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Your Xbox Isn't Going to Turn You Gay
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on March 12, 2008   |   Episode 144 (Show Archive)  

   

Wait ... this is what all of the controversy is about?
"Gross." "Immoral." "Disgusting." "Repugnant." What on earth are these forum posters so disturbed by? Is it the ultra violence of Condemned 2? Perhaps it's the Holocaust locale of Imagination is the Only Escape? Or what about the recent announcement of the Major League Eating video game? Nope, it's not any of those things. Instead the rabid forum goers are up in arms about ... an achievement in Bully: Scholarship Edition?

That's right, gamers around the world (though, mostly in the United States) are crying foul at the idea of the "Over the Rainbow" achievement, a 20 point achievement that requires the main character of Bully (a misunderstood troublemaker named Jimmy Hopkins) to kiss a certain amount of male classmates. That's right, Rockstar Games is rewarding you for scoring

Don't get too excited, these two cartoon characters are not about to make out (you're safe ... for now)!
with the gents of Bullworth Academy, something that is almost unheard of in the current video game climate.

Of course, kissing boys in Bully is nothing new. The PlayStation 2 version of the game (which was released late in 2006) also allowed you to get to first base with a number of attractive gents. But while it's true that Jimmy can dabble in homosexual encounters in the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 versions of Bully (not to mention the recently released Nintendo Wii port), it's also true that this part of the game is 100% optional, most gamers would never discover this unless they actively tried to get fresh with another teenage boy.

But for some odd reason the reaction is decidedly different now that the game is on the Xbox 360. Apparently gamer score addicts

The problem with the message boards is that everybody is too afraid to give out their real names, so I'm forced to give you pictures of kids with hateful signs!
feel that they simply must earn every achievement point in the games they buy, thus meaning that Rockstar is somehow forcing these sexually closed-minded kids to cavort with boys that bat for the other team (and I don't mean Bullworth's baseball team). In doing this Rockstar Games has created something of a dilemma for some Xbox 360 owners - are they secure enough with their own sexuality to kiss a few boys, or are they going to forgo the easy 20 points in protest?

There is a third option, these gamers could simply rush to the various Bully forums and act as if Rockstar Games is asking them to rape the family pet. Sadly, this is exactly what is happening. Instead of simply keeping their disgust to themselves, these Xbox 360 owners have decided to spread their intolerance and naivety all over the place ... even when it makes them look bigoted. In fact, now that I've read some of these posts, I wouldn't be surprised if these

These anti-gay people would have more of a case if they were also against video game violence!
misguided (and incredibly immature) gamers wouldn't be more comfortable simulating the rape of the family pet. Talk about a sad state of affairs.

The average post seems to sound a little like this: "I don't want to kiss a bunch of guys ... I'm not an achievement whore, I only get every achievement in games I truly love." While I can't help but disagree with him, it is his right to decide whether or not he wants to earn an achievement for kissing boys. Unfortunately not everybody is as diplomatic. In the very same forum thread Fauxjangles (not his real name, I assume) states that "Virtual homosexuality is still homosexuality."

Perhaps this is as good a place to start as any. By Fauxjangles's rationale, anything you do in a video game is real. So, if you stick to that way of thinking, then killing people in Manhunt 2 is the same as killing people in real life, or collecting coins in Super Mario Bros. is the same as earning money in the real world. If that's the case, then

Of course the reason that Hillary Clinton is losing to Sen. Obama has nothing to do with her opinion on violent video games, but for the sake of this article I'm going to say that it does!
apparently Jack Thompson, Hillary Clinton and the rest of the anti-game lobby is right when they say that video game violence begets real violence. After all, if you've killed one hooker in Grand Theft Auto, then you might as well do it in real life.

Of course, gamers don't actually buy into this. When it comes to the Jack Thompson's of the world most gamers scoff at the idea that playing a violent video game is going to turn them into a mass murdering sociopath. And they scoff at this for good reason; there is absolutely no evidence that backs up that Grand Theft Auto turns suggestive people into killers. But for whatever reason the forumites just aren't able to put these things together, so we see comment after comment suggesting that kissing a boy in a video game is the same as kissing a boy in real life.


So let me get this right, it's okay to kill little girls in BioShock, but having an innocent homosexual experience in Bully is over the line?
Reasonable people know that this isn't true, because if it was then the entire gaming population would be in prison right now. When it comes right down to it, kissing a boy is hardly the worst thing gamers have done for their favorite interactive product. Judging by the popularity of Halo, shooting people in the face doesn't seem to be a big moral issue with these players. And what about having sex with a hooker and killing her to get your money back? Yup, that's perfectly acceptable too. And don't even get me started on the idea that you're killing pre-teen girls in BioShock. Yet it's not until a game allows you to get to first base with another boy that it crosses the line for some of these people. That's right; they would rather slaughter a young girl than even think about getting that close to another man.

