Thursday, December 23, 2010

Girls who like Girls

So, it's a bit off my usual fare, but I wanted to make a note of something that made me happy recently. I've talked on here before about how I play WoW. A new expansion has just come out and they've made quite a few changes, including making everyone get five more levels and raise their profession skills. The profession skills I picked back when I first started my character were mining and jewelcrafting. Mining is easy to skill up: just mine whatever you see. Jewelcrafting takes more time, and there is a daily quest for that profession. There are five or six different ones, and you get a random one each time you go.

The questgiver is a female blood elf named Marith Lazuria. She is stationed outside the jewelry shop in the main city (Horde city anyway). WoW gets criticized a lot for using sex to sell the game to guys, and all the criticism is absolutely justified. The female blood elves are sort of the Playboy Bunnies of the game. Gear that looks normal on other races fits them like clothing rejected by a stripper as being too provocative.

But. When I went down to see Marith Lazuria yesterday, she had a quest for me titled "A Present for Lila." She explained that she was trying to impress a female boat captain named Lila and wanted me to cut some purple gems that she was going to fashion into a necklace 'to match her pretty hair.' When I turned the quest in, Marith expressed glee that she'd now be able to turn her special lady's head, that she had a huge advantage now over a female rival in the Alliance capital, and also said something that implied Lila only had one eye (but that's sort of besides the point).

I loved it. I thought it was terrific that the game developers decided to put a lesbian NPC in the game and not make a big deal out of it. You do many similar quests to help an NPC man impress a woman, and I think a few vice versa, and they just fit this one right in. Studies have shown that WoW has a large adult player base, but a lot of teens play it too. Since many people say they value its escape from real life, I imagine that maybe some of the teens who play are questioning or working up the courage to come out and value the game as a haven from harassment. Maybe seeing this will help them.

It seems like there are so few images of gay and lesbian people just being *people*, not being campy or conforming to some stereotype, or where their gayness is an essential part of the character. Marith is just another female blood elf with an impressive rack, long hair and diaphonous dress making players run around doing her bidding. I think that the inclusion of more images like that in pop culture is an essential step towards greater acceptance. Marith's presence in the game is a reminder that everyone should do what they can to promote acceptance. Every day when I go to find out what she wants of me today, I will view her as a reminder that if the developers of a notoriously sexist fantasy game found a way to do what they could, I can too.