Quickies: Civil War Revisionism, Whole Pseudoscience, and LGBT Heroes in Video Games

On February 26, 1920, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari premiered in Berlin, Germany. It’s considered to be one of the best horror films of the silent film era and credited with being the first film to have a twist ending. (The full movie is here.)


Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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  1. Gone Home! The whole narrative is centered around a coming out and coming of age story. Really fantastically done, I thought the voice acting was amazing and the setting very engrossing.

    1. Yes! Gone Home was a great game, and way too short. The game designers did such and excellent job with the story, and fleshing out characters that you never actually meet.

      1. I would have played Gone Home longer if the game had been longer but I would argue that the game was the perfect length. I’ve been getting kind of sick of games that are really long if they don’t have some brilliant game play mechanic that you don’t want to stop doing. I would love to see more story based games that are only an hour or two. The pacing was perfect in Gone Home. Games like the Last of Us (starring fake-Ellen Page so its kind of a game with an LGBT star?) were way to long to get through the story. The length of combat sections ruined the pacing. I simply didn’t want to keep shooting the same bandits and zombies over and over.

  2. I’m not sure if it’s really being inclusive, or just simple voyeurism, but Guild Wars 2 currently has a ‘romance’ underway between two of the female characters in their Living Story.There’s also a disabled teenager who rides around on a robot and the evil overlord is female.

  3. Bioware’s Dragon Age II (and possibly the earlier versions) have an open game play that could result in the playable character having a same-sex relationship, depending on the choices you made. I liked how none of it was gender-tailored, so I could construct a character and drive the narrative based on my choices and not the game developer’s biases. It’s very similar to Skyrim, although I don’t recall the Skyrim engine giving any opportunity for romantic relationships.

    1. In Skyrim it is possible to marry any one of a number of NPCs (Non Player Characters) using a Ring of Mara and after you speak to priest at the Riften temple. I don’t think there’s any gender restriction on marriage but not all NPCs are eligible. Other than that I don’t recall there being any LGBT characters.

    2. You could also have same sex relationships in Dragon Age: Origins but unfortunately your options were more limited because the four romance characters had defined sexual orientations: one straight woman, one straight man, one bisexual man and one bisexual woman (not counting characters that you could have one-off flings with). I ended up playing a male character just so I could romance Morrigan, the badass snarky atheist witch.

  4. Mass Effect 3, also by Bioware, made it possible to have same sex romances as well (You could say that the first two games do as well, but only with a female Shepard, and Liara. And I have no idea if Liara identifies as female. She doesn’t seem to mind female pronouns being used in regard to her, but her species doesn’t actually have any sex differences. So… it’s complicated there). One of the options actually builds on subtext from the first game, where a relationship isn’t possible, but there’s a lot of subtext.

  5. Both the MPAA and the ESRB censor content. If the works are being altered to avoid a rating that will dramatically reduce the works’ commercial availability then they are being censored. You have to live in a big city to have access to a theater that will show NC-17 movies. Illegal drugs and prostitutes are more commercially available than movies that don’t come the the religious right’s approval.

    1. that’s only true if someone’s developed a way to download drugs (and I’m sure the Maker community is working on it). While you can’t always go to a movie theatre and watch NC-17 movies on a big screen the rise of video on demand means you don’t necessarily have to.

      1. Yes you do! That’s not how censorship works. There are many victims of censorship, and the least harmed are the works that are censored. The damage is pretty trivial. I’d challenge you to watch “Boys Don’t Cry” and identify which bits were cut out. Unrated editions are almost indistinguishable from the rated ones. The MPAA merely makes it’s wishes known by making tiny edits. This has almost no impact whatsoever. This isn’t where the harm of censorship happens.

        Filmmakers, knowing what the MPAA is likely to cut simply don’t shoot the scenes that they know won’t be approved. That has a dramatic impact. Worse, when they do push the envelope, they have to justify it. Rape drives plots. Healthy sexuality doesn’t. There’s a lot of ways to show a loving relationship that don’t involve sex. The sharp edges get filed off of our violence and our sex gets more violent.

