“Valet Hustle,” a game currently available for iPhone and iPod Touch, is novel in that its playable characters have a gay-positive backstory that is completely independent of the gameplay’s purpose. In other words, it’s about gay people doing ordinary things.
What is, however, a little tendentious and mildly exploitive is the fact the two protagonists are both lesbians – a bit of a safer demographic, I suppose, and one heterosexual men find appealing if not titillating. The characters, Ren and Akira, are anime characters kicked out of an all-girls Catholic school where the dress code is anything but conservative. A nun catches them kissing (“Again …” in the words of Ren’s father) and, following their expulsion, their wealthy parents put them to work parking cars at properties they own.
Despite the caricature of their sexuality, it’s the last part that intrigues me. You could invent any number of backstories that justify the characters’ arrival at this purpose, but the creators specifically chose the lesbian angle. And as they advance through the game, players of both orientations learn more about the characters’ lives. While I have just downloaded the game and not played it that far, I assume this is, on some level, an entry into humanizing a community that some gamers otherwise wouldn’t bother to understand.
Factory Games, the developer, is donating a portion of the proceeds from Valet Hustle’s sales to the Human Rights Campaign, committed to the cause of equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons. The game costs 99 cents and – interestingly – despite the same-sex kiss in its opening and Apple’s explosive capacity for prudery of late, it’s still up.
Valet Hustle Raises Gay/Lesbian Rights Awareness On iPhone [Game Set Watch]