Gaming

VIDEO GAY-MER | What are some great gay couples in video games?

They are few and far between, but I've managed to narrow down a few of my favorites.

In the world of queer gaming, we have to latch onto the canon queer couples that we're given.

We don't see a lot of them, and when we do, we love them with all of our hearts. Admittedly, half of the time one of them dies or they're barely there, but even then they matter a little bit. They matter much more than the queerbait-y, kind-of-sort-of-barely couples that we're given (coughcough Life is Strange coughcough).

It's hard to pick some, because you have the think about exactly what counts as "canon." Like, Life is Strange is not canon - it's hinted at and never followed through. Sorry, but that ending where you pick Chloe doesn't count. So, in the end, these are the main criteria for this small list:

1. They have to be a romance between two out characters.

2. Neither can die - because killing queer characters for pain is annoying. Queer people die/have died enough in real life.

3. If they are optional - then they have to be a romance-able option that affects your character.

4. If they are side characters, then they need to be a major driving force in the game.

And with that, here are a few of my favorite couples.

So, what did you think of my list? Did you agree? Did you not agree? Well, if you did, wonderful! If not, tell me why in the comments. Or, better yet, tell me what you think your list would be! I'd like to hear more from you guys.

Keep Reading Show less
Gaming

VIDEO GAY-MER | Creating An Experience All Your Own

In a world where queer people don't have experiences of our own, we have to create new ones.

Games are an escape.

Games are an escape from your struggles, whether they be personal struggles or the terrors of the world, they allow us to take a step away and focus on a reality that isn't our own. And as a queer kid growing up in the Southern United States, I retreated to video games for most of my young life. And I've spoken in length in many other articles about how, despite my love for video games, the lack queerness has soured me to them a lot of the time.

Instead of giving you yet another example of the lack of representation present in games, I'm going to talk about a very specific aspect of queer gaming culture. It revolves around a very specific part to a lot of games across many genres: Character creation. We've all done it - whether you've created a Mii or played through Dark Souls III, you've most likely created a character of your very own. Often times, these characters have little to no real back story and are largely designed to be a catalyst for the player.

So, why is this important to queer gamers?

Because these characters can be whatever we queer gamers want them to be. A major, more recent example is that of the Sole Survivor of Fallout 4. After the game came out, I saw a large amount of different players across the internet posting their OCs. They gave them very specific storylines, and a lot of them were queer. They had entire lives not spoken about in the base game. Some of them three the base game out entirely.

The same thing happens across many different games from Dragon Age: Inquisition to Terraria to Sims (on a grander scale). We have to work harder to build a world in which we can escape to - so we project ourselves onto characters that we are allowed to create. For instance, my characters are always good natured gay men, who become heroes in a world that previously didn't accept them.

In Fallout 4, this was the reason I was drawn to the Minutemen and the Railroad. Unlike the Institute and the Brotherhood, the other factions were underdogs. The Minutemen, a militia of the Commonwealth dedicated to the people, starts out the game barely existing and disgraced after what happened in a town called Quincy. The Railroad, a band of ragtag fighters seeking to free the much feared Synths (synthetic humans) from their tyrannical creators.

My character fit so well into these groups, because I wanted to create a queer character that fought for people who got shat on all the time. It wasn't what the game intended, obviously, but one of the very few good things about Fallout 4 was that it didn't matter. You could make your character do ALMOST whatever you wanted (so long as it stayed in their very specific factions, but that's neither here nor there).

Not only could I, a queer person, be a hero to an entire group - but to an entire society. In this game, my character makes history and changes the world for the better. This cathartic experience is one of the reasons I still play Fallout 4 to this day. I do the same thing with Dragon Age: Inquisition, Mass Effect, etc. There's something so powerful about being able to look at this queer character that you, a queer person, created and saying, "You're a hero to all the people in this world."

That level of freedom is so important to a queer audience, because we're so used to hearing straight people tell us that things have to be a certain way. That's why more linear games can often leave a queer gamer bored or annoyed, because we're forced to sit through this character living out another straight fantasy that we always see. Does this mean we hate these games? No, of course not. I love Final Fantasy X as much as the next guy, but it's romance bores me to tears.

