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As we all know, the inclusion of LGBT characters has been a mighty controversial topic in recent film and literature (Beauty and the Beast probably being the premier example). Some love it with every fiber of their being, while others absolutely detest the very thought of it. Now, keep in mind that I am not here to start a political firestorm nor am I here to preach my own personal beliefs regarding this, I'm simply asking the question: will the inclusion of LGBT characters decrease potential sales?

In our game, a pseudo-'90s JRPG, one of our main story writers added two consuls (of a civilization with heavy Roman influence, but with different laws), both female, married. Originally hailing from an area in which LGBT relationships are looked down upon, I was quick to note that it may be too much controversy, but it truly depends on where you live—for him it was almost completely normal.

As I see it, we have three choices.

  • We can keep the characters just as they are.
  • We can keep the characters, but only imply their relationship.
  • We can alter the relationship entirely, changing one to a male.

Right now, our main goal is to satisfy the general public while still strongly appealing to those who actually played JRPG's such as Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy back in the day. Which of these three options should we choose to best enhance our sales, or, if it's not up there, what is the wisest way to go about doing this? I am looking for facts and data if possible and/or applicable.

EDIT: Our target audience is Everyone! Like we said, we’re aiming to satisfy the general public while still appealing to those who played JRPG’s back in the ‘90s.

EDIT II: Wow. Every almost answer here contained a wealth of information, and I'd like to formally thank all that contributed. I will be using the information from just about all of these answers, and I'm sure may others facing this issue may as well.

EDIT III: If you have comments that aren’t answers or you’d like to further discuss this, please refer to the official chat room as opposed to commenting. Thanks!

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Engineer, Vaillancourt, Tim Holt, Gnemlock, Almo Sep 26 '17 at 15:11

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Sep 18 '17 at 19:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ (Please note that this also means that subsequent commentary here will likely be deleted; if you want to comment, especially if you want to respond to any of the earlier conversation, please use the above chat thread.) \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Sep 18 '17 at 23:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am late, but it hasn't been until recent years that homosexuality has been considered "ok" by large societies. Seeing a Roman Lesbian back in those days was completely unheard of, and if it was, they might have been killed. \$\endgroup\$ – The Mattbat999 Jan 4 at 16:26

15 Answers 15

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I come from a place in the Internet most people deem to be horrible in every single way. While I generally don't agree with most of the stuff said in that website, I can provide some insight on what happens around there when a pro-LGBT game is released.

  • A small but very vocal group of (probable) trolls will complain about it, no matter the way they are depicted, under the argument that it's "degenerate", "pozzed" and a thousand other descriptors usually containing the word "cuck" in them. They swear they won't ever buy the game because of these small details, and will generally attempt to derail any serious discussion about the game, but they are a really tiny percentage of the population that just happens to invade any threads made about games like these.
  • Some users, the less sarcastical version of the above, will automatically qualify whether it's cute or "degenerate" exclusively depending on whether the game was made in Japan or not. It's as dumb as arbitrary, but they are somewhat grounded in reality considering the vast majority of Japanese depictions of LGBT people is very different from the vast majority of their western counterparts.
  • Some users will only care about whether the girls and the relationship are cute and whether it comes of as preachy or not.
  • Some users will only care about whether the game presents this plot point as preachy or very "in your face". Probably the biggest demographic around these places.

Some research on Gamergate and its slow declive into the alt-right should give some light on the above positions, but the general idea is, they are tired of games being marketed on their "progressiveness", which usually tends to overinflate their scores in game journalism sites even though the games are not that good (in the case of Gone Home, some people don't even consider it a game, yet it managed to score a 10/10 in many reviews, which didn't sit well with many gamers). This resulted in an influx of games with progressive values being thrown in your face in the most preachy and obnoxious way possible just to achieve "brownie points" in attempts to replicate the success of previous games who did this, something they didn't like because it went against their beliefs and political stances. This may seem inmature, but nobody likes to feel like the games they are playing are going directly against them, so it is kind of logical to expect such an outcome.

