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‘It’s super important’ games cover LGBT issues, says Pride game dev
Pride Run creator discusses inclusiveness in gaming
The creator of a Pride parade video game says triple-A games still have progress to make when it comes to offering fully inclusive experiences for LGBT players.
Ivan Venturi is project director of Pride Run, a PC game which he says translates the energy of Pride into a rhythm action experience.
Developed by IV Productions and set to be published by games retailer Green Man Gaming on Steam this fall, Pride Run certainly isn’t afraid of mixing politics with its music gameplay – it even features the likenesses of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, who players can defeat in dance battles.
Venturi said he hopes that as well as being a fun game in its own right, Pride Run will help promote inclusiveness in game communities and highlight issues still facing LGBT people.
“Three years ago I was producing a game called Riot: Civil Unrest, which is a game about fighting between police and rioters,” he explained.
“So I had this pixel art crowd in the game already and then on October 11 it was International Coming Out day and I heard young people on the radio talking about coming out to their friends and family.
“It touched me and I wondered as a game producer if I could do anything to help this process: to help give young people courage and show that there’s nothing wrong with who they are.”
He added: “I think it’s super important that games cover these issues. First of all we want to make a fun video game, of course, but also build awareness for example that there is no Pride in Moscow or Istanbul – it’s very dangerous to be homosexual in those places still.
“If we make one in five players think about that, then we’ve done a good job. I think it’s very important to promote a message of inclusion in communities that aren’t always friendly.”
Venturi thinks progress has been made in promoting inclusiveness in triple-A games, but said there’s still work to be done.
“I think Triple-A games do try to communicate some messages of inclusiveness, but it’s not complete,” he said.
“Internally when we think of LGBTQIAP+ characters in triple-A games, we are not dealing with main characters for example, but secondary plots. Today LGBT in gaming seems to be about putting one lesbian or gay character in Overwatch and then moving on.
“If we make one in five players think about this, then we’ve done a good job. I think it’s very important to promote a message of inclusion in communities that aren’t always friendly.”
“I think it’s not just a LGBTQIAP+ issue. We have a concept in the Western video game industry that the hero should be a super masculine, white male. This type of character just doesn’t fit with other markets.
“For example, last year I visited a Dubai game developer and they showed me a super cool Arab game character. If they see a marine, it puts them off. It’s the same thing in Asia.”
The project lead said he thinks it would be a “huge step” to see a major blockbuster feature a LGBT lead character.
“I’m very curious about The Last of Us 2, because it looks likely that the main character Ellie could be a gay character,” he said. “Cyberpunk 2077 too seems to offer a lot of options for different types of players.
“In cinema we have iconic LGBT movies the Rocky Horror Picture Show or Priscilla Queen of the Desert… why not in video games? Games are the most important entertainment industry today.”