LGBTI global news 24-7

Video game writer blames ‘sales fears’ for lack of gay protagonists

Lucien Soulban, a writer for Ubisoft, says major video game franchises don’t include gay protagonists because of ‘fears that it’ll impact sales’
Screenshot from Mass Effect 3, where players can develop a same-sex romance
Screenshot from Mass Effect 3, created by BioWare

Canadian video game writer Lucien Soulban has said he doesn’t expect to see gay protagonists in major game franchises ‘for a while … because of fears that it’ll impact sales’.

Soulban works for Ubisoft and made the comments on the company blog in an interview post published on Thursday (27 February).

The openly-gay writer has worked on several big titles including Far Cry 3, Blood Dragon and Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but criticised the industry’s representation of gay characters: ‘When are we going to get a gay or lesbian AAA (high budget) hero(ine) who isn’t a one-off joke?’

Using Javier Bardem’s Skyfall character Raoul Silva as an example, Soulban said: ‘His character's sexuality was total shtick to satisfy one scene. Otherwise, he was a narcissist with mommy issues and a pedophile to boot.

‘His “seduction” of Bond was nothing more than vanity because Bond was his reflection, the new "him". So it bothers me when I hear people using his performance as a benchmark for diversity in entertainment, and I have heard it being bandied about.’

Some games in recent years, such as Mass Effect 2 and 3 and Fable III, have allowed players to decide their character’s sexual orientation, and Soulban says video game companies don’t make such a big deal about gay characters anymore: ‘They’re introducing them without much fanfare in an effort to say, “Yeah, it’s there and pretty normal.”’

Soulban also said he expects future gay video game protagonists to either be revealed afterwards, similar to how JK Rowling announced Harry Potter’s Professor Dumbledore was gay in 2007, or to ‘come out of left field’.

He added: ‘But when it happens, I hope it’s a serious take on it and not played up for jokes.’

Comment on a news story