Homosexuality and Fallout: New Vegas: A gay marriage made in gay Heaven

(This is the first edition of “</RANT>,” a weekly opinion piece column on FileFront. Check back every week for more).

As much as we like to talk about how videogames are art and worthy of cultural respect, there’s no denying that the medium has a lot of growing up to do. Nowhere is this more evident than with the general treatment of homosexuality within games. I can list on one hand the amount of gay characters I’ve seen in videogames that aren’t treated as borderline offensive jokes or identified almost exclusively by their gender preferences. Even the ones who are portrayed in a serious light are often so overwrought and needlessly camp that it looks patronizing at best and ignorant at worst.

This is why Fallout: New Vegas is such a wonderful game in its portrayal of gay characters. In fact, one character in particular has been realized so superbly, that you might not even know he’s gay at all. His name is Arcade Gannon, a member of the Followers of the Apocalypse. You may have had a high enough Speech Skill to recruit him as one of your companions, and you’ll find that he’s a rather excellent ally to have on your side. He’s armed with a deadly Plasma Rifle and a dry, cynical wit that makes him one of the more affable characters in the game. He’s also gay, and you’d hardly know it. In fact, he only really references his sexual inclination a handful of times should you converse about his life, and even when he talks about it, it’s in an incredibly offhand manner.

While completely downplaying what he insists is a boring and dull life, Arcade sarcastically asks why some man hasn’t come along and swept him off his feet. If you have the Confirmed Bachelor Perk, you can also flirt with him and win his trust, but for anybody else, this is the only real clue we ever get as to which way Arcade leans. This makes him, quite easily, the best gay character a videogame has ever had.

Now, you may be asking what the big deal is, and why something so absolutely forgettable and easy to miss is fantastic and worthy of merit. That’s just the point though — Arcade Gannon’s sexuality isn’t a big deal, and that’s how videogames should play it. Not just videogames, in fact, but all media would do well to not make such a big deal out of homosexuality. Rarely is there a gay character whose identity doesn’t completely revolve around their sexuality. Maybe they have a gay crush on the main character, or are tastelessly camp, or have to struggle in a straight world full of homophobia. Often they tick all three of those boxes. In Fallout: New Vegas, gay characters just … are. Which is how most gay people exist in real life, too. If you’ve grown up watching too much television, you may think that gay people are all lisping, mincing crossdressers who constantly talk about how gay they are, and more often than not try to murder a heterosexual best friend who spurned their gay advances. Unfortunately for you, gay people generally aren’t like that in real life. They’re normal, and as boring as straight people are.

This is what makes me love the character of Arcade Gannon so much. Not only is he a genuinely likable character with a snarky sense of humor and interesting backstory, but his sexuality is so mundane and unremarkable that it may as well have never been mentioned. That’s the kind of down-to-Earth realism that other games totally ignore when it comes to gay characters.

Arcade isn’t the only gay character in New Vegas. There is a lesbian sniper who was raped by a Fiend and becomes more sexually aggressive as a result, but again, the fact that she is talking about women and not men is only incidental. There is a gay male prostitute who, despite falling into dangerously camp territory, reveals quite a sad backstory that implies he’s merely putting on an act for his clients. You’ll also find NPCs around the New Vegas Strip reference sexual preferences as if they’re not a big deal. According to Fallout, war never changes — but enlightened attitudes toward sexuality apparently do! It’s a shame that it apparently took nuclear war in order for folk to become more laid back about LGBT issues.

We need not look too far back to get a nice example of how homosexuality is generally treated in videogames. Just take a look at Enchanted Arms, and the supporting character Makoto. Obsessively in love with the main character to the point of possible insanity, fighting with a saxophone and screaming all of his lines with a gratingly camp voice, Makoto seems to represent everything that the Westboro Baptist Church thinks about gay people. Makoto isn’t the only one, either — we have Shadow Hearts and a character who upgrades male characters by ostensibly raping them. We have Indigo Prophecy and a next door neighbor who goes out of his way to let us know which side of the bread he butters. Deadly Premonition presents its major gay character as a crossdressing psychopath. The classic media interpretation of a gay person is that of an insufferable fool who talks solely in innuendo and thinks exclusively of penis.

There have been more sensitive attempts in the past, and some of them successful. Earthbound, for instance, had Tony, who only vaguely hinted at his sexuality and was confirmed later outside of the source material as gay. Despite his status as a villain, the character of Vamp in the Metal Gear Solid series was a fairly badass bad guy whose sexual inclination was turned into a sensible sub-plot that was never dwelt upon. Fable 2 and 3 don’t really make a distinction between gay and straight relationships. Fallout itself has had a history of being all-inclusive, with Fallout 2 actually allowing the very first in-game same-sex marriages.

I don’t want to say that the LGBT world has been completely mocked or segregated by videogames, but the general portrayal of gay people across all media has always made a massive deal out of the “gay” part and not the “person” portion. Even the media that tries to portray gay people sensibly usually makes such a huge point of that sensibility as to appear disingenuous, like they’re almost patronizingly including a gay character purely to show how progressive they are.

