The rise and rise of a new form of transphobia, transphobic gaming.
First off this is not meant to be a comprehensive study of transgender characters in gaming. I understand they are everywhere from Japanese anime to Second Life. This rather focuses on the big notable game makers that all the others will and have been proven to follow as an example of proof of concept to justify transphobia in gaming.
And sadly where this can take a very dark turn if unchallenged.
Transgender has value – and it is on the increase as other minorities, race, Anti-semitic and Islamophobic comedy (and similar avenues) for obvious reasons have now been closed down to all but the bravest comedians. But not so for the last tran standing!
Just when you thought it was safe to come out from behind your cushion you are confronted with a whole world of increased television transphobia, or if it is not transphobic it is tokenism, where one transgender person is thrown a bone in a television show to prove they are not discriminating. Why not four transgender people(?) – some say tokenism is worse. You do not ‘normalise a community by making them ‘special’ as that still isolates them but in a different way (AKA ‘Othering’). A bit like the only Black guy on a Star Trek episode that beams down to a planet in a red sweater – yeah he is the one who bought it (Uhura or not), television today is very much like that. It employs transgender people almost as a favour, as if to say, “Look see! Happy now?!” No! I ain’t. The day TV does not make any issue about it will be the day we move forward a step. Would you say, “HEY EVERYONE WE HAVE GIVEN A WOMAN A JOB IN A DRAMA!” Or, “Hey we have given an Asian a Job!” Maybe 40 years ago! Today Transgender people have to still be grateful for these tokenistic crumbs, and oversell their ‘transness’ to even get a hope of being on the telly. If you have to sell the transgender person in teasers as ‘obviously transgender’. A recent Boy Meets Girl teaser – lasting under 10 seconds – for the BBC Autumn Schedules has her saying she had a penis(?!), yet does a cisgender woman state she has a vagina? The other alternative is to flog them to death, “LOOK! LOOK! TRANSGENDER PERSON, LOOK LOOK!” (Bruce Jenner) Its a fail!
Gaming also takes these cues, they see the value in transgender people as the last whipping boy they can safely abuse without punishment. It is rare to hear a breast cancer joke about mastectomy on a comedy show, but common to hear a surgery joke about a transgender person who is equally suffering. However, unlike Breast Cancer, being transgender has a whole fantasy built around it that are usually sex workers, criminals, violence, low-life individuals, who are the dregs of society that are what is wrong with the world. Without transgender people the world would apparently be a far better place it seems. But we all know that trans*people are not at fault, they are just easier to blame than a faceless banker for your lot in life.
There is an even more (if that is possible) sinister creep going on that you may have until now been unaware of!
So in gaming it is worse. There are a handful of games that feature a positive gender variant warriors here and there. But the mainstream games, or ‘apps’, that are top of the downloads often feature cross-dressing as sex work. This is in what are often kid’s games really.
Back in noughties games seemed by today’s standards almost cheerful by comparison, usually because development was more skilled and the market was nothing like it is today. The offense in this instance below was rather it being in the title than the content. For example, here we have the infamous ‘Peek-a-Boo Tranny!’
PABT Just had Transgender women pop up and mock the viewer, and used as a way to mock the recipient of messages or photos. Looking back this is actually not that bad! And this alone demonstrates just how things have nose-dived in gaming to the point where murdering trans*people is actively encouraged!
PABT was taken down by iTunes following complaints and the fact it was a small developer, probably one guy, it was relatively easy to do compared with the rest in this list, some of whom are huge corporations that go unpunished such as Fox and GTA5. And at this very moment remain available as they make too much money for everyone concerned.
Lets take a look at some screenshots from Fox with their The Simpsons Tapped Out and Family Guy The Quest for Stuff. The thing is it takes a little while to unlock these characters so many may not have even spotted them. So I have done the donkey work for you.
In this instance they make a direct comment about Eddie Murphy, Eddie Murphy was allegedly linked to transgender sex workers, as have US politicians. Google it. Therefore this is transphobic. There are Jokes about being assaulted and strangled (see images below). Then we have images of Chief Wiggum from ‘The Simpsons’ who has an option of patrolling as a transgender sex worker – what else?
