If “sandbox mode” is one way to play certain video games, then why not “nelly fag mode”? Heroes of Newerth, the sci-fi real-time-strategy title S2 Games released in May, wants gamers to be able to enjoy world conquering in all sorts of ways. Including having the announcer sound like some flaming homo.
Players can launch the “flamboyant pack,” which changes the sound effects for certain moves, like killing an opponent. Instead of a eerie masculine “bloodlust” sound clip, players will hear, “Cherry popper,” complete with inflection. “Hat tricks” becomes “It’s a threeway.” The company man explains in this preview video the new announcer packs are “very fun, very over the top,” because players like to “win in style.” (There is also a “girly girl” announcer pack.)
Gay-Nerds.com reached out to game maker S2 to see if they have any comment about the apparent stereotyping. The company responds: “The flamboyant pack is one of many voice pack options that will be available for HoN 2.0 players. The intention of offering a wider range of voice packs is to bring a broad representation of personalities to HoN that let gamers express and differentiate themselves.”
Is this a way to offer gay players a way to “express and differentiate themselves,” or straight players a way to make fun of fags? It’s similar (but not identical) to the situation Microsoft continues to face over its bizarre censorship rules about The Gay. On the one hand, we should applaud game makers for making their products appeal to LGBT consumers. On the other hand, this is an industry steeped in homophobia, from game producers and execs to reviewers and all the way down to players. Which means any gay-ish move in the industry warrants a critical eye.
Particularly here, where S2 Games is throwing up rainbow colored text, gay sex innuendos, and a stereotypically gay lilt in this voiceover pack. Something tells me this offering had little to do with catering to gay gamers who want their announcers to sound like queens, and everything to do with giving straight players a chance to ridicule queers.