And that’s why, in my mind, Fallout: New Vegas boasts the best gay character I’ve seen. Arcade Gannon is a great character on his own merits, and the very fact that his sexuality neither enhances nor diminishes his character is what truly makes him amazing. I realize that by drawing attention to it, I am in fact making a big deal out of it and thereby undermining my entire point, but there’s really no way to applaud Obsidian for what it did without committing the same crime I’ve accused other media of committing. So, at the risk of being a hypocrite, I simply want to say that Fallout: New Vegas gets a very gay thumbs up from me.

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91 Comments on Homosexuality and Fallout: New Vegas: A gay marriage made in gay Heaven

yourfavoriteredhead

On November 10, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Excellent “rant” Jim. More of this please, FileFront! :)

Samm Neiland

On November 10, 2010 at 2:26 pm

On behalf of homosexuals everywhere (which makes me sound conceited as hell) I agree with almost every word written in this article. Everything about Arcade encompasses what I want to see in homosexual characters. Sexuality being an aspect, but not being their entire character. Arcade himself is a man of so much intelligence, dignity and charm that I honestly WISH more men were like him when I’m on the dating scene. <3

Ben Ryan

On November 10, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Great article jim. I’m myself and never noticed he was a homo. I like sports and drink beer and talk about other things more then sex. Glad u noticed the stereotype.

Rexwolf2

On November 10, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Great rant Jim, one of the best things that I’ve read in a while.

Just one thing: why can’t you write more articles like this for Dtoid?

david

On November 10, 2010 at 2:52 pm

you forgot to mention the brotherhood of steel chick thats a lesbian. i think her names veronica

lila

On November 10, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Great article. Jim is becoming one of my favorite videogame writers.

Also, same as Arcade, Veronica reveals to be .

juv3nal

On November 10, 2010 at 3:04 pm

“Rarely is there a character whose identity doesn’t completely revolve around their sexuality. Maybe they have a crush on the main character, or are tastelessly camp, or have to struggle in a straight world full of homophobia. Often they tick all three of those boxes.”

April’s landlord Fiona in The Longest Journey also misses all those boxes IIRC.

TK Treadwell

On November 10, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Hi Jim,

This is Tess Treadwell, one of the producers on FNV. I wanted to mention that we also explore the disapproval of LGBT folks, as with the female companion. But like Arcade, it’s very much just part of the characters, not a focal part of the game nor their sole point of identity.

Thank you for your article – being , it was very important to me that the LGBT community approve of what we tried to do in FNV.

Andrew

On November 10, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Chris Avellone & J.E Sawyer are at the forefront of game writing and their mature treatment of sexuality is one of many great aspects about their work. It’s always great that game journos are recognising these things.

A very tightly written and well referenced article, this – one of your best!

public anenome

On November 10, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Great article once again Jim.

@Rexwolf2 I doubt Dtoid and it’s community would know what to do with an intelligent write-up such as this.

Limeade

On November 10, 2010 at 5:02 pm

A very lovely write-up! One that I couldn’t agree more on, and feel the exact same way about Fallout: New Vegas, its characters (particularly Arcade), and the LGBT issues explored.

Veronica is lesbian, and Cassidy appears to be bisexual as well. Companions that are interesting in and of themselves, even if Cass does come off a little like the depraved bisexual trope. Then again, she prefers to be aggressive and vulgar, so maybe it is all obfuscation or she simply is laid-back when it comes to sex.

Talking with Knight at the NCR Outpost will actually delve into an interesting conversation, one that paints the NCR as being less accepting of LGBT relationships/people. So it must be something kept on the downlow. Likewise, many companions and NPCs freely mouth off in-game about the Legion’s acceptance of homosexuality between men and homosexual activity. It paints a more complex world.

All in all, I am glad to be allowed to create a PC that I wanted to make (a male PC) that can roleplay and have outlets with NPCs (confirmed bachelor options and the man-prostitutes and dancers – of which I wish there were more, however). Josh Sawyer especially has my gratitude and adoration for New Vegas, and my thanks to the team as well!

Pan

On November 10, 2010 at 5:23 pm

@public anenome: Dtoider here. If you’re going to make a comment about our intelligence, you may want to use the correct form of “its”.

Great article, Jim.

Rai

On November 11, 2010 at 7:48 am

great article. thanks!

na

On November 11, 2010 at 8:08 am

Nice job completely counteracting your point with the included images.

Chris Amburgy

On November 11, 2010 at 8:10 am

Tony Prince from ‘The Ballad of Tony’ is the best character from any game ever. Also one of the best characters ever.

Marc

On November 11, 2010 at 8:15 am

Excellent article. I am actually a Christian and am a tad envious of this aspect of the FNV world, wishing that the Church I am a part of would approach homosexuality with a similarly non-damning, and affirming view of all of God’s children, regardless of sexual orientation.

Fedaykin

On November 11, 2010 at 8:55 am

@na Hmm, someone here doesn’t understand sarcasm…

Great article Jim.

JohnnieG

On November 11, 2010 at 9:34 am

I didn’t notice that Gannon Arcade was either. After playing Fallout 3 and becoming completely engrossed, I’ve loving New Vegas just as much. It is important to have homosexual video game characters that are not campy and exhibit affect. Not all of us are flamers or mega-butch. There is an entire spectrum in reality. Obsidian did a fine job with the game overall. I hope other game companies take note. Awesome article – it had to be reposted on my Facebook.