Thing is, these gamers are very wary of these topics because they feel "stiff" and "fake", as in, so shoehorned it becomes obvious the devs are trying to virtue signal in hopes their game gets noticed by the games journalism crowd. Most of the LGBT character depictions shown on many recent games seem to default to the "accepted" representations of their gender or sexuality (how many characters would describe "strong independent lesbian woman who needs no man, is snarky towards everyone, always looks angry and has short hair", despite that description being very specific?), so many of these characters end up having the same personalities, same background and sometimes even same questlines, which to these people smells like mass produced token LGBT. The queer characters are often presented as borderline Mary Sue saints who could do no wrong, but are always wronged by (most of the time, and I think this is your game's case as well) white cishet males just because they are hateful mysoginistic beings or something like that, even when they are not. Queer people are still people after all, so they should probably have as many flaws as the non-queer people, and you should contemplate that into writing them as actual characters and not "that lesbian couple" in that game.

But people will always find a way to complain. This is a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation in which incorporating LGBT characters or not, making them flawed or not, making it an extremely secondary trait or their whole personality, making them evil or good, making them stereotypical or not, will result in outrage from certain demographics. My advice is, just do whatever you think will be best for your game without thinking of sales, reviews or prohibitions, because there are not enough cotton gloves in the world to tackle these topics without offending anyone.

If all you want to know is whether this will boost sales or not, it all depends on your target. As people mentioned before, do you want this game not o be 18 or not? Do you plan on translating it to Russian and selling it there? Do you want to target hardcore gamers who most often than not despise preachy politics in their games? If the answer to any of these is "yes", you may want to just leave it as heavily implied at best. Do you want to target fans of JRPG, who are very likely to like Japanese media in general? As stupid as it seems, your best bet is sexualizing them (people will get mad about this, but if they are outside of your target demographic, it doesn't really matter). Otherwise, if you want to target a more casual (not in a bad sense, not even as in people who only play Candy Crush on their phones - still "core" gamers, just not as fixated on videogames that take a lot of effort to play) or modern demographic, such as the people who played and liked Life is Strange, Gone Home, or Dragon Age: Inquisition, making them blatantly gay could even boost your sales.

EDIT: I remember Dofus had two NPC, a major and her secretary, named Mayor Cantille and Lou Bricante (yes, that's probably a sexual pun; game is full of them), who were very explicitly implicitly closet lesbians for each other. People talked a bit about this, but nobody seemed to care because it was cute and both girls were cute. Villagers would often gossip about it for comedic purposes. It wasn't given much relevance, and it was always treated in a very lighthearted tone -like the rest of the game-, so it simply happened to be a very secondary side story that was consistent with the setting, so I guess people simply accepted it; which brings me to the point that, if it is not a relevant plot point, just mention it in passing just like you would comment on any plot point of little relevancy.

I guess your case with the consul could be similar, but keep in mind that, depending on how directly based on Roman society the society in your game is, some people could complain about lack of realism (yeah, even if otherwise your game contains dragons and magic crystals). While ancient Rome didn't really treat homosexual relationships much differently to heterosexual relationships, they did treat women, and whoever they deemed to fulfill the role of the woman in a relationship, as inferior. I am unsure how would have ancient Rome reacted to a masculine lesbian consul, considering information on lesbians in ancient Rome is scarce, but chances are she would have stood no chance against other male politicians.

To avoid these complaints, either try to show (don't just tell!) in which ways this society distanced itself from our ancient Rome, and try to justify how could this happen, and of course, what could the possible reactions to this be, or just treat it in a consistent manner (if it isn't something people usually accept, why would they be telling anyone but people they utterly trust?).

