The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) are celebrating their 30th annual Media Awards. They are also celebrating the first time that video games have been recognised within the awards, with previous awards only showcasing other forms of media such as film, television and literature.
This morning GLAAD unveiled their 5 nominees for the category of ‘Outstanding Video Game’, a list that includes a recently controversial game that required GLAAD to make a separate statement about its inclusion.
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
Certainly a controversial game for this list, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey released late last year and received a lot of praise for how it allowed your character to participate in any relationship you want, permitting both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. This meant you could shape your characters sexuality and really have the freedom to play the game how you wanted. Unfortunately a recent DLC for the game stripped that power away from you, instead forcing you into a heterosexual relationship that brought about a child. LGBT+ fans were upset that for the first time the game had forced their character to engage in a straight relationship, betraying the freedom that was sold to them earlier. Ubisoft then recently came out and said that they would change the controversial DLC to attempt to heal the damage they had done. GLAAD released a separate statement to coincide with Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey’s nomination that you can read in full here.
“Our decision to nominate Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is ultimately rooted in the understanding that progress can sometimes be messy. While undoubtedly marred by its DLC, the original game remains a major step forward for representation in games—one that was courageously undertaken and defended by Ubisoft initially. If we want to encourage developers and publishers to continue to make these types of bold moves in the future, we must allow for growth, acknowledge that missteps do occur, and give proper credit where credit is due.”
The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset
Also nominated for the awards is the Summerset expansion for The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) which released last year. According to GLAAD, “Among its wealth of new content, Summerset introduced a questline in which the player helps a transgender woman reunite with her estranged twin sister. The story is a heartfelt tale of familial bonds, coming out, and acceptance.”
Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire
Another expansion for an MMORPG makes this year’s nomination list with Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire expansion. In this latest expansion “players will encounter LGBTQ characters both major and minor, making LGBTQ identities feel like a natural and vital part of the world.”
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
The forth nominee for ‘Outstanding Video Game’ is Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. When Deadfire released it was pretty clear that player choices and freedoms were a big priority for the development team. Similar to Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, it allowed the player to freely pursue romance options with a wealth of LGBTQ characters found within. GLAAD has nominated the game because “the player character has the opportunity to enter relationships with same-sex characters and even influence party members to pursue same-sex relationships.”
The Sims Mobile
The last nominee for this year’s GLAAD awards is The Sims Mobile. It’s the most recent release in the incredibly popular Sims series and much like previous games, it allows players to form relationships and marry whomever they like. “The Sims franchise has long been a beacon of representation through player agency, allowing LGBTQ players to express and sometimes discover their identities safely in a virtual environment. Bringing this game to a much wider audience through mobile platforms is a significant step forward for LGBTQ representation.”
How do you feel about the list of nominees that GLAAD has chosen to recognise? Do they reflect your own personal thoughts on the industry or would you have chosen different titles?