Bearfoot

On November 11, 2010 at 9:34 am

Thank you Marc. speaking from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Mr_Fringe

On November 11, 2010 at 11:48 am

Although I agree that the character is well done in portrayal of sexuality, I must qualify it. Some of the largest contributors to the hoopla about sexual preference is the GBLT community itself. Gannon doesn’t rely on sexual preference as an integral part of his identity, everyone should adhere to this policy.

phil

On November 11, 2010 at 2:15 pm

i agree completely, arcade gannon is a great character and should serve as a shining example to lgbt gamers. the best homosexual is one whos sexual preference cant be discovered just by looking at them. after all, sex is a private matter and everything pertaining to it should be kept as such. unfortunately, culture seems to be dominated by a vocal minority of “screamers” whos entire lives and personalities are defined by their sexual preferences. these are the people who are largely responsible for continuing homophobia as well as continuing cultural stereotypes. it is for this reason that i would argue that the community has just as much “growing up to do” as the rest of society when it comes to homosexuality. heres to characters like arcade gannon paving the way.

OldMidhurstian

On November 11, 2010 at 2:20 pm

A truly excellent article and kudos to Obsidian for creating realistic characters. Surely the whole point, for most of us, is that our sexuality doesn’t define us and neither should it.

Ether

On November 11, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Great article, Jim! It’s good to see that homosexuality is being handled in a mature manner by some game companies.

Buster

On November 11, 2010 at 8:27 pm

GREAT article! Thanks!

Jhhg

On November 11, 2010 at 8:28 pm

@Phil sounds like someone needs to take their own advice

Mr. 47

On November 11, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Can you kill this character? Hopefully they didn’t leave that out just because he’s . I’d like to see how he is after a mini nuke to the face.

NO THANKS

On November 11, 2010 at 10:24 pm

That shall all BURN. Like MR. 46 said, a NUKE TO THE FACE will work.

FLAME ON, HOMOS!!!

Jokester

On November 11, 2010 at 10:54 pm

LOL you’re so !

berto

On November 11, 2010 at 11:32 pm

There were quite a few other characters in the game who pretty much revealed to be so normal, not in the way is if their sexuality was tacked on, that it wouldn’t seem to offend anyone. Veronica is also a companion. cowgirl, NCR ranger, etc, etc. Great story and environment made up for the technical pitfalls of New Vegas.

Marie

On November 12, 2010 at 4:31 am

Some of the characters in FONV seemed for the sake of it, especially Veronica. Arcade is a decent character though

Argent

On November 12, 2010 at 5:19 am

Nice article, really – but MAN, did you spoil Deadly premonition for me.

Starwars

On November 12, 2010 at 5:39 am

Pretty interesting article, and I agree with what is said. The writers did a really nice job at keeping things downplayed and natural.
Interesting thing is that I posted this on the Bethesda forums and the thread got closed down and the link was removed. Closing the thread I kinda almost expected given how some people were responding over there (typical flamefest stuff) but removing the link as well was just strange.

someguy

On November 12, 2010 at 6:28 am

More interestingly (to me), if you play as a female character, you can still “sleep with” most of the female NPCs that sexual encounters are available with and it’s not handled any differently than if your character is male. (Same dialog, same fade-to-black scene change.) Of course, I’m not , but I thought that was much more interesting and telling.

Terry

On November 12, 2010 at 7:25 am

One of the best things I have ever read on this subject ……. Superb !!!!!!!!!! Lets have more.

Terry

On November 12, 2010 at 7:30 am

Let me add ……. well written for any subject , a plesure from top to bottom . …….. I mean is Superb .

Scheppy999

On November 12, 2010 at 9:25 am

Yay! Tess! XD
I was also really surprised by the amount of content. I immediately picked up the “Confirmed Bachelor” perk and went to town (so to speak).
There’s also a few letters and journals you can find out in the waste having to do with relationships (still trying to find them) <_<

Helljumper4

On November 12, 2010 at 12:51 pm

I respect what they have said here about how “s” are just as normal as us Straight people,some of my friends I grew up with are bi,but I never mind their still my friends and very friendly their not weird or different their just like anyone else.

Helljumper4

On November 12, 2010 at 12:54 pm

@Marc

I completely agree with you,it seem very wrong we should see non straights(I know stupid way to say it..) I agree that we should be welcoming to them and accept them for who they are,sometimes their just born that way does it mean we should treat them as outcast,God wouldn’t why should we…

johnEvegas

On November 12, 2010 at 12:55 pm

I figured out immediately that dude was . I dropped him like a bad habit, not because he was , because the character was lame. On my second play thru I might pal around with him more. I am a straight male 40YOA and I LOVE the gender bending that goes on in Fallout3 and NV. To me, like the real world, it just makes it more real.

geekminxen

On November 12, 2010 at 1:08 pm

FO3 had characters as well– the weapon dealers in Rivet City. Using a perjorative term toward one of them actually helped develop a villain’s character (“Hey, he’s badmouthing that guy at Rivet City! Jerk!”). And it had a bisexual woman, Bittercup. So…yay Fallout. :>

mojodiscontunuity

On November 12, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Veronica, another potential companion in FONV is also sexy, badass and snarky, but like Arcade, you do not know her sexual orientation unless you devlve deeper into her personal story and reveals that she was in love with a woman in the Brotherhood Of Steel, but they were separated by the other woman’s parents…

Shane

On November 12, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Great article, great point. Also, I love the recent trend in gaming journalism of intelligent well-written essays and opinion articles.

