A new iPhone game, Valet Hustler, aims to raise awareness about same-sex marriage.
The company is pitching the game (App Store link) as Tetris meets Diner Dash, offering 3D arcade puzzles around a virtual car valet business.
However, the two central characters – Ren and Akira – are both gay, with their sexuality central to the storyline as players progress through the game.
“We set out to not only create a game that is an absolute blast to play with incredible visuals and top notch audio, but we also wanted to make a social statement that gays and lesbians should have the same marital rights as heterosexuals,” says CEO Andrew Littlefield.
I think it is awesome to create a game to raise awareness for marriage equality. While the back story seems incidental and unimportant to the actual game play, this decision plays an important role in helping to show people that same-sex relationships are just as normal as opposite-sex relationships.
My criticism is that the studio’s CEO equates same-sex marriage with specifically gays and lesbians. Gays and lesbians are not the only groups that need marriage equality. The language used in their description excludes bisexual, trans gender, pansexual, and genderqueer identities and orientations. By singling out gays and lesbians, the statement continues to support the assumption that one’s sexual orientation or gender identity is defined by the sex of the person one is in a relationship with, and that’s just not the case. For example, a bisexual woman remains a bisexual woman whether her partner is male or female. No matter the sex of her partner, her sexual orientation is still bisexual.
One additional note is that a portion of the revenue generated by this game will be donated to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest LGBT advocacy organisation in the United States. It’s admirable that the developers want the game to have tangible, financial impact on LGBT rights, however, the HRC doesn’t have the best track record in terms of trans gender inclusivity or racial and ethnic diversity.