Family Guy The Quest For Stuff
Failed as a person results in prostitution – transgender women are failures. Looks very similar to Peek-A-Boo Tranny don’t you think?
Explains the job.
Eddie Murphy mentioned is a direct link.
The developers joke that the character has been seriously assaulted (attempted murder) whilst cross-dressed by strangulation. This may seem funny, but one visit to here or here shows it is not as absurd as it first seems. And only this week an Episode of Jerry Springer (below) here shows a transgender woman being strangled to the laughter of the audience – yes this actually happened!
Joking about these things does affect viewers, and script writers have to get their ideas from somewhere!
(Family Guy The Quest for Stuff – Peter dressed as a transgender sex worker).
Of course this is all drawn from the game if you search this site for ‘Family Guy’ you will find out where it began and that is equally problematical broadcast in the UK by the BBC.
The Simpsons Tapped Out
The sex-worker in this children’s game is cross-dressed. The character has historically used transphobic hate-crime words in episodes of ‘The Simpsons’ (search this site) Broadcast in the UK by Channel 4.
(Simpsons Tapped Out – Chief Wiggum cross-dressed as a prostitute)
Not a transgender Doctor? Or Nuclear Physicist? Nope, a Hooker again. So it is no surprise that children (and more worryingly parents) quickly get imprinted that cross-dressing is by default, kinky, criminal or about sex. Rather than about gender, and the trauma of this experienced by transgender people is soon lost in the objectification. It is to be mocked. ‘The Simpsons’ as a Television show is actually very transphobic, and regularly uses transphobic slurs – search this site for ‘The Simpsons’ for more on the Television Show and how they degrade transgender people.
If we look at Grand Theft Auto 5, a violent game that was recently released on PC (but been out for over a year on consoles) we have the not uncommon ‘wrong side of the tracks’ area of town where transgender people hang out. An episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation entitled ‘Getting Off’) used this term, I quote, “Welcome to Tranny Town, This is where the Hustlers come…” and GTA looks very similar!). Grand Theft Auto 5 is no different and can take a cue from these ‘acceptable’ traits in television, and behave in the exact same way, they learn from Television, they copy it’s rules. For the most part, transgender people in television are sex workers, or have been sex workers (Dirty Sexy Money). Or criminals (Orange is the New Black), victims, comical or Dead! CSI.
Here we have a number of rather unfortunate in-jokes, beyond the murder and mayhem. ‘Little jokes’ that the developers (probably men) giggling into their coffee as they decide what transphobic thing to add next. Here are just a few examples. I wrote a review in the forum as soon as it came out but it has since been revived due to its Windows PC release. If any of this was said on UK streets they could be arrested.
In no other sphere would this be acceptable – yet in gaming seems untouchable! Remember this game is developed in the workplace and by a company based in the UK. One must question if they have broken the law as to use such terms in the workplace could be actionable. This is not in a boy’s bedroom somewhere, it is within a company that has to follow employments rules and Acts of Parliament. Transphobic hate-crime applies to online media. As so many on Twitter have discovered when the Police knock their doors after what appears to be less insulting comments than this below.
‘Trannies’, ‘post op’ gag, misgendering, all the trans*women are sex workers, some have hairy chests, muscles and moustaches (Celebrity Juice and other comedy shows in the UK do a similar thing) to reinforce their masculinity for laughs, some look like they have already been assaulted by clients. Unbelievable.
This is a conversation reported last year by Buzzfeed in the game:
When I found and greeted a group of them, the main characters had the following things to say:
Michael: Hello, sir. I mean, madam. I mean, ~whatever~
Michael: Well, hello, Mid-op.
Franklin: Almost fooled me, (bro-she?). Almost.
Franklin: Hey, you need to keep taking your hormones!
And the trans women said the following as I creepily eavesdropped and took photos of them (remember, these quotes were intended to be funny.):
Trans woman: I don’t think the laser treatment is working!
Trans woman: They won’t let me on the ladies’ basketball league at the rec center. This is crazy! I think I’m going to sue or something.
Trans woman (on the phone): I Just wish he’d let me untuck more… I dunno if I wanna lose it forever, and he needs to understand that!
Kill the Faggot Game (2015) that encourages the murder of GLBT People
As I write this there is the rather disturbing reports that Gaming website Steam allowed (until complaints forced a take-down) this game to be uploaded.
‘Kill The Faggot’ is a shooting gallery style video game that awards points for the number of gay and transgender people players shoot dead while deducting points for any heterosexuals killed.
This is the culmination of all the above and their trickle down influence. After all, if it is OK to kill Hookers in Grand Theft Auto 5 (that has not been taken down by Steam) then why cannot these developers kill Gay and Trans people too? It is only a game right?
Gay Star News reports the following:
Online gaming website Steam have removed a controversial video game from availability after complaints were made about it’s violent homophobic and transphobic content by users.
‘Kill The Faggot’ was created and uploaded by Skaldic Games to Steam’s Steam Greenlight section which allows game developers to showcase their games and let the Steam user community decide which ones they want to be made commercially available through Steam.
Steam does not actively vet games for offensive content but developers must pay $100 to get their game onto Steam Greenlight as a quality control barrier.
The game description for ‘Kill The Faggot’ read ‘Hate gays? Want to unleash your frustration with the “LGBT” community? Well now is your chance.’
‘Murder gays and transgenders [sic] while avoiding killing straight people. Get points before time runs out.’
The game contains what Skaldic Games describes as ‘lots of fully voiced lowbrow innuendos’ which includes a transgender character shouting ‘you want to chop [off] my wiener?’ and gay men are labelled in the game ‘AIDS carriers’ to be ‘eliminated.’
Players are awarded 100 points for each ‘gay fag homos killed’ and 150 points for each ‘transgender freaks killed.’
The game was released to help publicize another game that Skaldic Games is developing and is meant to be an in-game arcade game that players can play inside the game.
Skaldic Games are claiming that the game was not intended to encourage hatred or violence towards LGBTI people but to protest political correctness in the gaming industry by making the ‘most overly offensive game possible to these idiots to prove a point.’
‘As for an apology – ain’t gonna happen,’ Skaldic Games wrote in a statement in response to their game being pulled from Steam.
‘To everyone that got overly offended. Good, that’s what we were going for. Just wait for our next game we are working on, its gonna be way more offensive as this one [sic].’
Steam did not reply to questions when contacted by GSN and have made no public statement about their decision to pull the game or whether they would allow games made by Skaldic Games to be made available to users via Steam Greenlight without vetting in future.
The game is still available for people to download on the Skaldic Games website.
Or as it is otherwise known, The ‘Itchy and Scratchy Defence to highlight ‘Tom and Jerry’ Violence as insignificant. The Simpsons have done this too, in cartoon form, cartoons that ‘The Simpsons’ watch, but could not withstand anything other than a minute of the entire programme as they are just violent and absurd with talking animals. Where this crosses the line is it actually happens in real life.
So they apparently are using existing cues in television as a proof of concept. But I argue that those original concepts are already transphobic and flawed, but due to the power and influence of these companies they are unchallenged. UK television has the same attitude. Untouchable! The BBC and Channel 4 continue to broadcast transphobic episodes of the Simpson, Family Guy and Cleveland Show after all. And some transgender people themselves no are numbing to it and almost accepting it as a foregone conclusion rather than battle against it as… well what is the point?
Gaming is a space that goes under the radar. It is on devices, parents have no idea that these things are in these games unless they play them. Apparently harmless, yet they openly joke about being assaulted as a perfectly normal thing. All are sex workers, giving the impression that this is all transgender women are fit for. And thus objectifies transgender women (in particular) with young people subliminally.
If you have a transgender person on the television as a positive role model it can all be for nothing when they turn and play these games afterwards – all their effort is undone.
For many this is the only interaction they will get with a transgender person. They can control their fate, mock and laugh at their antics. Yet it is more than likely these characters have been designed from the developers observing years of cop shows, Jerry Springer and a vivid imagination by men. Their nightmares made real and animated.
Yet how many of these developers are transgender how many would if they truly understood the pain do this? How many have ever met a transgender woman? How many would find this agreeable if their child was tomorrow discovered to be transgender? And if they did, would attempted murder of them be acceptable? It seems so!
We also spoke about this topic in This months VLOG on YouTube watch it here.