TopHatBlue

On November 13, 2010 at 12:56 am

I really liked him, too, and the approach to his sexuality was well-handled, I thought. It’s not like being is ever the be-all, end-all of someone’s identity, but it is an integral part, and Arcade and Veronica represented this extremely well. The handling of non-straight sexualities in New Vegas was done with understatement, but it wasn’t erasure. I was so glad that he was quite casual, comfortable, and forthright about himself as you got to know him. And he’s funny, smart, and badass. Thumbs up, Obsidian.

WolfGrim

On November 13, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Thanks for a great article! FNV is a great game and I know I loved the entire approach they had to the characters in the game.

ypocaramel

On November 13, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Yea. I’m glad, on the flipside, that what made me cringe about Arcade was the never-ending sarcasm and snarkiness, not anything related to his sexual orientation :)

SC_Wolf

On November 14, 2010 at 1:37 am

FO3 had a couple of homosexual pairings among it’s NPCs as well. Carol and Greta in Underworld, and Flak and Shrapnel in Rivet City. In fact, if you take Flak to Paradise Falls for the Slavers’ quest, Shrapnel will set out to wander the Wasteland looking for his partner.

ron furches

On November 14, 2010 at 1:50 pm

I just finished the game and never got to interact with Arcade. I killed all the followers, guess I’ll have to play over. Red Dead Redemption had a few characters. One is a waiter and when he brings you a second drink he pushes his butt toward your characters face and your guy rolls his eyes. ILMAO. Great writing

Robert Yang

On November 14, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Mr. Sterling: I disagree with this article – A LOT.

Feminine and flamboyant men are still men, and they shouldn’t have to make themselves more “palatable” by neutering themselves or by assimilating as “masculine” men.

Understatement can be good writing, yes, but to insist that ALL video game characters follow this less model? That’s not understatement anymore; that’s tyranny.

Because no one ever got any rights by just “keeping it to themselves.”

My full counter-rant, for anyone interested, is here:
http://www.blog.radiator.debacle.us/2010/11/-but-not--characters-in-video.html

Todd Rogers

On November 14, 2010 at 9:28 pm

He he he, Arcade Gannon. Such a funny name.

Antonio

On November 15, 2010 at 8:46 am

I have to say I have been ranting about the Fall Out series since I played 2 all those years ago. Simply put this game franchise goes above and beyond the status of a regular game and truly becomes high art. The amount of literary, philosophical and social references that are made in these games are astounding. What a beautiful series :) However with Fable – It does promote polygamy as I have married two men and have two other heterosexual marriages too….:) Life is good lol

Shaun

On November 15, 2010 at 8:47 am

Hm. Interesting.

So – why did it matter to you that he was ? I mean, you say it shouldn’t matter to media, but you wrote a big column about it?

I’d say it adds to the complexity of the character and that it should be touched on, but that’s just my opinion.

Sarah J.

On November 15, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Fantastic article! It captures my thoughts perfectly. And combined with other good things I have heard about New Vegas, I am really tempted to buy that game though I don’t really have time to spend on another game at the moment. Big kudos to the developers. (Though the “typical” rape issue for the female companion squicks me out. I hope that, too, is only mentioned in passing.)

@Shaun: “Why does it matter?” Correct me if I’m wrong, but you are probably straight, white and male, yes? Therefor, the vast majority of stories/games/movies (that aren’t considered “fringe” or “special interest”) cater 100% to you. Imagine if it wasn’t like that, if from birth you got presented with the implicitly or explicitly stated assumption that people like you aren’t worth telling stories about, that no one wants to read about you, or that you are treated as if you don’t exist. I can assure you, it is not fun.

As a homosexual woman who spent her childhood and youth craving role models and not being invisible, I can honestly say that it feels DAMN GOOD when a game, book or movie features an openly character or a strong woman who isn’t exploited, degraded or otherwise diminished sooner or later, or a stereotype from the start.

Not making a big deal of sexual orientation (or gender) but simply portraying people-as-people, as human beings just like the ubiquitous straight white men — that is EXACTLY what I enjoy seeing in a game.

Judah

On November 15, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Jeez, all the people I know love telling everyone how they are and seem overly fixated on sex and talking about it.

phildog

On November 16, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Good article, I should point out that AG isn’t the only companion you get in the game. Victoria, the young brotherhood scribe, is a lesbian. She also doesn’t mention it unless you ask her about her backstory.

Joe

On November 16, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Stop hanging out in bath houses, Judah

Ava Avane Dawn

On November 17, 2010 at 7:45 am

I would like to caution against the one size fits all solution (explicitly?) proposed in this write up, where one possible consequence would be making the everyday trials and tribulations of homosexuals outside of FNV invisible. Put the article is well written and for sure, especially for video games, this is they way to go in many cases.

