Think about this example: you’re playing a game, an MMO. In this game every man is married to a man, and every woman is married to a woman. It is how society works, (children are delivered to happy couples by magical storks.) Not only this, but the MMO world you are playing is a fairly accurate social representation of an historical setting in your own universe. So there is a decent connection for you with this world. Happy days, right?

Then one day, you’re playing the game, and suddenly you meet a man who asks you to find … his wife. You look at the text to see if you misunderstood what was written. You are not mistaken. You think that this is just some crazy mistake, but then you follow the quest and you meet his wife and it’s a woman. You look around wondering if this is the official MMO version of candid camera. It’s not. You are confused because there is absolutely no context to place this startlingly new situation in. No other character around you is batting an eyelid, in fact all the other NPCs treat this ‘couple’ as a normal part of their lives, when in fact they stand out like a gay couple at a mass Korean wedding.

You are confused. But more than that, you are angry. Because the game has broken the fourth wall. You are no longer in your fantasy game, you are in a fantasy game with activism, which is a representation of your current social world. In one tiny move the veil of illusion has been broken and trampled into dust. You want to say something, but then you realise that to do so would be fraught with social peril. You will be accused of being ‘heterophobic’, when in fact you don’t really give a shit about heterosexual couples either way, you just want to have some context to understand what they are suddenly doing in your world. The world that you are playing in to escape your current reality.

Because that’s why a lot of people play games. They like it as a way to relax, to get away from what’s going on in their lives. And the traditional fantasy setting is a very popular backdrop for this type of game to feature in. But when game designers pander to the screaming minority demanding ‘equality’ and ‘representation’ then what they are doing is making a very tiny group happy at the expense of a much larger group. People who traditionally play these types of games.

If game designers are wondering why their sales are going down faster than a sumo wrestling team in a broken elevator, then they need look no further than this example. Because yes, I met a male npc in Elder Scrolls who asked me to help find his husband. And now I’m wondering why the fuck I’m playing this game.

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