Part of why people disliked the transsexual character in Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear is because they were out of place. It's already weird enough to bump into a stranger and casually start talking about stuff, so don't make it any weirder by talking about personal stuff most people have no bussiness knowing. This, combined by the fact that it just comes out of the blue (shoehorning), that the universe has genderbending magic that's apparently not in play here (inconsistency), that the topic isn't relevant at all to the plot or worldbuilding at al (virtue signaling at its finest), and that it's one of the only dialogues that doesn't let you any agency at all on how to react to this (which comes out as inconsistent, preachy and gives the impression Mizhena is above other characters just because she is trans) made several people, including trans people themselves, angry about the inclusion of just a token LGBT character for the sake of having a token LGBT character, above the normal rules of the world and dialog mechanics.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Sep 20 '17 at 13:51
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It's not as easy as saying: "Lesbian couple in the game = ± x% copies sold".

Just like with most things in game development, it's not the idea which matters, but the execution. When you write LGBT characters into your game, there are many things which can go wrong:

  • You can portray them as ridiculous clichés, offending LGBT people and LGBT allies. A common mistake is to write a homosexual character completely around their sexuality. Remember that sexuality is just one of many aspects of a well-rounded character.
  • You can overuse them as a vessel to hammer down some sociopolitical message which doesn't fit into your overall narrative. Don't get me wrong. Having some message in your work is usually a good thing. But coming over as too preachy can be bad and offend those people who disagree with the message. See also Weaving VERY IMPORTANT OPINIONS into a story without murdering it on Writers Stackexchange.
  • It might not fit into the story. Ancient Rome was a very patriarchal culture. There were no female consuls and no lesbian marriages. You aren't writing how close your fictional culture is to its ancient roman inspiration. The closer you are to the original, the more anachronistic these characters will feel to the player. If you just want to write them in because you want to have a lesbian couple with a position of authority and not because they actually work in the setting and the story, it will likely be detrimental.

But there are also many things which can go very right. Video game writing was always suffering from overusing shallow stock characters. Just recently have we discovered that the medium can tell much deeper stories with much more complex characters than we thought. If you want to contribute to this development, then daring to add more diversity to your cast of characters is a first step.

For further watching I recommend this video by Extra Credits: Sexual Diversity - How a Queer Character Made Persona 4 Great.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Sep 19 '17 at 2:30
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I have some numbers, though they're for a web game, which might not apply to your market.

Back in 2012, I wrote a game called Farm & Grow. It featured little people wandering around a farm and occasionally one of them would get married. The game made no distinction regarding gender; I was writing for a game jam and didn't really have time, but also having no gendering appealed to me. The first character was named after the players Kongregate id, if they had one.

There were a few players who became extremely upset because they married a man. They posted their outrage in the game comments, personal messages and bug reports. A moderator has removed them now. 22 Kongregate users were added to my mute list.

I inspected the high scores for 22 users who I muted. 19 had researched the entire tech tree; effectively completing the game. Turns out most homophobic bigots claiming they are greatly offended will play your game anyway.

Assuming that the 3 complaining players who didn't complete the tech tree did so because they quit the game in outrage:

Most players don't write comments. I had 241670 gameplays and nearly 1200 comments (including the deleted ones). So 1 commenter per 200 players, perhaps. Multiply that by 3 gives approx 600 players who were so outraged about same-gender marriage that they quit the game, or about 0.25%.

A sample of 3 players is too small to base any decisions on. However I feel that you lose an insignificant number of players by including LBGT content.

I used mochi analytics in addition to the Kongregate api; 90% of my players were from America, 8% from Europe, and 2% from the rest of the world.