When I escape, I don't want to escape into a straight person's fantasy romance or a straight man's power fantasy. If game developers won't give me my own characters, then let me play the games where I can create my own fantasy. Let me make the Inquisitor a gay Elf; Let the Sole Survivor be a queer secret-Synth who has a harem with literally every romanceable companion because they all fell in love along the way; Let ALL OF MY SIMS GET GAY MARRIED!

Sure, it's not the same as giving me real characters, but it's something to keep me going until I get to play next great queer game. So, I guess I'll take it.

Keep Reading Show less
Gaming

VIDEO GAY-MER | Can you believe Fallout was this ahead of the game?

How many of your faves can say that they had gay marriage in their franchise since '98?

Oh Fallout...

I have so many opinions about you - and not all of them are totally positive. Hell, some of them are just downright negative. But even I have to admit that you are an iconic franchise. You took the gaming world by storm, introduced the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. (strength, perception, endurance, charisma, agility, and luck) system, and provided a much needed escape from the fantastical fantasy worlds of other RPGs of the time (okay, Wasteland did it first). Your characters have always been interesting, your lore has always been a delightful mixture of zany and serious - you're a great franchise.

I've already spoken in length about my experience with Fallout. New Vegas played a very big part in how I feel about queerness in gaming. It shaped a lot of my very staunch opinions about the subject. After all, here was a reasonably large title that included some mostly-decent queer stuff. To this day, I can't find one gay gamer who wasn't pleasantly surprised to the see bespectacled Arcade Gannon was not only gay, but definitely interested. Not to mention every other character.

Look at him, isn't he adorable?

Giphy

And it doesn't stop there!

A lot of the major Fallout titles have had some form of queer characters peppered throughout (except for Fallout 3, unless there's someone I missed).

Probably the best example is in Fallout 2, I only just purchased the game in my recent Steam Winter Sale haul - and getting through it has been a challenge. I usually don't enjoy too many isometric games, mostly due to my relative newness with them. But, Patricia Hernandez talks in length about the game's importance to her and her sexual identity. It's beautifully written, and honestly, it's the same thing I felt whenever I played New Vegas.

The newness of the queer option gave me that same sense of rebellion - the only difference being that I had already accepted that I was gay by the time I played New Vegas. My awakening was definitely more of a "I want more characters like this," and less of a "Okay, so this is what sexuality is."

Although, the more I think about it, the more I feel almost cheated out of an experience. In Fallout 2, you were forced in a marriage, and had to actively work to keep your wife alive. It added a level of stakes to the game, and if you cared to keep your spouse alive, made the game that much harder. Bethesda games are as Hernandez puts it, "by comparison, the modern Fallouts feel absurdly easy, like they start you off as a powerful character and the rest of the game is an adventure in becoming super duper overpowered." Which isn't a lie, if you aren't specifically trying to play the game on maximum difficulty - the games are easy.

In Fallout 3, all companions can die, but they aren't totally important and as far as I know, none of them are queer. In New Vegas, companions can't die, and you even get the option to travel with the queer companions! There is no actual romance, though, so that's also a downside. Fallout 4 is the first Fallout game that allows you to seduce and have an overarching romance with not just one, but every single human companion in the game! That's almost perfect! Your faves could never!

That is a huge deal, and made that awful game worth playing. The developers put care into developing their characters, and gave you actual bonuses when you seduced them. I'll never forget the feeling of accomplishment and joy when I finally managed to become an item with the most beautiful boy in the Wasteland: Preston Garvey (yes, he's annoying, I know, but he's also adorable). I was a man, playing as a male character who was now in a committed relationship with another male character. And I could do this with all of the other main characters too! With no penalty!! I mean, who else gave him your wife's old ring? Was that just me?

Of course, this bothered me a little bit.

I would have loved to have more narrative stakes. I wanted to see more of an incentive to be committed to your partner. Like Dragon Age: Inquisition, once you make the commitment to a character - that's it! They also have characters with specific sexualities and interests. It adds a certain realism to the game that Fallout unfortunately lacks.

Still, despite its problems, Fallout has made leaps and bounds for queer people in their games. I can say negative things about them all I want, but I'd be a fool to try and deny it. It's been changing the game since 1998, and not many other franchises can say that. It's taken some steps forward and a couple of steps back (after all, Fallout 4 never gave me my gay wedding). I have hopes for the next game in the installment, and I hope I'm not disappointed.