Clarissa

On November 18, 2010 at 3:45 am

I agree with your point but I also think a little as Rober Yang. I really think it’s also OK to depict people as what they seem to be in reality. If a character is all flashy and girly, I think he should be depicted as such. I take my acquantaices as a rule… for half of them it is difficult to tell if they are , for the other half is pretty much easy.
I understand that show homossexualism in games priorising one side (stereotype) is wrong… but tending to the other one is also wrong. As an example for what I am saying: the biggest TC broadcast channel here in my country only show homossexuals that are “masculine”, rich and intellectuals.

Japanese games, when portraying characters (at least for me) tend to be really general. For example, in Guilty Gear, Bridget is a boy who dresses like a nun; he is a crossdresses. And japanese people see this as normal, because this culture is the most commom as possible today.
Also, in FF IX it is hard to tell in the beggining whether Kuja is os is not a man. He is a man, but a totally feminine one. And this is not mentioned in the game, only shown in visual scenes, as if it doesn’t matter to anyone that he is the way he is.

Either girly, either marculine, I think all characters should be trated as “not a big deal”. All of them.

Val

On November 22, 2010 at 6:47 am

I can’t believe Robert Yang was the first person to see through this bull. On behalf of all those people who are not self-hating, we reject your argument. Being isn’t an afterthought to an identity and you needing it to be minimized for you to be comfortable makes you the opposite of tolerant.

Curley

On November 22, 2010 at 9:32 pm

I found Arcade to be an interesting character in that his homosexuality was constantly present throughout the game in his interactions with NPCs. It was also indicative in his evasiveness in regards to his past, even drawing parallels with communism and the cold war attack on s. Fallout dealt with many social issues, but as a man I felt that for perhaps the first time in my many years of gaming, people could experience an authentic environment that includes homosexuals in negative, positive, and completely neutral lights. From Caesar’s Legion and it’s classically inspired male bonding, (complete with sexism) to the NCRs don’t ask, don’t tell policy. To the Brotherhood’s treatment of Veronica, and Manny and Boone’s strained relationship. It’s an eerie reflection of modern America. Fallout deserves better discussion than this launch pad into the question of queens. (Also bringing up Enchanted Arms is a bit contrived by now, even with a childish photo-shop gleaned from 4chan.) Thank you for attempting to help Mr. Sterling, but I think you kinda missed the point.

dog thing

On November 26, 2010 at 10:23 pm

I remember playing through FO3 and bemoaning the fact that there was a ‘Black Widow’/'LadyKiller’ set of perks but no equivalent. When I found out there WAS one for both genders in FNV I was absolutely floored. I can honestly say that it was completely unexpected, the only downside being that there weren’t more dialogue options associated with the two… which arguably, is kind of a small gripe, but that doesn’t really change the desire to see more conversational avenues (also I noticed that confirmed bachelor has fewer sex-related options than chercewhatevertheheckit’scalled, which seemed odd).

Which brings me to Veronica. Thrilled to see a genuinely likeable lesbian character that is … quirky as hell, intelligent and fun to talk to. I found myself wishing she wouldn’t run out of dialogue so fast once her quest was over. She had lovely shades of Kumatora going on.

My next time through I’m gonna have to nab Gannon as a companion; much as I liked Boone kicking ass and taking names (his side plot wasn’t bad, either), both Veronica and Gannon have struck me as the most interesting and articulate of the companions. It just made my day to find out the ones I liked the most happened to be ones I wished were around when I was growing up, finding I liked girls a whole lot more than ‘maybe I should,’ and playing video games (seconding what others before me have said!)

dog thing

On November 26, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Amending this, also: I think the big ‘wow’ moment of an underplayed guy (or girl) showing up in a game is largely thanks to the fact that it doesn’t happen as often as the flamboyant angle. There’s nothing wrong with being totally out there, but there’s a lot of media I can point to where that’s the type of character they went with. I CAN’T point to a lot of media where it’s understated, and it seems doubly rare to see an understated character in a story that didn’t revolve around him being .

Everything has it’s place, yanno? It’s good there’s both types out there. This is just not something I tend to see. It’s almost always a BIG DEAL!!! in the story that there’s some going on. That it’s not in this one is, I think, what really made the day of a lot of the respondents here (and the original author, too).

Julio

On November 27, 2010 at 12:30 pm

As a teenager, I play games during quite a lot of time, and there never seems to be a normal person in a game… Or any person at all. In fact, I don’t remember any game that has the main protagonist as a character. Also, the constant stereotypical portrayal of people when they’re actually in games, which is unfortunately very rare, is just completely unfair and ignorant. We *do* exist, y’know…

Also, seeing as half of the homophobic people in this world are teenagers, who mostly play games, including characters can have a very positive influence on their acceptance of non-heterosexual people, so it’s a win-win.