Perhaps even more troubling is the fact that these people don't see the problem with their logic. As expected a lot of the people on the forums suggested that for them it's about religion, which is certainly something to be expected when talking about homosexuality. To quote Drake326 (who I assume is not using his real name): "I'm quite fond of the religious excuse in

Sure, at one point racism and misogyny was justified using the Bible, but clearly we're past those dark days of intolerance ... as proven by Flavor Flav and Paris Hilton!
times like these, considering I am religious and kissing a guy in a video game is acknowledging that the act of homosexuality is acceptable which goes against what I believe in. Woot."

Woot, indeed. There's nothing better than blaming your intolerance on a two thousand year old book. And why not, Drake326 is in good company. When women were forbidden to vote, it was the Bible that was used as the reasoning. And what about our troubled race relations? You better believe that religion was the scapegoat that justified slavery and outright discrimination. Like it or not, the Bible tends to be the one argument that everybody makes when it comes to treating people like second-class citizens. Woot.

But let's not forget that this so-called Christian is really nothing more than a bold-faced hypocrite. All it took was one

Maybe it's in the outtakes, but I don't remember the scene in The Ten Commandments where Charlton Heston talks about boys kissing boys!
look at his profile to see that he's eagerly awaiting Grand Theft Auto IV, loved Halo 3 and can't get enough Call of Duty 4. I do seem to remember something in the Bible suggesting that killing, stealing and having pre-marital sex was also a sin. In fact, if I remember correctly some of those are actually on the Ten Commandments (unlike kissing boys, which is regulated to only a few passing comments half-way through the book). So here we have yet another gamer who has decided to pick and choose the things that he agrees with, showing us that killing is fine, but homosexuality is a sin. Of course, that's nothing new, if we were to follow the Bible then not only is homosexuality a sin, but so is getting divorced.

But this isn't about religion; it's about making mountains out of molehills. I come back to the idea that you don't actually have to perform homosexual acts in Bully if you don't want to. But for some people just the very thought of the achievement is enough to question their security with their own

Look, I won't kid you, I could show you pictures of gay bashing and Matthew Sheppard, but I with such heavy subject matter perhaps it's better we keep a few of these pictures nice and cute!
sexuality. What's more, some people clearly feel that it's not only wrong ... but something that should be dealt with in a violent way. This is the case with xxFlarexx, who may be the most depressing person we talk about in this On Running Feud. You see, xxFlarexx has a solution to all of these homophobe's problems: "Just kiss them for the Acheivement, then when you get it punch the living hell out of them."

You read that correctly, he actually suggests that the solution is to beat the crap out of the gay kid. Before I start dropping names like Matthew Sheppard, let's just step back for a moment and understand that what he wants to do is hit on a bunch of men and then beat them up for thinking that he is interested in them. If this doesn't depress the hell out of you then I'm afraid you and I live in completely different worlds. Whatever happened to the United States being the home of the free? That freedom we talk about is not kicking the "living hell" out of somebody who is different from you, but rather the freedom to live how you choose (just as long as you're not hurting anybody else). I would suggest that this is the kind of thing that

Given the boundaries being pushed with Bully, I can't wait to see what Rockstar Games has in store for us with Grand Theft Auto IV!
you would learn in school, but judging by his statement I would guess that xxFlarexx was absent that day (and every other day, for that matter).

Thankfully there is a silver lining to this story. For every person that went on the forum using anti-gay slang and suggesting we beat up those that are different from us, there were just as many people that pushed back suggesting that they are crazy and bigoted. In fact, on some forums there was so much backlash against the homophobia that those spewing the filth were literally drummed off of the board. Even when it was only one person defending Rockstar's decision, that person generally tended to be level-headed and not dipping into the gutter like so many of the other people.

There is always a backlash when somebody does something daring and new; the truth is that almost everybody fears change in one form or another. And this won't be the last time you see homosexuality used in video games, as our interactive entertainment becomes more politically charged you should expect to see developers broach a lot of controversial topics. And that's a good thing, because not only does it legitimize our industry, but it also makes these discussions more common place. While there will no doubt be an outcry the next time this happens, it will be a little more muted and a little more civil. Eventually, hopefully, we can get to a point when suggesting that we beat up the gay kid isn't a joke any more. A point when these sorts of things are common place. I don't know about you, but that is the tolerant world I would like to live in.
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