Gaming in the Closet

It’s weird, the mental backflips your brain is capable of to keep you in denial of your self. Weirder still are the ways that it manifests hints that maybe not all is as it should be.

I’ve been an avid gamer since I had the hand-eye coordination to play Super Mario Bros. For as long as I can remember, when given the option in an RPG, I chose to make my hero a woman. As the genre evolved, and romancing partners became a function within games, I exclusively romanced women. Whether it was saving the galaxy from Darth Revan in Knights of the Old Republic, leading the charge as the Inquisitor in Dragon Age, or stomping Reapers in Mass Effect, I was always the adventurous, heroic lesbian. In-game, at least.

Gay space cowgirl, reporting for duty.

“There are already so many games with guy heroes” I would say to myself. “It’s just a nice change of pace.” Yet, even upon repeat playthroughs, the pace never changed to a dude hero. I would constantly imbue my heroes with personality traits of my own. “How would I treat this situation?” etc. Yet, the fact that always chose to create these stand-ins as women never properly clicked.

Most create-a-character RPGs are single player experiences, so I was always alone with my hero and her team, but last year, The Division came out, which focused largely on online cooperative experiences. Instead of selecting the usual woman avatar, I created a dude. Something about the fact that friends would see me playing the character gave me pause. I didn’t want to have to explain the choice. I didn’t even know what I would be explaining. It felt different than choosing Tracer in Overwatch, or Cami in Street Fighter. Those were characters. This was an avatar that represented me. I played it safe, ignoring the implications the whole ordeal was hinting at.

I spent decades gaming as the hero I couldn’t yet be, wilfully oblivious to the comfort the roles I took offered and what that meant. I’ve learned this is not necessarily an uncommon history for trans people who game. So, if you’re reading this, vaguely thinking “This kind of sounds like me”, take some advice from someone who has been in your shoes:

Be your own hero.

Originally posted via Medium

Ashley Cooper is a writer of film & TV. Her blog can be found <a href="https://medium.com/@ashleyjaycooper"here.

Ashley J Cooper

Ashley Cooper is a writer of film & TV. Her blog can be found <a href="https://medium.com/@ashleyjaycooper"here.

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