Keep the good work up Beth/Obsidian, and thanks for the article :D

stevethesteve

On November 27, 2010 at 7:43 pm

I don’t think Mr. Sterling is trying to say that all characters should conform to a certain “normal” image, and that they should downplay their sexuality. I believe what he meant to say is that he found it refreshing that there was a character in a game, who is homosexuality, but that their entire identity didn’t revolve around being . We all have to admit, there are a lot of shows, movies, and maybe even a few video games that have “the character,” whose only defining feature is that he is and everything about him that’s interesting is about him being . Sexuality is a huge part of our lives, I agree, and exploring it in media is awesome, but I’m with Jim in saying that I wish there were more characters who are more than just “the character,” like a guy who is a AWOL solider running from his past, and , or a guy who is a master thief, and . I agree with Mr. Yang that more “flamboyant” and “girly” acting homosexuals need representation in media too (I really the Shore Leave video), and I hope one day we can find a healthy equilibrium between characters and characters who are , but for now I side with Mr. Sterling. Sexuality is a topic that should be explored in video games, but Fallout is a video game about exploring the post-apocalypse, sexuality isn’t really its focus, I hope we will see more games that focus on such topics in the future, but for now the fact that there are cool characters in this game is a really good thing.

WarKirby

On December 8, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Veronica Santangelo in the same game, deserves mention too. If you talk to her a bit she mentions an affair with another girl that ended badly. Unfortunately it was one of those “victimised in a straight culture” scenarios, but it was still a nice inclusion

FNV Player

On December 18, 2010 at 1:21 am

Gannon has a plasma rifle? I thought it was a plasma pistol.

Me

On December 23, 2010 at 3:07 am

The main problem is that in games and TV shows the people are usually intrusive , although sexuality is only a minor matter for everyone else.

It’s be fine in a situation where everyone is much more open to sexuality (be it a night in club or a different society/world) but when the “ person” is defined only by his/her sexuality while everyone else worries about anything but getting laid, the one becomes a joke.

Rachel

On December 23, 2010 at 6:29 pm

You might have missed it, but Arcade’s not the only party member in New Vegas. Power Fist-toting Brotherhood exile Veronica is a lesbian, and it’s kept about as offhand and personal as it is for Arcade, and shotgun-totin’ hard-drinkin’ Cass is implicitly bisexual.

Hedonistic Pagan

On January 4, 2011 at 2:13 am

this is ridiculously retarded. the best part about new Vegas is killing all the s and the Gomorrah whores.

you’ve allowed lust to define who you are as a person and shamefully boast that you proud to be perverse.

Jedibeeftrix

On January 8, 2011 at 10:11 am

Good article Jim,

Having your article here and the counter-punch from Tim Yang I believe I have most sympathy with yours, and I am delighted to find that the devs have created such deep and likeable characters.

“To insist that effeminate men are “camping it up” and should just “be normal” is homophobia.”

I don’t really have much sympathy with the quote from Yang’s article above, if only because gushing overwrought emotion for public consumption is something that irritates me in general, whether it be excess-campness or the myriad other forms the human condition is capable of generating.

I have yet to play New Vegas, but I am only anticipating it all the more as a result of your review.

zadruga

On January 9, 2011 at 10:02 pm

So, why should being not be an after thought of your personality? Im straight, and its pretty much an after thought of who I am. There is a lot more to me then who I like to put my in.

Ro

On January 10, 2011 at 5:01 pm

I just wanted to say that this was an excellent read. I’m a woman. I’m 21. I like video games, Pepsi Max and the ocean—oh, and I happen to be . It’s not a huge aspect of my life, it’s one of the many tiny parts that makes up the whole of who I am. And you know what? Nothing bothers me more than when people insist upon labelling me based upon my sexuality. Who I’m attracted to is nobody’s business, and it shouldn’t colour anybody’s opinion of me any more than the fact that I wear size 6UK shoes.

I found Arcade to be a great example of a character handled cleverly and sensitively—the point is not that he’s written as a character trying to be normal (i.e. appear straight), but rather that he is a character in his own right without his sexuality completely consuming his persona.

I understand that a lot of people have been through some terrible struggles to be accepted for who they are, and that problem probably won’t ever go away until society is completely annihilated and started from scratch, but when the media insists upon portraying characters solely as flamers, whose raison d’etre is to be ‘The One’, you have to wonder if we’ll ever shake this tendency toward discrimination while there are so many frankly shallow and offensive depictions of people as nothing more than a walking, talking sex drive.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t flamboyant s out there, or that they’re any less respectable than the ones who don’t make their sexuality an issue. It’s a matter of showing all points in the spectrum and treating characters as PEOPLE, not comic relief. I think they’ve succeeded in doing that quite nicely with New Vegas, and Arcade just so happens to be my favourite character of the series.

Chrissy H

On March 1, 2011 at 9:33 pm

We dont play games to capture reality, this game is set in a post nuclear war world. I dot care about how normal homosexuals are in the real world. I want over the top stereotypes, I want to be entertained, I don’t want realism. I want the overly busty woman
And I want the steroids meat head and I want the flamboyantly man, because even if it’s not normal, they do entertain me.

Nothing against people, but I want entertainment, which is really why I buy a video game in the first part anyways.

Johnny

On March 2, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Well Chrissy how would you like it if the media began to portray anyone named Chrissy as an embarassing characature which caused people to assume that you’re secretly one too?

No. It’s absolutely ridiculous. Guys can be camp if that’s who they are, but some of us want to be seen for who WE ARE rather than who the people with as little as ONE thing in common with ARE, and that’s essentially what the media has done to us. They’ve shoved stereottypes town the throats of my fellow teens.