Keep Reading Show less
Gaming

ROLE PLAYGROUND | Why is Fallout 4 one of Bethesda's worst games to date?

Fallout 4 was an intense disappointment and I still haven't recovered!

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS!

I want to take you back to 2015-era me, I am visiting my family over the summer and we are watching Bethesda's E3 conference. I have heard rumblings of a Fallout sequel forever, and I was ecstatic! Fallout 3 had been my favorite game for a long time, and it's spin-off, New Vegas, soared to the top of my list as one of the best games I'd ever played. They had their problems, sure, they all did! But that didn't matter - the content was there, and that's what counted. I saw the trailer in June, and I was hungry for more!

I watched the whole panel, and at the end, I couldn't wait. This game would be a huge leap forward in graphics. The gameplay looked smoother, and there was an interesting new setting! What could possibly go wrong.

Oh, how naive I was.

THE GAME

So, for those of you who live under a rock, Fallout 4 is the latest installment in Bethesda's revamped Fallout Series. The series is adapted from Black Isle Studio's isometric RPG series of the same name.

In Fallout 4, you take control of the Sole Survivor of the cryogenic testing Vault 111. During your time in the vault, you witness a mysterious man steal your son, Shaun, and kill your wife/husband. After a mechanical failure releases you from cryosleep, you journey out into the Wasteland to find said stolen son. As you move through Post War Boston, you realize the world has changed beyond imagining and you'll not only have to fight for your son - but your own survival.

THE GOOD

An idyllic view of Post War BostonBethesda

When I finally got my copy that Christmas, I must've logged about four days worth of gameplay during my entire Christmas vacation. I remember my first steps into the beautifully crafted Post War Boston. Its vibrancy enamored me. Instead of the dusty Capital Wasteland and the deserts of the Mojave, we got treated to one of the more living places in the series. Boston had trees and grass - sure, it wasn't Oasis levels, but it was definitely a step forward.

The gameplay was also a pleasant surprise, the gunplay was not perfect but solid enough so I did not have to rely on the VATS system (which I was grateful for). I could actually aim and hit people with my guns - a huge step in the right direction for a first person shooter-RPG. Plus, the gameplay was just fun. It's part of the reason I still play the game to this day - mechanically it mostly works really well. Even if everything else gets annoying, I can at least travel around and mindlessly kill things.

Fighting a Deathclaw in Power ArmorBethesda

Another thing that works surprisingly well is the cast of companions they have built. As I traveled through Boston, I made sure to recruit everyone that I could - and they were all well worth the trouble. Each companion had real characterization and their own strengths. Some of them you could eventually quest for, and even fall in love with. My favorites were Preston, who I also have a lot of problems with, and Paladin Danse, who had one of the more compelling characters arcs in the whole game.

There are a lot of great things in this game - unfortunately... well, they are all lost in everything else that's wrong. And there's a lot wrong. So, so much.

THE BAD

I don't understand what happened with this game compared to the others - I don't know if the writers were pressed for time or maybe they had a lot of pressure to get the game out, but it feels so unfinished? It definitely wasn't the complete experience that Fallout 3 and New Vegas managed to be. And, I think a lot of this rests in the main character and their relationship with their son being the main crux of the story.

In the previous titles, the games were basically huge chases. In Fallout 3, you were trying to find your father, and travelled across the Capital Wasteland to do it. In New Vegas, you wanted revenge against person who shot you and information about why you were shot in the first place. Fallout 4 was no different, but there was an odd lack of emotion in this title - due to the fact that you find out the son you've been questing for this whole time is actually the leader of the big bad evil organization that literally everybody hates.

Shaun, literally the worst son ever. (images.eurogamer.net)

It's a weird twist - or I should say a bad twist. You spend this whole game finding the man who took your kid (who is kept alive through synthetic implants), and questing to find out what happened to him, only to find out that you've been asleep a lot longer than you thought. And your kid is an old man with literally no real attachment to you. I mean, you could argue that he does - but not really.

This and the whole Synth storyline is also so familiar. Like, I've seen it a million times - and it's not familiar in a "oh, what an homage" kind of way, just like a "oh this is really lazy" kind of way.

