Ethnicity in film is to sexuality in games
While there is no modern Hays Code equivalent in contemporary American video games (the ESRB rates but does not censor) the manner that LGBT characters are being introduced to a broader audience in major games is through this same blowback-wary method of diligent self-policing. The writers allow space for an audience member to overlook or deny the homosexuality of a particular character if that’s the way they would prefer to see things.
Game writers like Rhianna Pratchett, who has stated that part of her would have loved Lara Croft to be gay, are instead artfully presenting these characters in a manner that is more aesthetically palatable to players (and likely their concerned parents) who might find explicit same-sex love too lurid or off-putting a subject to handle with frankness in a video game.
For many years, if a film did focus on a black character, the story would generally be about that character’s experience being black, like The Jackie Robinson Story or Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and many blacksploitation films. It took time for producers, and perhaps audiences, to realize there could be stories involving non-white characters that didn’t have to revolve around their ethnicity.
I wish I had read this prior to Harper’s post. A brilliant contextualization of today’s human rights issues displayed on a canvas of modern media; ethnic tip-toeing in early 20th century filmmaking vs. LGBT tip-toeing in early 21st century video game making.