It's hard enough finding enough major characters who aren't white in games, let alone people who aren't straight. So it's interesting to see how 2K is handling the inclusion of a homosexual character in upcoming shooter XCOM.
As is becoming customary at the Canberra studio where XCOM is in development, 2K Marin Australia have snuck an Aussie character into the game (there was an Australian engineer in BioShock, if you remember), in this case the brilliant scientist Dr. Weir.
Working as a foreigner in the paranoid America of the early Cold War years would be bad enough, but the character is also gay.
"Weir is an Australian," says 2K's Jordan Thomas. "He's not a citizen of the States, although he came there to study particle accelerators, and already found himself an outsider on that grounds alone simply because of the paranoia of foreigners that was prevalent in the mid-century."
"But on top of that, he is also a closeted homosexual. He has both a sexual and a political opposition to the elite of the country, which are still very conservative —very focused on America as the best and the brightest—and he doesn't fit their paradigm. It is hard for them to acknowledge that one of the best scientists in the world is, in their minds, deviant. So he's struggled with that for a long time."
"But all of sudden this alien invasion hits and they need him and they have to put it aside. But then you see those tensions come to bear in the base. There are characters who don't like working with him. They are people of their time. And so you'll see different positions represented amongst the core cast. But he is —he is a man with true grit. He's able to weather it pretty well, and the player kind of gets to decide where they fall on that continuum. You can basically decide how to treat him."
It's not the kind of game you'd expect to see a stand taken for gay video game characters, especially one so "realistic" in its tone and portrayal, but it's a welcome one nonetheless.