Edit - this isn't a valid statistical analysis, because of the small sample size and sampling bias (among other flaws). Interpret the numbers as you will, but this is anecdotal evidence, not proof.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Sep 20 '17 at 13:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ These stats are too small and too many assumptions are (or aren't) being made. For example, what if anyone that was so outraged they quit the game over the LGBT factor would always leave a comment, because of this outrage. That changes your number to 3 total players. What if people with these views tend not to leave comments, now it could be thousands. \$\endgroup\$ – Tom.Bowen89 Sep 25 '17 at 15:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JoshPetrie, re-posting my comment as it's not a discussion but a comment on this answer and its flawed method of analysis: Did it occur to you that perhaps only the outraged players who were heavily invested in the game bothered to comment? How many players total didn't complete the tech tree? An unknown percentage of those quit because of the LGBT content and didn't bother to say so. This is a form of sampling bias; I'm not disputing or agreeing with your conclusion, but your analysis methods are faulty. \$\endgroup\$ – Wildcard Sep 26 '17 at 4:03
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There's no such thing as bad PR. While not universally true, it certainly does apply to indy games with a rather low projected number of sales. This kind of controversy is the best thing that could happen to you, because it's free advertising, spreading the name of your game. Which is also the sole reason that Beauty and the Beast story you linked exists.

But realistically, you're probably too late to create controversy. After Baldur's Gate and Mass Effect, nobody cares about LGBT characters in RPGs anymore, unless they're horribly written.

Regarding numbers, you're out of luck. Sales numbers are difficult to compare, and you're asking about a very specific feature in a very specific genre of games, when the gaming industry to date still can't even quantify something comparatively far simpler like the lost/gained sales due DRM vs DRM-free.

P.S: There is an exception! If for some reason your game gets banned from one of your main target markets due to LGBT characters, that's obviously rather bad for sales. I heard Russia and some other countries are rather strict on homosexuality, but I don't know if they ban games that include it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Sep 20 '17 at 13:51
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Games sell because they're good, not because they have X or Y

Your game sales will most likely have nothing to do with the sexual orientation of your characters. What will matter to the players is how developed the characters are and how realistic they feel.

If you make a character that is (insert some stereotypical LGBT character here) then you will most likely hurt your sales. Not because you included someone from the LGBT community, but because you did not give enough thought to the character.

Character development is more important than what the characters symbolize

  • Your characters need to have needs and wants, not just be a certain type of person.
  • They need to have individual stories, history, stuff they like or hate because of what they lived through or how they think about the world they're living in.
  • They need to have room for development and not to be set in stone. If they're that kind of character then they will become boring sooner or later. If they change as your story goes on, e.g. the high priestess is killed by a demon so the newbie priest in your party now hates demons with a passion, then they will be more interesting.
  • You also need to be able to advertise this to the outside world, to the people who have never heard about your game, without giving away too much but giving enough to get them interested, or hook them with a juicy bait.

If you manage to get half of this right, you will have a decent game. If you manage to get all of it right, you will have a gem.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I totally agree here. We’re putting massive amounts of time in to develop our characters—even our secondaries—solely for the purpose of effectively telling our story. \$\endgroup\$ – ND523 Sep 18 '17 at 12:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm picturing that newbie priest as Eren from Abridged On Titan, saying, "demon demon demon demon demon demon DEMON DEMON DEMON" and then getting wrecked by the first demon he meets \$\endgroup\$ – Nic Hartley Sep 18 '17 at 16:45
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There is a very highly rated point-and-click game from 2000 called "The Longest Journey." Two minor characters are lesbians, and one of them talks at length about their relationship--not graphically, but still. It's kind of amusing because the one who does most of the talking has a beautiful voice and a British accent, and she's the femme. When the partner is finally introduced, she has short hair, a manly voice with a different (Southern U.S.?) accent, and is wearing overalls, from what I remember.

Anyway, the point is that I'm straight and didn't find it offensive or forced. Their little story was pretty funny and added some color and realism to the game. That was 17 years ago, and the LBGT content didn't seem to hurt the game's popularity. Ultimately, it probably depends on the skill of your writers.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is one of the most relevant answers to my question. Two relatively minor lesbian characters. And Dang, 2000?! I’d’ve thought that’d cause more controversy than you’re describing. \$\endgroup\$ – ND523 Sep 22 '17 at 3:19
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So, I'm actually queer, and the question about weather including LGBT stuff in your game will affect sales put a really bad taste in my mouth.

My opinion is that you should. I have an obvious bias here.

