “A Closed World,” led a team of nine interns from Singapore, MIT, the Rhode Island School of Design and the Berklee College of Music.

“This project addresses a very basic idea about identity and representation in mass media. Think about the first time you heard someone famous was different in the same way as you, or saw someone different in the same way on TV or in a movie. It gave you a little rush of good feeling,” Harper says. “This is the way I sold the project to the interns. Cultural content shapes our reality.”

A Closed World is a console-style RPG that lets players take control of a young resident of a village where (on the outskirts) a forest exists that legend claims "is a place of no return." Because of this the forest is forbidden and what is on the other side of it is unknown. The hero's beloved, tired of the oppressive attitude of the villagers, decides to go there and the protagonist eventually follows after.

Harper notes that LGBT content is usually incidental and never drives the story, which is one of the core reasons for making A Closed World.

"Rather than having it be sidelined or there for a one-off joke, games can and should be doing something explorative and expressive on the topic. We started with my having mapped out the narrative of the game ahead of time. But in eight weeks we'd done something completely different.”

You can check out A Closed World here.

Source: MIT


Comments

Re: MIT GAMBIT Game Labs Explores LGBT Characters in 'A ...

Why exactly is the grouping always LGBT? Transsexualism has nothing to do with homosexuality, but it just seems like a convenient grouping due to the rare nature of transsexuals. If people are concerned over the portrayal of transsexual characters then they need to make sure that disabled are always included (due to the more common occurrence of that minority in society).

Having said that Saint's Row 2 actually had a transsexual as the main character (although this was on a technicality).

Re: MIT GAMBIT Game Labs Explores LGBT Characters in 'A ...

I think the issue here is that the group doing this is immediately assuming that LGBT "content" would revolve around their likes and dislikes, which may or may not conform to "the norm". I'm sure a substantial amount of gay people find it rather offensive when others around them come to the assessment that most gay people fit the gay stereotype. Most times, the only thing that sets them apart is who they cuddle up with when they sleep.

Re: MIT GAMBIT Game Labs Explores LGBT Characters in 'A ...

Perhaps in terms of personality, but I think it can be argued that gays in america encounter a special class of issues and problems that strait people do not, and that is a domain that be explored.

Though personally I think a lot could be done just be integrating GBLT characters as just regular people with plotlines that do not focus on what makes them differnt.   Ideally both types of plotlines would be in play in gaming.

Re: MIT GAMBIT Game Labs Explores LGBT Characters in 'A ...

Games have a hard time portraying everybody other than caucasian/Asian-looking men. Games have a hard time doing relationships overall romance or not.

I think Mass Effect did a pretty good job. Shepherd and Liara is some kind of alternative lifestyle depending on how you classify Liara if you were a woman and you went after her. It also wasn't forced which was kind of nice.

-----------------------------------------

Managing Editor at TheBestGameSiteEver.com

Re: MIT GAMBIT Game Labs Explores LGBT Characters in 'A ...

Developers have a hard time portraying ethnic characters because they are mainly Asian/Caucasian men.

Developers have a hard time doing relationships because they've never been laid.

Re: MIT GAMBIT Game Labs Explores LGBT Characters in 'A ...

I guess you must find it sad, to never be able to play a moron like yourself in video games as well...

Oh wait...

 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Poll

Who's responsible for crappy Netflix performance on Verizon?:

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
Papa MidnightRacism and Misogny are heavily prevalent in the gaming and online arena. Getting people to actually admit that, however...07/24/2014 - 11:42am
Papa MidnightThat very thing is somthing that anyone who has been subjected to racial-based targeting online could actually state that they've experienced.07/24/2014 - 11:41am
Papa MidnightPerfect example: "I have yet to talk to a man who has had to call a police officer due to a stalker, only to be told nothing can be done until they are physically assaulted."07/24/2014 - 11:40am
Papa MidnightNot that said communities are mutually exclusive. Even the very first comment on that last article equates women in the gaming industry with being the n-word. Despicable, aetestable, and (sadly enough) this is not an uncommon presence in either community.07/24/2014 - 11:35am
Papa MidnightI only wish someone would lead a similar investigation of the sheer level of irrational racially motivated hate and insults that are perpetuated in the online and gaming community.07/24/2014 - 11:33am
Papa Midnighthttp://www.polygon.com/2014/7/22/5926193/women-gaming-harassment07/24/2014 - 11:31am
SleakerAhh.. I have a feeling it's because they wanted to put up their own games on their own store.07/24/2014 - 10:56am
MaskedPixelanteRemember in 2012 when they decided to include new releases? That's when the whole service fell apart for me.07/24/2014 - 10:47am
Sleaker@MP - sold out? I thought they were always like this.07/24/2014 - 10:46am
E. Zachary KnightHowever, there are still a good number of games that have viable linux versions already and are currently in their games library that are not yet in the Linux store.07/24/2014 - 10:40am
E. Zachary KnightI for one am glad to see them finally support Linux. It has been a long time coming.07/24/2014 - 10:39am
MaskedPixelanteFrankly, I think GOG is on a quality downswing since they sold out.07/24/2014 - 10:22am
SleakerMy respect for them can't get any lower at this point, but at least they cut the bullshit I called them on back when they said it wasn't plausible to release on linux.07/24/2014 - 8:59am
SleakerGoG.com is retconning their previous 'We can't do linux support statements': http://www.gog.com/news/gogcom_now_supports_linux07/24/2014 - 8:58am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.nerdist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/WW_Cv36.jpg The new Wonder Woman design, created specifically to shut people up about Gal Gadot being too skinny to play Wonder Woman.07/24/2014 - 8:12am
InfophileVery nice article, Zen. I definitely agree that many devs won't support something unless everyone has it. So many other examples from the past, even as far back as the SNES and accessories for it like the mouse or superscope.07/24/2014 - 5:40am
ZenWrote up a story about people wanting Nintendo to drop the GamePad...and why I think it needs to stop. :) http://bit.ly/1raIQvv Let me know what you think!07/23/2014 - 10:53pm
MaskedPixelanteHey, so remember that "redeem your Sims 2 key on Origin for a free copy of the all-in-one edition" promotion? Well, it didn't work, so to make up for it, just go into your Origin profile and redeem the product key "I-LOVE-THE-SIMS" for your free Sims 2.07/23/2014 - 9:12pm
Andrew EisenThe Steam controller may have changed again. http://www.vg247.com/2014/07/23/steam-controller-valve/07/23/2014 - 6:46pm
james_fudgePlease use the comments section for bitching about specific articles :) We do read them, after all.07/23/2014 - 10:52am
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician