Steve - picture archive
Steve - picture
about this site
blog
resume
resume
interesting clips
archive
archive
the china chronicles
nlgja
childrens story
gallery
guestbook
contact me
 
     

Jan. 28, 1999

Videogame's Cheap Shot

by Steve Friess

Alabama housewife Gwen Bentley was shocked when she heard her 10-year-old son exclaim that he had blown the "gay guy" to bits with a bazooka.

Her son was playing Deer Avenger, a US$20 ideogame that turns the premise of the game Deer Hunter around. Instead of humans stalking deer, the Deer Avenger player takes the role of the venison and hunts down stupid people. One of the quarries is Tree Hugger, a lavender-clad sprite who runs through the forest flailing his wrists and pointing out rainbows. A sample Tree Hugger call: "Does anyone want to see my nipples?"

Tree Hugger bothered Bentley, who read about the brutal October slaying of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard. "I just thought about the recent violence and said, 'Is this something our kids should be seeing?'"

Some gay-rights groups are asking the same thing. "There's nothing mentioned about sexuality, but they are classic gay stereotypes," said Loren Javier, interactive media director for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Javier said GLAAD has never dealt with a case of possible homophobia in computer games and admitted he found himself amused by Deer Avenger. But he speculated that some folks may be sensitive because there are so few representations of gays in games. To be sure, Tree Hugger's designers insisted they didn't mean to portray him as gay -- he's just granola.

"This is a parody of environmentalists," said Simon & Schuster Interactive's Jeff Siegel, who created the game with Late Night with Conan O'Brien writer Brian McCann. "It never even entered our minds that it could be perceived this way."

Still, it's hard not to see gay stereotypes in Tree Hugger when he says lines like: "I feel like King Special, ruler of Specialness Valley."

"Puleeze! The guy is as queer as Boy George!" wrote David Warner-Gammick in an email. Warner-Gammick and his gay partner David said their 12-year-old son also pointed out what he called "the flaming little blond guy with the flower in his mouth."

So far, no one's up in arms about Deer Avenger. The game is full of other caricatures, including inbred hillbillies ("Well, gotta go find my sister!"), arrogant New England yuppies ("I love to exploit migrant workers!"), and sexist white trash ("I've seen better shots in the WNBA!"). The humor helped to vault the game into the PC Data Top 10 and could spawn a sequel. Siegel pointed out the box states the game isn't suited for young kids anyway. Javier said he's planning to write a blurb mentioning the game for this week's GLAADAlert, a bulletin sent out Thursdays to about 80,000 recipients. He said he won't condemn it, but will bring attention to it as something that "might offend people."

###

Go to list of Wired stories

Go to list of Publications


about this site | blog | resume | in the news | important clips | archive | podcast
the china chronicles | nlgja | children's story | gallery | guestbook | contact me