I can't give you hard numbers, but I can tell you that including LGBT stuff in your game will get you at least a few die-hard fans. I've seen hundreds of posts in the queer circles I hang out in about how important it was for queer people, especially kids, to see representation in media.

For me, that important representation was the movie Heathers. I've watched it at least 5 times (I've lost count at this point), and I will happily recommend it to anyone. Aside from being one of the only movies I know of with a bisexual lead, it's also a great social commentary, the predecessor to the runaway success Mean Girls... I could go on for days.

As a non-personal example, here's a lovingly compiled list of lesbian movies.

Now, these people probably won't boost sales much in the first few days after launch, but they will most definitely increase your long-term sales. A week or a month or a year after launch, a person like me, starved for content that includes queer characters and themes, will buy your game based on a friend's recommendation. It will end up in lists of queer games. It will get talked about on the hundreds of queer communities across the web.

Note that this is REGARDLESS OF QUALITY, by the way. A better game will have better sales after launch, but there are always people willing to try a game or a movie or whatever regardless of its reviews because it has LGBT/queer stuff in it.

Also, check out Life is Strange and its community for a good example of all of this.

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To a certain extent, yes, it will affect sales of your games. Even if you do it right, by depicting the characters as not only human, but also fallible, and not always a victim, and keep such themes in proportion to the intended primary themes of the game, you will, if your game receives any press at all, encounter some games journalist who will blow the entire character out of proportion. This may shift public perception of your game towards a "LGBT romance" theme, with several effects:

  1. You may pick up customers who purchase the game thinking LGBT themes are stronger in the title than they actually are, who may be disappointed by the relatively narrow span of attention received: They just bought an LGBT game, after all, and it ended up being a JRPG!
  2. You may lose potential customers who simply aren't interested in romance subplots in their games in general. They don't want to buy a romance game, after all, they just want a good old-fashioned JRPG like those of their youth, after all.
  3. You may lose conservative customers who do not wish to fund what they perceive as propaganda.
  4. You may lose more moderate conservative customers. Even if such a customer would ordinarily be okay with moderate and realistic LGBT themes in a title they're playing for themselves (say an M-rated title like Skyrim or a Bioware title), you should keep in mind the particular niche you're targeting: if you're genuinely trying to aim toward a nostalgia theme, part of the fun of nostalgia is sharing what you played as a kid with your own children, and by adding LGBT themes in the title you will put those adults in a situation where they cannot in good conscience share that experience with a child---nullifying the very purpose of your title to this class of customer!
  5. You may pick up sales from those who will never play your title, but purchase it as a means of advancing their vision of social justice.

All in all, I see very little advantage in placing LGBT themes in your title. Those customers gained via point (1) will likely be disappointed, yielding short-term benefit but little in the long-term, whereas you will likely lose some customers due to (2) and (4), and may permanently lose a subset of customers via (3). About the only measurable advantage is that controversy is free advertising, and you may, if you are lucky, end up inundated with social justice sales (5). But it's a tremendously risky strategy, and essentially costs you the soul of your game.

Alternatively, simply place the content with enough subtlety that neither journalist nor child will detect it; to avoid detection by the former, one may simply place such themes after the tutorial, but avoiding detection by the latter may require some exemplary writing talent.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Exactly!! Yes, it’ll be rather subtle. I’m not here to hammer down sociopolitical messages. \$\endgroup\$ – ND523 Sep 24 '17 at 1:20
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Everyone is pussyfooting around the answer and posting some ridiculous opinion pieces when the answer is extremely simple: yes, it will detract from possible sales.

There are entire COUNTRIES which will ban such a game on basis of it "promoting homosexuality". There are entire cultures where users would be shamed for playing such a game, or literally put in risk of gruesome death if it was found out they were playing a game where a character is gay.

And most importantly, just because you include some gay characters will not make your game sell better. Gamers don't care about social causes in their games, they care whether the game is good or not. So you can only lose, never really win.

