Not every fighting game is the same, but the characters tend to be; in a genre known for little more than Excuse Plots, if the characters weren’t stereotypes, they wouldn’t have any noticeable personality at all. An upcoming indie game hopes to give those same old character types a new twist—in the Ultimate Gay Fighter.
Gamer Michael Patrick came up with the idea when joking around with friends; in an advance press release for the game, he said, “The concept was simple: to reenact the favorite fighting games we played as kids, but to insert gays as the characters, with moves that suited their specific lifestyles and interests. I began thinking…‘Why isn’t this real?’”
There have been characters that are or can be read as LGBT in fighting games before—Poison from the Final Fight series is either MTF or a transvestite, depending on the translation—but they’re rarely opponents to be taken seriously and their queerness is never a source of strength. As the idea of Ultimate Gay Fighter as a real game began to form in Patrick’s mind, he realized something about LGBT media representation: “We are the sickly ones, your sassy best friends, the funny ones, the ones who sing, and the ones who decorate your house, style your clothes, and do your hair. We are never the kick-ass fighters, the bad-asses who rescue you and save the day. And if we are, we are washed with heterosexual personas and mannerisms.”
Some LGBT gamers and allies might object to Patrick’s choice to use gay stereotypes instead, but every one of the ten fighters—from Bardwell, the muscular “king of the leather bars,” to Jacqlyn Daniels, a party girl who has “a lust for booze, blood, and bisexuals,” can hold their own in a brawl.
Each character has their own unique fighting moves, specialties, and finishing “Gaytality.” Pole dancer Gogo Gary, for example, involves his (metal) pole in many of his moves, and his preferred method of finishing someone off is via tanning bed—which he uses to set them on fire.
No fighting game is complete without its villains, and Ultimate Gay Fighter has a trio of them: a preacher, a politician, and an ex-gay man. Together they make up the League of Self-Righteous Zealots—LOSRZ, for short.
The game description on the official Facebook page says, “The first annual Gay Fight competition was held in 2007 to find America’s most ruthless LGBT fighter. The contestants were narrowed down to the ten strongest, and the tournament took place in the fighters’ hometowns and local hangouts. The victor was muscle queen porn star Josh Maxx, but only three days after his title was won, he vanished.
“Now, ten new fighters are competing to win the title of Gay Fight champion. Little do the fighters know, there is something very ominous about the competition itself.”
Despite the claim on the game’s website, Ultimate Gay Fighter is at least a few years too late to be “the world’s first ever gay video game,” but in a genre that’s all about strength, it’s good to see some acknowledgment that being LGBT is not for the weak.
The game is scheduled to be released on iOS and Android in January 2014.