Waymon Hudson

A Stonewall Riot Video Game?

Filed By Waymon Hudson | June 15, 2008 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Media, The Movement
Tags: Stonewall Riots, video games

I'm really not sure what to make of this, Projectors.stonewallbrawl.jpg

Under the title "Celebrate Pride with 'Stonewall Brawl'," Gaygamer.net reports:

Gay cartoonist Eric Orner (The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green) and Jay Laird of Metaversal Studios will be releasing an online Flash game to coincide with this year's Gay Pride Celebrations in NYC and SF. The game is called Stonewall Brawl and is based on the historical Stonewall Riots that gave birth to the Gay Rights movement. The gameplay hearkens back to the old side scrolling brawlers like Streets of Rage and Ninja Gaiden (early titles for the game included "Streets of Drag" and "Ninja Gayden"). Orner and Laird hope that the launch of the game will educate younger LGBT folks on the events that led to the whole reason we are able to celebrate Gay Pride today.

More after the jump...

I'm all for reaching a new generation, but this video game makes me a bit uncomfortable. There are few details given about the game, but the screen shot looks a bit suspect to me.

For one, it appears there is no diversity in the characters- no women, black people, or trans people. Taking the diversity out of Stonewall seems to be a common theme when it comes to historical looks at the riots. Our own Reverend Irene takes a great look at that issue in one of her recent posts. I know it's "just a video game", but if its goal is to teach our history to a new generation, why not include ALL the parts of our community, not just the white male part.

I also think a video game of a shirtless gay man beating up cops for points is an uncomfortable concept, to say the least. As a commenter on GayGamer puts it: "Who wants to bet Fox News gets a hold of this and uses it to show that gay people hate cops and want to beat them up?"

This game seems to makes light of a very serious time and event in our community's history. I'm no stick in the mud, but for some reason this cartoon version of our community fighting back for their rights is a bit distasteful. Would people be okay with a cartoon video game of the 1960's race-based riots in Detroit? I think not.

Maybe I'm taking it too seriously, but I'm not sure how this game celebrates Pride. Even the name (and especially the early titles for it) seems disrespectful and offensive to say the least. If we are looking to teach younger generations about our history, there has to be a better way than stripping the diversity, making light, and delegitimizing the Stonewall riots.


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I really prefer the term "Stonewall Uprising" to "Stonewall Riots"

This was an uprising of an oppressed people, people who held the streets for five nights against a tactical team trained and equiped to disperse anti-war rioters.
The radicals, those who the conserva-queers of the era did not even acknowledge as their own, rose up and cried out with one voice "no more" to officially endorsed physical oppression by a government. Rioters usually vent anger, the participants in the Stonewall Uprising were defying the authority of a government to oppress them.

This game misses that point and turns a decisive point in LGBT history, our rising in defiance of governmental oppression, into the equivalent of a drunken Saturday night Folsom Street fistfight...

Maura Hennessey
The Lesbians: Changing America One Toaster Oven At A Time

This game misses that point and turns a decisive point in LGBT history, our rising in defiance of governmental oppression, into the equivalent of a drunken Saturday night Folsom Street fistfight...

Exactly, Maura. I also like your idea of using "uprising" instead of "riots". Great insight, as always!

If there is any sense of accuracy the "fighter" would be drag queen in heels defeating cops with high power can can dance kicks!

Maybe soon we'll see the Rodney King Beating video game. Play as the white cop or the black victim! Fun for all your friends!

Geez. Just tacky.

And maybe soon we'll see video games about WWII that involve stopping the holocaust....

This may surprise some, but while I think the execution clearly needs work, I think the concept is a good one.

Many of the most inspiring and satisfying stories, both real and fiction, throughout history have been stories of revolution, of standing up and fighting against overwhelming odds for freedom and justice. There are many video games based on historical battles and wars, and also many games that include street battles similar to what we see in this screen shot.

The real issue here is whether using a historical event in our own history like Stonewall is in good taste or even a good idea. I submit that if it were well-done, in other words, far better than what we see here, it could not only be good idea, but even a great idea.

If you read comic books as a kid like I did, you know how much you learned about art, history, science, literature, and so much more within those pages. Chances are they had an influence on the kind of adult you eventually became, even if it was just a small one.

By creating a video game where LGBT people are the heroes, especially if it's a good game that a lot of kids are going to want to play, will send a very positive message out there. No, not everyone will receive it, but some will, and maybe some will even pay attention.

Unfortunately, chances are this game would never be marketed by a major company. Not because of the GLBT part, but because of the beating up cops part.

battybattybats battybattybats | June 15, 2008 10:51 PM

I'd like to see more GLBT positive games.

For one thing a mainstream game where you can design your character as in some rpgs where you can choose clothes, hair, voices, build etc. but where all the male and female appearance options are able to be mixed and that you then can design the romantic interest character the same way too...

Then in the same game, in the same plot even, you could have the normal straight gaming experience with the added satisfaction of the romantic interest character fitting your own tastes but for those who never get to experience it the romantic interest character could now be another guy or another woman! One that actually meets the gamers own tastes rather than some stereotypical portrayel either! Just think how powerful a message that would be!

And because it would be player-choice driven it could slip right under the radar of many wowsers and couldn't be accused of preaching or pushing the idea on others, it'd just be allowing a tiny choice.

Thats what I'd like to see from a GLBT positive mainstream game.

As for this? Controvertial flash games aren't new, there was for example the colombine one and this is clearly far better than that one. It should have several player options including ethniciies, lesbians and trans or at least show that they too were a vital part of the uprising or it's offensive and a comment about the injustice of the law or the progress since between the community and the police wouldn't go astray.

batty: It's only a teeny, tiny step, but I have played one mainstream game in which the romantic interest character (well, one of them, anyway, there are 3) is a bisexual woman and the player character can be male or female, so it is possible to come out with a lesbian pair. No gay male pairing, naturally, but you've got to start somewhere with those gamer boys, I guess.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 16, 2008 8:36 AM

Puerile and unworthy of anything resembling pride.

I'm all for non-traditional media as a way to talk about important events. Comics/Graphic Novels (yes, I'm a geek) often take on tough issues or historical moments in a great way. I think it would be possible to create a LGBT positive video game as well. Creating a game with an LGBT main character would be a great start (heck, even LGBT supproting characters).

I think this game misses that mark.