The twist also robs your character of any real closure. The person that you meet, the Shaun of the Institute, is not your kid (well, he is, but not emotionally). Meeting him was definitely a surprise, but not a good one. At least in Fallout 3, you got to meet your father and (mostly) grow up with him, and you share a moment with him before he dies - and that moment makes his death justifiably sad. With Shaun and your wife, you were given a rather short opening - at least compared to Fallout 3 - and the death of the wife and the theft of your son was hard to watch, but it's never really resolved.

You and your wife - before her death and the Vault. (Bethesda)

You find out that Shaun, as he is, holds no real attachment to you or your dead wife. He was raised by the Institute and he is responsible for a lot of the horrible things they've done. Some people say that morally, the things he's done could be misconstrued as good - but he had people killed and replaced with synthetic copies - so that logic is out. Had there been more of an effort made to make Shaun care more about seeing his biological mother/father, it would have worked more. Had there been more of an effort at fine tuning Shaun's motives for doing what he did, other than 'they're not civilized enough,' it would have worked more. Shaun just didn't work.

And when that character is literally the entire reason the Sole Survivor does anything, not working is not an option.

This ruined a lot of the game for me, because the story felt half-baked. The world had been built so much up to that point - and I wanted to do so much more, but it didn't happen.

And then you top that off with the tedious settlement construction/protection mechanic, and you've got a recipe for disaster. Seriously, making settlements could have been so much fun, if they weren't so obnoxious to maintain. Like, if I'm deep, deep, deep into a side quest, I don't want to interrupt that to go and fight a few ghouls for you, Settler! Plus, the missions to get each settlement were so repetitive, to the point where I dreaded visiting Preston - who was literally a Settlement Machine. To this day, he still comes to me with new places or new problems for each Settlement - as if I didn't side with the Minutemen and recruit a crap ton of people.

Preston, who is both bae and the most annoying character ever :/ (Bethesda)

Then you've got the character models, which definitely didn't match the rest of the game's graphical mastery. I mean, they were fine for a Bethesda game, but honestly, it seems like Bethesda is becoming the Alyssa Edwards of video games. They look bad, but it's okay, because it's Bethesda! Sorry, but no.

Plus, there isn't much post-game content. Once your finished with the side quests and the main story - that's pretty much it. Even the DLC (which is pitiful enough to have it's own article, which I will write later) didn't add enough to this unfinished mess!

THE BOTTOM LINE

Fallout 4 is an incomplete game. Despite it's amazing setting and fun cast of characters, they are all lost in a derivative main story. Sure, you could say that the story doesn't matter, but in an RPG - it most certainly does. Gameplay is but one fraction of the puzzle, if the story sucks, then the game is bad. It's that simple. And this story sucked, and the game suffered for it.

Was it one of Bethesda's worst games to date? Yes. I'm never one to sing Bethesda's praises, but they've been consistent with a lot of their content. They've had interesting stories, and fun game mechanics. Fallout 4 felt like an afterthought at best - and that's a problem. I only hope they give their next Fallout title to Obsidian, so we can get a good title.

Keep Reading Show less
Gaming

Dishonored, Fallout, and Elder Scrolls PC games dirt cheap this weekend

Huge sales across platforms from the Maryland-based RPG kings

Cop Elder Scrolls Online for just $12 or Fallout 4 for $25

Legendary game studio Bethesda has opted to ax the prices of its major titles across retail platforms this weekend.

Some of the highlights for the sale include the nearly 60 percent discount for Dishonored 2 which is available only at Green Man Gaming, follow this link. Steam and Bundle Stars also have significantly decreased their prices as a part of the weekend sale.

The sale has come at a strangely convenient time for the studio as their parent company, Zenimax, just won a major lawsuit against VR giant Oculus. Are we, the humble fans of Zenimax products, now the beneficiaries of America's outdated IP institution? Who knows? Who cares! While I'd be thrilled to think we're getting cheap Bethesda games on the dime of a Trump memester, I think this is probably just a routine online sale.

Check out this comprehensive list for the full scoop and be sure to follow each to link make sure you're getting the best possible deal. Remember, even if you buy from GMG, you're still getting a Steam game key so don't be discouraged by its janky storefront!

Dishonored

Fallout

The Elder Scrolls

Doom/Quake

All the rest...