Prince Gomolvilas

Unintentionally Homophobic, Virtually

Filed By Prince Gomolvilas | December 29, 2008 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Gay Geeks, Media
Tags: homophobic behavior, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Home, Second Life, Sony

As if the animated virtual world of Second Life, playstation home.jpgwhich has led to real-life divorces, weren't enough to keep geeks occupied and separated from more important things like, oh, reality, Sony recently launched PlayStation Home, yet another animated virtual world, this time created for the PlayStation 3 video game platform. But barely weeks out of the gate, PlayStation Home is already stirring up an unhealthy bit of controversy.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle:

Michael Marsh, an 18-year-old gamer from Norwalk, Conn., wanted to set up a gay/straight alliance club in PlayStation Home, Sony's new free 3-D virtual world component for the PlayStation 3.

The problem was that the words he was using - "gay," "lesbian" and "bisexual" - were being filtered from text chats and were not being allowed in the naming of clubs or in postings in club forums.

Sony is currently looking into the issue of censoring words, as "Christ," "Jew," and "Hello" have also been blocked.

But unintentional homophobia is probably the least of Sony's worries. PlayStation Home users have also complained about connection problems, temporary disabling of certain features, disappearing animated items, and virtual harassment.

I would say, "Back to the drawing board," but shouldn't these issues have been resolved during private beta testing?

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Is this kind of like Sims where they've had various ongoing LGBT-related mishaps? In the first version of the game, if you kissed another man (or climbed into bed beside him) he would become angry and start berating your character.

That only happened with someone who wasn't in love with you. If you ran up the short-term affection and didn't give long-term affection time to increase they'd get mad, but that was whether they were male or female. Same gender couples were possible with the same rules as mixed gender couples.

Er, that's what I heard, I mean. Not that I spent time having fellas smooch each other in the game. And I certainly didn't get the hacks that let you give bjs on the kitchen counter.

No sir I did not.

Places like restaurants and coffee shops that offer free Wi-Fi to their customers often use a filtering system as well. I can remember when the Wi-Fi at Panera wouldn't let me access Bilerico! Perhaps it was because of the tranny porn and x-rated teenage diaries, Bil? (just kidding!)

Seriously, some people seem to think that anything LGBT is all about porn and is inappropriate for minors (and decent god-fearing folks in general). A software filter will never be up to the task of making fine moral distinctions, which is why censorship is usually a bad idea.

They're not necessarily homophobic. Rather, they like to avoid offensive uses of such words, which happens without end on platforms that are swarmed by teenagers. As long as "dyke", "homo", "queer", and "faggot" are filtered as well, I don't mind.

From here on out, I direct all questions about PlayStation Home to Matt Algren, who is much more an authority on the subject than I am. Giving virtual blowjobs certainly trumps reading stuff in the San Francisco Chronicle. I bow in your honor, Matt.

Somebody finally recognizes my authority, and it's for giving hummers on an old computer game.

I think the words gay, lesbian and bisexual absolutely need to be visible in this game, and shame on Sony for filtering these words, as this can easily appear to be a homophobic move, whether intentional or not. We shouldn't live on fear of teenagers using words offensively - we fight offensive nature of communication by standing up for who we are and directly talking to them. YouTube allows gay content, and there are very offensive comments towards gay people in all kinds of videos, but there are also people who stand up for themselves with their own comments, and it does make a difference. Silence equals death, and we love ourselves way too much to let others tell us how to live our lives, and if we're smart, we tell Sony to stop this filtering now.

I actually spent an entire hour on this topic on a show I did last year.

First of all, understand who's really using Playstation Home and a lot of the other online games (Second Life has a separate PG-rated grid for under-18's and at least makes an effort to keep underage users away from adult areas). A significant portion of the user base are teenagers (i.e. minors) and so the makers and operators of these services tend to go a little overboard in making sure that inappropriate content isn't an issue.

In a lot of cases, the game itself will skirt or even outright ignore the kind of restrictions imposed on users in company-sponsored online media. For example, Eve-Online, a space based online game, has LGBT-inclsive and specific player groups within it, but the words "gay", "lesbian" and even "crack" are banned from use within the company-sponsored user discussion forums.

The unfortunate reality is that it doesn't really matter if you and I think these words are perfectly fine descriptors of our lives. The game company's main interest here isn't about validating LGBT lives it's about avoiding problems and keeping players happy and continuing to pay to participate. They'd much rather offend a few of us than risk offending the far larger mostly young, mostly straight, mostly male user base that's their bread and butter.

I use better known as RLC Red Light Center for my 3d chatting there is a very large LGBT community there and its all adult so no kids.Basic members cant have sex get naked etc thats strictly for the paying members.Yes we have our racist idiots then every place dose.I am in as a open TG and I have had only a few react in horror at me. Most go ok your nice lets be friends.There are only male and female avs no"shemale" one but many of the girls learn to wear a stapon full time me I use a regular female av.We even have our own section of town but mostly the Gay guys hang out there the girls Trans and Lesbian girls wander at will.The forum section is wide open language wise moderators mostly look for flame wars and topics in wrong section. Im PrincessCaty_DVA in world so wander on over and check it out.DVA is for Dark Vampire Angels :).

Wow, Cathy, I didn't even know this existed. Thanks for the tip. Any application that lets you use a strap-on is a friend to me! Ha ha! :)

Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. I'm learning so much more about PlayStation Home, as well as other applications, than I ever thought I would. But, c'mon, filtering "Hello"? Come on! :)

They been around a couple of years now very small game player wise I have yet to see over 3000 online.The company is based in Vancover BC and one of the sections in world is based on Vancover the other two are based on Amsterdam and South Beach.:) Princess is my rank in the vampire family im in hehe were mostly lesbians with a few straight guys in the group.Many mistake the group for a lesbain group do to our high number of lesbians and bi girls in it.:)

ok an update on RLC it has vastly improved since Bils review.No its not Mac friendly yet the long awaited aparments are online if I knew how to post pics id show you mine.So wander by and check them out forums are read even if the owner Brian dose not always respond to things when he dose it is important.The next upgrade to the world is a revamp of Vancouver to make it look more like the real place.So wander on buy and check it out if your PC is maxed out you may wnat to increase your memory as it is a memory hogg as I had to turn off stuff with my old PC to get it to run when I got a new one it runs fine.

I need a drink.
The last time that I was involved with on line chat, it was on the old Q-net on IRC

Yeah, Alex and Maura, this thread has made a quantum leap into the advanced levels of geekdom. :)