I’m also Canadian. That doesn’t mean I want everyone to think I like hockey and say “eh.” Fortunately canadians are portrayed as normal people in the media, so I don’t really have that problem. But when it comes to my sexuality, I unfortunately don’t have that luxury.

K

On March 18, 2011 at 2:52 am

Late to the party here but yes, absolutely. Wonderful article and it was something I noticed myself as I was playing through FNV with quite a lot of joy.

What I especially appreciated was that my character could essentially be as well. As a female character (especially with the Cherchez La Femme perk), I could sleep and flirt my way across the wasteland with fellow women – aside from those who displayed a clear preference for men such as Maude. It made the game far for fulfilling and immersive for me as a woman than say, Fallout 3, where as a female character I only have the option of flirting with male characters.

Nikko

On March 25, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Idk about this. I think the phrase most people would use to describe a that wasn’t obviously is “straight acting”.

Shouldn’t the community be the most accepting of the campy flamers? After all, who really bears the brunt of name calling and violence – the flamer or the str8 acting?

Auds

On April 8, 2011 at 4:39 pm

I read this article a while back and wholeheartedly agreed with it. After reviewing some of the comments, however, I started to second guess my opinion when Tim Yang presented the fact that all the people in Fallout:NV are “not enough”. people are represented, but only as subtly and “straight acting”. None of them are flamboyant or eccentric as some people in real life naturally are. I decided not to comment because my opinion was conflicted and so I went right back to playing my game.

Then I came back because I need to call bull.

There ARE campy “flaming” s in that game!! There are actually quite a few. The awesome thing about this game is yes- there are lots of characters, no- it’s not their main personality trait, no- its not always obvious, YES- it sometimes is. The Kings Gang hair dresser is the most flamboyant I can imagine is possible to make a character. Coming in close second is Pretty Sarah’s prostitute. I’m not sure why no one else noticed this but the way Arcade talks isn’t straight acting to me at all. He mostly sounds nerdy but if you compare him to most male characters, especially NCR, he sounds pretty damn to me (especially when whining about his love life). I never once got anything other than a strong butch lesbian vibe from corporal Betsy, even before she was hitting on my female player. Yeah ok Brotherhood of Steel companion Veronica wants a dress but she is also the best fist fighter and likes getting her hands dirty fixing things. Like, oh let’s see, every single tomboy lesbian I know.

If people in Tim Yang’s camp aren’t seeing *enough* classic stereotypical characters, that’s their ignorance talking. In real life the eccentric s are the ones that are noticed and pointed out, but it doesn’t change the fact that they only comprise a portion of the community. Much in the way this game portrays them. This enhanced my understanding of the world of Fallout quite a bit. In a future where religion barely exists, and unless you’re part of a group that relies heavily on procreation and breeding, sexuality makes no difference.

Andrew

On May 4, 2011 at 1:43 am

Hi just wanted to say that your “rant” was perfect bieng bi myself I loved how homesexual and lesbian characters are portrayed with the sexual preference underplayed to the point where there above suion, I hate the way modern media portrays homosexuals as sex freaks and I hate using ths word but flamers.*wince* I have this problem myself, especially bieng that im 15. I think if the people upstair heard about this it would really make some waves. Once again great thoughts and hats off to you.

clint

On May 13, 2011 at 12:42 pm

I must be playing a different game, because it seems like half of the characters are , im hit on by dudes everywhere i go in this game, whether its the doctor at one of the camps or benny or just some random homo. how does new vegas even maintain a population with the lack of straight folk? maybe they should rename it- fallout the musical!

Gannon

On June 20, 2011 at 9:10 am

omg gannon is !!!

we are going to have a talk, i shared a bed with that man!

Gram

On July 9, 2011 at 12:33 am

I love this, but too bad that he uses energy weapons not enough energy ammo to go around… and that the followers of the apocolypse aren’t suppose to be carrying guns. Am I the only one that played the first game???

Alan Miller

On July 18, 2011 at 10:12 am

I remember the out and out character in Enchanted Arms and he was the best thing the game had to offer.

Dragon Age Origins has a nice raunchy scene when the warden and group enter the Pearl House of Ill Repute. The madam offers either men or women for their enjoyment. I choose the men. When I get one of the cute men, he makes a remark about the good choice. Then I’m transported to a bedroom and the guy is in his underwear on the bed. He makes a remark about leaving the hardware at the door or some other innuendo about my wares. The warden (clad only in undies, too) approaches him as the lights go out. Then all you hear are moans and groans of obvious joy.

I go back often to this saved scene just for the raunchy fun of it.

I look forward to meet Aracade Gannon after all the effemenite Elvis clones in G.I. Blues.

And thanks for a great article

Alan Miller

On July 18, 2011 at 10:28 am

My male character in New Vegas sports a buffed phsique and is shirtless prancing around the wastelands in just ripped shorts and tennis shoes (outfit compliments of The Powder Gang). Of course, he dies quickly in shootouts for lack of armor. But he’s a joy to behold.

Ms. Jimmi

On August 12, 2011 at 6:37 pm

I actually like the Doctor in the NCR Camp. I swoon when he refers to me as his “little butter cup!” SWOON! (I am married to a doctor in real life.) I also found Flak and Shrapnel cute in a rough trade way.