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    \$\begingroup\$ ... Mass Effect 1-3? The Witcher? Skyrim? ... all had at least optional, explicit LGBT sex scenes, this was widely publicised, and I find in inconceivable that any of them lost any sales through this. \$\endgroup\$ – AnoE Sep 21 '17 at 12:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ The countries that would ban such a game are not especially profitable countries to sell games in anyway (e.g. Russia, which is known for rampant piracy). Positive publicity generated in liberal countries could easily outweigh the effects of such a ban. \$\endgroup\$ – Kef Schecter Sep 21 '17 at 15:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AnoE I don't recall that ocurring in Skyrim? What part of the game had that? I'm pretty sure all possible spouses were of the opposite sex to the main character and there was little to no sexual content. I'm aware there was a mod that changed that, but as far as the default game itself goes I do not recall encountering anything like that. \$\endgroup\$ – Pharap Sep 22 '17 at 22:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pharap, then just take the other two examples. \$\endgroup\$ – AnoE Sep 23 '17 at 6:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AnoE - uh, the backlash was pretty big for ME. Also none of those games had a preprogrammed forced gay main character. \$\endgroup\$ – Davor Sep 24 '17 at 14:36
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Well, I presume you could include a setup option that includes/excludes possibly controversial features, perhaps with defaults guided by the player's age, or (better yet), oriented by actions taken by the player while playing.

Such an option would allow you to opt out of taking sides, which might be what you really want, as you'd not want to enter the any particular reality distortion field (RDF). If anything, as a game designer, your task is to exploit the players own RDF.

But I am presenting this technical option to show you a mirror, so you can see that it comes down to what you (really) want with the game. Try make the best game! That LGBT reality distortion field could be a very effective ingredient of an excellent game, a force, while at the same time teaching about preaching, without taking sides.

Experiencing reality, that's what games are for ;)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Classifying LGBT people as "optional" is taking sides. Do you not see how that's offensive? "Hey, if you don't like black people, here's a toggle in the options menu to delete them from the game." \$\endgroup\$ – Acccumulation Sep 23 '17 at 3:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ I could only name one example of a game which had a toggle for including or ommitting a part of the story people might find controversial. That was Hotline Miami 2. It was about a rape scene. \$\endgroup\$ – Philipp Sep 23 '17 at 9:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also watch out for the assumption that queer identities are an "adult" theme that you might want to put behind an age gate. Many people report knowing that they were homosexual, bisexual/plurisexual, trans, non-binary, or other queer identities at a very young age, and a lack of representation in kids' media can make that incredibly isolating, feeling like you're the only kid who's this way, that you're "broken." QUILTBAG-inclusive children's books exist, so there's no particular reason it can't be in a game played by younger audiences. \$\endgroup\$ – DMGregory Sep 23 '17 at 12:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Acccumulation : It is actually more of a middle-of-the-road approach compared to either of the alternate extremes, which is forcing the player to experience something or denying the player (forcing them to not experience something). Going either way could be "offensive" for the side favoring the opposite way. If more games had options to enable representation of strong conservative religious communities purified of any vocal LGBT, that means such an option could be used to "delete" that from the games; should conservatives be offended (rather than just happy having any representation)? \$\endgroup\$ – TOOGAM Sep 23 '17 at 20:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Philipp medal of honor had an option to skip the level where you walk through the airport killing everyone. \$\endgroup\$ – user106170 Feb 28 '18 at 19:41
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The inclusion of LGBT characters will not harm your sales so much as botched inclusions of LGBT characters. The only massive brouhaha regarding this topic is that a number of developers seem to use this as an excuse to break the rules of good writing (in a lazy, not artistic way).

To illustrate my point, I'm going to look at two characters from the Borderlands series, who are LGBT but were handled vastly differently by their creators. Tiny Tina is one of Borderlands's most loved characters. She's a sadistic 13 year old demolitions expert who uses lots of 'ghetto slang' that would stereotypically be associated with African Americans (the character is white) and mixes this with stereotypical little girl behaviours too.

