Gearbox And The Gay Robot Trick

Let us first take a look at this classic DTB-excerpt from last April 22nd:

now I hope to return to some kind of semi-regular updating schedule

Yeah, I got your hopes up and I crushed them. Sorry about that. My empty promises aside, let’s blog again. Here we go!

The big hubbub during the last 24 hours has surrounded the cutT gay character in the constantly-upcoming Duke Nukem Forever. According to Gearbox there were plans to include a sidekick for the Duke whose sexual preference was to be slightly at odds with Nukem’s own. The story’s been covered everywhere since Randy Pitchford made the non-announcement and everybody’s having opinions about this non-existent character that won’t show up in a game. Whether it would have been a disaster (it almost certainly would have been) or not is sort of irrelevant now though – the character wasn’t taken out of the game during the late beta-stage or anything, but only ever existed briefly as a possible inclusion and never made it past the ideas stage. For a game that’s been in development as long as Duke Forever, I would have been surprised if “gay robot sidekick”* wasn’t brought to the table at least once.

It’s therefore odd that Gearbox has even taken the time to bring the whole thing up in the first place. PR seems to be the easy answer; get people talking about something you almost discussed having in your (probably) terrible game is a good, easy strategy to get the internet buzzing with… I dunno, excitement? Gearbox played the “gay” card because that still holds quite a lot of power in today’s gaming industry. Holy crap, a GAY character? What, in, like, a real game? The thought! Gasps everywhere, for a plethora or reasons; would it have been homophobic? Empowering? Funny? Icky? How would it have turned out if it had happened?

I don’t know. And I see no reason to care. This is a non-story entirely brought about because Gearbox are buying time since people are – again – losing interest in their vaporware. The Gay Robot story is pure PR disguised as something else and far too few gaming news outlets have called them on this. Everybody is asking “why was this cut?” when they should ask “why are you telling us this? Characters, maps, music, story elements and concepts get cut in games all the time up until release day, so why do you expect us to think it’s interesting just because this one particular item had the word ‘gay’ attached to it in mile-high neon letters? We’re forward-thinking, progressive and the word ‘gay’ does not frighten or excite us so stop your petty marketing crap on us, Mr Pitchford. Go finish your fucking game instead.”

*I used to play bass for “Gay Robot Sidekick”

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