Kael

On September 8, 2011 at 6:07 pm

It’s like Leliana in Dragon Age I; lesbian [well bi, but had a lesbian lover] and you never know it until you are good friends with her and she tells you why she left Orlais

My brother is the one who told me she was a lesbian. I played through Dragon Age I 3 times, and only on my third game did she bring up Marjolene.

John

On January 26, 2012 at 12:54 am

I love this article. Well done.

Lee

On April 10, 2012 at 11:27 am

The points you make here are exactly why I love the characters in the series Caprica. The hitman isn’t revealed as until a dinner with his nephew and partner. The nephew asks why they havent adopted a child yet. It was a matter of fact and normal conversation without any of the garbage I see with characters in other shows. I was so astonished to see a character I could relate to I had to see it again to make sure I hadn’t missed the punch line that normally comes. There wasn’t one. These were real characters who were like everyone I know. Were just regular guys who happen to like guys. Period. Not that I’m a hit man mind you. This is not to say there isn’t room in our world for the campy, overtly guys I know as well. They can’t help the swish any more than I can help who I am, but the media has done such a good job of demonizing these guys and making monsters out of all of us to scare people and get ratings. It’s easy to pick on the obvious ones and that’s not right either.

Daydreamdirty

On July 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Look, homosexuality is a choice. Being , is choosing to be happy. I have to point this out because coming from a different direction I have to be specific so others can understand just why I agree to this but still am disgusted with what you posted.

I never asked for these feelings, but I have to deal with them because if I don’t, someone else will in a way that I’ll hate.

Yes you should never make a big deal out of these sort of things as it really isn’t important in anyway, shape or form outside of one’s personal life.

As it is, there’s one man I’m attracted to and it’s caused me nothing but issues so far.

The real problem with homosexuality is that in the end it destroys you and twists you into something you wish you’d never become. For me my addiction to porn has lead me down some devastating and some awful roads; mainly homosexuality and whatever the term is called that involves children.
Yes I hate those feelings, but they are natural. But more importantly, they will help you down the wrong path in life so that in the end you’ll be off worse than before you made the choice to be .

Seymour Asses

On November 9, 2012 at 11:11 am

Gosh darnit, I knew confirmed bachelor would come in handy at some point. Now I’ll never get the remnant vault :(

Rhiannon

On May 18, 2013 at 6:59 pm

I couldn’t agree more! This article makes PERFECT sense and no point was undermined in the least. Rather, you stood up for what’s true and I applaud you for that big time. Just like don’t you just hate it how online you always see “Transgendered Models” who look exactly like female supermodels with huge breasts and wide hips, but with penises? I am truly sorry but not all T-Girls even have breasts or hips of that sort at all. Sometimes even with hormones they can’t grow their breasts out depending on how late in life they decide to transiiton and some don’t even take hormones becase they can’t afford to. I know this one T-Girl names Jessica and she was born partly genetically female (a Hermaphrodite basically) but she doesn’t have breasts though she does have very feminine hips and a totally feminine figure. However, she happened to be born with only the male part down there and doesn’t have the feamle part. As a result of her Hermaphroditism, she doesn’t feel she needs to take hormones at all but otherwise lives as a woman, is totally passable, and is accepted as a woman (for the most part) in her community. She wears breast forms to compensate for her lack of breasts, and she feels they are a part of her and a part of how she expresses herself as a woman. Now she told me terrible stories of how people have called her a “Freak” or a “Mutant” or whatever and some people have even beat her and hurt her. She even had to get a job as a prostitute at one point just to survive. So she’s fought her entire life for acceptance. And when I think of T-Girls I don’t think about supermodels I think of women like Jessica who have bodies more like young girls who have yet to develop breasts. Almost 70% of the Transwomen I have had the pleasure of being friends with, that’s how they really look too. Some are more passable (like Jessica) and others are not all that passable at all, but they try. I think that online, T-Girls are overly sexualized to the point that people forget they’re human beings… real women by any other name, flaws and all… with real problems in life. Even in video games, you never see an option to create a Transgendered character or even to cross-dress (though Morrowind did allow for male characters to wear female attire and vice versa and Oblivion had mods created for both cross-dressers and Transgendered people alike). I would love to see a broader character creation spectrum that incorporates androgynous and transgender looks as well as standard male and female ones. I know Jessica has often told me she wishes there were more flexibility with video games in that regard. And I totally agree with her on that! Even Ultima III back in the day had the option to choose “Other” for gender but that was tossed out of the series with the advent of Ultima IV onward. Morrowind had the right idea but in Skyrim you’re stuck with very masculine men and very feminine women and there doesn’t seem to be much leeway for blurring the lines. Which is sad, because to me that’s a step backward. :) Also, I think it should simply be part of the natural character creation screen not touted on the box as a feature to draw attention to it. Just treat it like it’s normal and people will accept it that much easier I believe.

OhSoCamp

On December 9, 2013 at 5:03 pm

I actually think this article is terribly femmephobic.

Chris

On December 18, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Wow, I think it’s pretty awesome that he’s talking about how discreetly that Gannon is, and goes out of his way to mention other characters, but didn’t even mention Veronica (A main companion who is a lesbian). She must be the most discreet character that the game has to offer, huh?