Her mixture of childishness and sociopathy is the main source of humour in scenes and missions where she is involved. Despite this she can also be sweet and caring, and have some genuinely deep moments. The fact that she is LGBT is given away only in fairly natural comments that you might expect an immature person to make, which again fits into her nature. This is good character writing, LGBT or not.

Contrast this with Janey Springs from Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. From what this game gives us, Janey is a lesbian mechanic who, at the beginning of the game, somehow gets stranded even though she should have access to a quick-travel station (these are actually part of the series's canon, and not just gameplay elements), and her partner is eaten. That's it.

This wouldn't be an issue if the game didnt spend such a long time hammering the point in that she is a lesbian or even if she acted the remotest bit upset about her partner being eaten, but the game wants you to focus less on that and more on the fact that she is a lesbian. This is amplified further if you play as Athena, where she will hit on your character repeatedly despite Athena actively blowing her off at times. It most certainly doesn't help that the game makes another Borderlands classic character completely break character and talk about the immaturity of referring to the 'friendzone' (This character's entire personality is immature masculinity, and is also the source of humour for most of his scenes). This is what you get for the first 30 minutes of the game after the intro mission, and it's a drag to the point where I wanted to turn off the game.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This does not add to what has already been said... \$\endgroup\$ – Vaillancourt Sep 26 '17 at 12:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ I didn't downvote this answer, but I think that the core of it is that bad story writing happens everywhere and always. The conclusion would be that if including LBGT characters would indeed facilitate bad story writing it should be avoided or at least carefully examined, but I don't think it does really. For example, one could have easily a non-LBGT person dwelling on his/her being non-LBGT without any apparent value to the story as well. \$\endgroup\$ – Trilarion Sep 26 '17 at 12:33
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One of the problems of LBGT games (or propaganda, for some games) is: People don't care unless they are pissed or angry.

For example, let's say Overwatch, where one of the characters is lesbian just because the authors want to. It's not vital to the story or relevant, it's just forced for please some specific group. In Overwatch exists a gorilla, is it gay? Is it straight? Who cares! It's the same with the rest of characters may be some has some straight story but it's not something relevant.

So, unless you are doing a social game, then you must be subtlety and elegant, not about the LBGT character but about everything that is not relevant.

For example, a good example is Utena (an anime), is the main character lesbian? I don't know, but I'm ok with whether she is or not.

Anyways, gays in JRPG aren't a novelty idea at least for the Japanese version of the games such as Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy and such.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer sounds more like a rant. Can you provide any references or research to back up your point that "people don't care"? (As it seems people care about this topic quite a bit). \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Sep 18 '17 at 20:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelHouse, I think this answer is an emotional version of the various comments describing how (the commenters) hate having it "shoved down their throat." It could be written better, but it's not a rant. It's just making the point that unless the sexuality actually relates to the story, it will come off as "preachy" or irritating. \$\endgroup\$ – Wildcard Sep 19 '17 at 2:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ To be honest, I find this answer homophobic. It makes it sound as if somewhere in the game it said, "By the way, she's a lesbian. LESBIAN LESBIAN LESBIAN!!" But as far as I know she just has a girlfriend in a comic. Having a significant other does seem relevant in that story (it establishes what kind of life the character leads when she's not fighting), and if it were a boyfriend, you wouldn't be complaining. The comic isn't treating gays and straights differently, YOU are. \$\endgroup\$ – Kef Schecter Sep 20 '17 at 0:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with @KefSchecter here. I mean, this is Overwatch, where one of the characters is [abandoned in Antarctica | from the moon | a member of a gang | an Olympic athlete]. Why is any of these character details more or less relevant than their having a girlfriend? I can't stand these moon-creatures being "shoved down my throat!" \$\endgroup\$ – Jimmy Sep 20 '17 at 1:35
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What ever you do, people will find problems with it.

I would say that the question of How is way more important than the what or if. You can go for content that is not political and do very well. Just put it in there without the rethoric from politico-ideological groups. The few that will find it wrong or dislike it will not alter your game sales. If anything, they will help you. if the content is trying to preach something, many moderate people will dislike it. That will be bad for business.