        Even worse, movies they know won’t ever get approval don’t get made at all, unless the filmmakers have a lot of money and don’t mind not making it back. This is where the most harm comes from. You can’t torrent a movie that never got made.

        The worst part though is that all the other, less regulated media is made in an environment where we actually believe that movies accurately reflect our culture. These people are religious bigots, and they have very disturbing ideas about what is and isn’t offensive, but they get to put their thumb on the scale without people knowing about it.

        1. We may be talking cross purposes. I was trying to address the statement that “You have to live in a big city to have access to a theater that will show NC-17 movies.” which isn’t necessarily so. Sorry, i should have attributed the quote better.

  6. It seems like an odd game to bring up in this discussion, but in Saints Row IV your lead character (who can be male or female depending on your character design) can initiate romance with any ally in the game: male, female, or in one case robot. In fact, there’s a whole class of achievements that depend on “Doing everything for” one of your allies, and “everything” includes side-missions, loyalty quests, and romance.

  7. When The Sims (I know, not a real game /sarcasm) came out in 2000 it allowed same-sex kissing and woohoo as well as moving in together, when The Sims 2 came out in 2004 you could have same-sex relationships, and by the time The Sims 3 came out in 2009 same-sex marriage was included. The Sims 4 is due out this year and I am hoping that there is even more “support” (since there was never a big deal made of these “alternate” relationships in The Sims, they just were) for the LGBTQ community. After all in a game where you can have a relationship between a werewolf and a robot (long story) you should be able to wear any available piece of clothing without a mod.

    1. I should add that I, of course, don’t think that cross-dressing is the end-all-be-all of LGBTQ support. That should have probably read “you should at least be able to wear…”

        1. You may be right (it’s been a long time since I didn’t need a number to describe the Sims game I was playing), all I remember is there was a bit of an uproar over them allowing what little happened. I guess woohoo didn’t actually happen until Sims 2. Still pretty progressive considering.

  8. Why is some pseudoscience more equal than others? Because people’s own pseudoscience ain’t pseudoscience. The dumb pseudoscience is the other person’s pseudoscience.

    You’ll always find people who say, “Oh, I don’t believe in astrology, that’s just nonsense, but tarot, well, that’s real.”

    You have your people who swear by pseudovitamins, ancient astronauts, ghosts and the paranormal, aromatherapy, applied kinesiology, Reiki and Chakras, herbalizing, faith healing, homeopathy, magnetic therapy, etc etc etc…..

    Sometimes people don’t know their woo is actually woo. They fall for it because they haven’t stopped to challenge the asserted basis for it. They haven’t looked at the source of the alleged data.

    You know, like the idea that cell phones and bluetooth cause brain cancer. Zero evidence for it, but people still believe it. The incidence of brain cancer has remained constant for the past 40+ years.

  9. Same-sex relationships have been possible in Bioware games since Jade Empire (2005). (Sort of in Knights of the Old Republic, too, but it was mostly removed.) Mass Effect 1 and 2 were actually a step back from that, since they only had it for a female character (JE had both), and they sort of tried to get out of it (since, as mentioned above, Liara’s species doesn’t work the same way).

  10. In Final Fantasy 7, it’s difficult, but you can go on a date with Barret at the Gold Saucer. (Before that, Final Fantasy 6 gave us Sabin, who has no romantic ties and is referred to as a ‘bear’ or ‘bodybuilder’.)

    Also, in Knights of the Old Republic, light-side female Revan (admittedly non-canon), and only LSFR, can form a relationship with (also female) Juhani.

    For the record, I consider Yoshi trans. Yoshi is considered male, but he lays eggs in Yoshi’s Island.

  11. World of Warcraft has two NPCs that are named Marsha Stockton and Ann Stockton, but it is obvious that they are not sisters because one is a human and the other is a Dwarf. Thus, it appears they are a lesbian couple as well as interracial, which is as politically correct as it gets in a game like that.
    One a more personal level, I have a Gnome warrior named Bichorak that I often role play as a lesbian.

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