November 11th, 2008

You’ve heard of The Uncanny Valley, right? Well, have you heard of the Lesbian Uncanny Valley? Not unless you’ve read this post from Lesbian Gamers, you haven’t. Check it out. Just like how human creations can feel real but off, so can lesbian video game characters. They write:

It’s not enough to have fake lesbians in anything, gaming included. If they come across to the viewer / player as something less than real, we dip down into the uncanny valley and it makes us feel uncomfortable. This also bleeds into the issue of the straight male creator of lesbian content. If a straight man is creating a lesbian, it won’t be the same as if a lesbian creates it and thus would probably (but not always*) fall into the uncanny valley.

These girls aren’t just talking about the difference between questionable lipstick lesbians and the real, human-and-therefore-flawed deal. They’re also talking about the little things that go wrong in games that clue us in we’re not dealing with a believable lesbian character:

Take the newly released “Fable II” as an example. In “Fable II” there are lesbians, it is clearly stated in their profile. A female player character can flirt, marry and bed the lesbian characters, a great addition to the game, but when your lesbian wife calls you “handsome” as opposed to beautiful during sex, or says “Ooh you’re so strong” you topple into the valley. Now granted some lesbian ladies might be both, but it just seems as though the character is talking to a male character which tumbles you into uncanny territory.

Their suggestion for creating better gay girls in games?

Look at characters lesbians think are cool and use bits and pieces. Think Frankendyke‚Ķ a little bit of Dana Scully, some Bette Porter, a sprinkle of Buffy Summers, some Xena and bam‚Ķ make sure you put a marker in she’s a lady lover and you’re away.

I don’t know that it’s really that simple, but it would be great to see a believable, down to earth, female gay character in a mainstream game — hopefully that doesn’t even focus on sex. Yes, I know, I of all people are calling for less sex. The irony.

Tags: female characters, queerness

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