Oh, and if it is Lesbian content with no political bullshit, you will win over even the childish trolls that would hate it.

The only ¨sin¨ would be to put male on male content as the main part of the game, as something players can not avoid or choose. Thisi s just how guys are...

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In my opinion, I don't think most people "hate" LGBT characters, there is a very vocal minority angry about LGBT characters in games, or even when games choose women protagonist over male, or things like that.

What I don't like is when devs use LGBT characters as a selling point, as if they need to put them as a diversity token. One example of that is a transgender NPC in Mass Effect Andromeda. She basically tells you "Oh, hey there! I'm a girl but I used to be a dude: my name was Dave!" and, as far I know, dead names for trans people is like a big deal.

In the other hand, you have Tracer, I really liked how Blizz managed her homosexuality since they just put her with her girlfriend there, she was not there like "Hey, my name is Tracer and I have a girlfriend. YES, I'M LESBIAN".

So, if you ask me, I don't think most people mind LGBT characters, there is a vocal minority hating them because they think there is some kind of LGBT conspiracy to destroy straight people, so don't be afraid of making your characters whatever you like.

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This is an opinion based answer, but as I don't believe anyone here has direct research information about this topic, here I go anyway.

I would start at looking at the two groups you are interested in.

  • Those who would buy a game because of the LGBT characters
  • Those who would buy your game if not for the LGBT characters

First off, your game has only two female married characters. You do not say how essential these characters are for the overall story, but my impression is that they are minor characters. So how could this affect sales?

first off, who would buy the game because of the LGBT characters

As a gay man myself, I might feel like I had an extra reason to buy a game, if I felt that it had characters that I could relate to. But I can't see how I could even know about two minor(?) characters before actually playing it. It might make me more inclined to buy a sequel though. Other things, like a good story, and exciting gameplay would be more important, though I always enjoy feeling included. When it comes to lesbians, I would be completely indifferent if it came to sexual depictions or romance, but it would work if it revolved around the small daily efforts one has to endure, due to being a minority. Male on male romance would be awesome though, but even then it had to be characters I could in other ways relate to. Demographically, people's sexuality are about 4% in the direction of same sex. There are countless studies about this number, varying in great difference. I take my numbers from pornhub statistics, which I believe is the most likely to be accurate. LGBT demographics are evenly distributed all over the world, and also gamers. You could also argue that female on female sex traditionally sells well among my straight male counterparts.

Secondly, who would not buy the game because of the LGBT characters.

Here again, there are a lot of factors. For instance, is this a game meant for children, or adults? If it is meant for primarily children, you could risk that it would get an unnatural adults-only rating in Russia, depending on the significance and graphic content of the two women. The beauty and the beast was not banned in Russia, it was only set to have an 18 year age limit. If the game is meant for adults, I believe they would, like me, not even know about the characters before they bought the game. Some might be offended by them, which is more likely to happen on a personal basis, and maybe affect sales of sequels. Any kind of organized outrage in media or similar would probably not happen, unless the characters were significant.

Lastly, who would not care

Most people who did not time travel directly from 1990 or before. We have all seen the inclusion of LGBT characters in countless mainstream games and tv-shows. It is fortunately not shocking to most people that gays exist anymore. The most popular TV-shows all have LGBT characters, at least as long as the cast is big enough. This includes The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Modern Family and countless others. They all include several both minor and major characters, both toned down, and flamboyant. The thing they have in common, is great writing, and great stories.

In ultra religious countries, like Saudi Arabia, I do think it could lead to the game being totally banned. But then again, so could depiction of alcohol, non-covered women in general, or any other religion besides Islam.

If I in any way thought that my story would be better because of LGBT characters, I would definitely include them. If sales are the most important thing about your game, there might be a few demographic issues to watch out for. The likeliness of sales being affected by two minor characters is probably unnoticable, unless you have a very specific target demographic that frowns upon even small amounts of LGBT content.

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