Feminism in Gaming: Queer Baiting in Elder Scrolls with Mod Loser!

Hey there, Nasties! It’s Mod Loser, Jackie, whatever you want to call me. And I’m going to discuss the Elder Scrolls franchise from a feminist perspective. Now, most people think of the Elder Scrolls series as being fairly feminist given that it has always had gender selection, the quests have never been blocked off for any identity and that the gameplay and story is rather unaffected by the choice of your race or gender identity.

Further still, many people reference same sex marriage in Skyrim as being amazing and inspirational at the time of release. That being said, while the Elder Scrolls franchise has a fairly good track record, there are some things that need to be discussed and understood. For starters, let’s tackle the approach to Gay Marriage in Skyrim.

To be honest, it is not at all as exciting or glamorous as anyone could imagine. This stems from the incredibly shallow marriage system that exists in the game. Any NPC that can be married can be married by either sex, yes; however, there is no real emotional connection to be made. You see, these characters are willing to marry you once you do specific, seemingly random quests that barely connect to their interests at all.

This means that rather than even trying for a more story driven approach to relationships and characters, like in games such as Fallout 3, this marriage system is used as a shallow attempt to draw in queer gamers. How do I know this? Well, that would be the Press on Skyrim when it released. There was a great deal of controversy and Bethesda supposedly defending the decision under a bastion of equal rights, but the mechanic instead of feeling as though it supported queer culture, was a simple marketing ploy about as deep as a puddle.

This is genuinely bad, because it set a precedent. Companies can now add in very shallow marriage or relationship options to allow for “Queer Couples,” and manipulate that in an effort to simply sell more games. Manipulating Queer People’s desires to feel welcomed and respected in shallow ways is a cruel, and shamelessly ridiculous insult to the community.

I bring this up because other games have followed in Skyrim’s footsteps. One such example is the Call of Duty Franchise, believe it or not. In Black Ops 3, you can choose to play as a woman, and there is a love interest in the story that is female. What matters though, is that the script was not altered whatsoever, the interactions are hollow, and it was an obvious attempt to say “look at this lesbian couple in our game!” Men tend to find gay female relationships sexy, and they “gave queer people representation.”

To the COD Team, that seemed like a win-win, but instead, they only baited the queer community into a cheap manipulation of our desire for basic rights and respect.

Thanks for reading today, Nasties. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! This has been Mod Loser, Jackie, whatever you want to call me, signing off!

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