Pokéballs, Pride Flags and Power-Ups! Oh My!

Originally posted on JohMyWord by Joash Musundi

With Pokémon Sun & Moon’s recent release the build up for the next game in the popular franchise has shown me one thing. Gaymers (using ‘gay’ as an umbrella term for those in the LGBT+ community) show out. From people -cough- mainly me -cough- comparing Pokémon to drag queens, to people’s aggressive shipping of Red and Blue (or Ash and Gary) as they both make their return to the franchise, one thing remains certain: a clear crossover between Queer culture and geek culture has been made apparent.

To focus on the Pokémon series, there is an apparent asexuality of the protagonist in the game (despite the aforementioned fan shipping). You go around battling, trading, and saving the world (just a regular degular day at the office) but the game doesn’t require you to live up to a straight ideal.
You don’t need to get a girlfriend (or boyfriend, depending on the gender of your avatar) and the fact that a young person who isn’t straight can enter this world where they don’t need to be anything but a pokémon trainer (or ranger depending on the title you pick) adds a level of escapism that could be helpful for young queer folk. This is ultimately a world without the pressure of being “straight.”

The Zelda Titles do a similar thing. Yes, the narrative is the typically heteronormative “save the princess” trope. But gender roles are somewhat toyed with (especially in the highly celebrated Ocarina of Time) in a way that other games of the time didn’t really do. Of course, there was the androgynous-presenting (and previously seen as male) Sheik (later revealed to be an alter ego of Zelda) who aided Link in the 2nd act of the game, but there was also Impa, who was a female Sheikah warrior whose job was to safeguard the princess.

Rescue you a princess who can do both. Credit: zeldawikia.com

Also beginning Ocarina of Time as an outcast amongst your people, trying to find your place in this vast dangerous world, discovering that who you were taught you were, or meant to be is not who you actually are, could prove to be relatable to people in the LGBT+ community. I know it resonated with me.

Hyrule (the world in which Ocarina of Time is set) is no stranger to powerful glamorous women either. The aforementioned Princess Zelda, Nabooru The Gerudo Warrior, and the Princess of the Zora people Ruto, (despite all needing to be rescued by Link at one point or another), all exhibit traits linking them to Diva-dom. Ruto’s demanding attitude, Nabooru’s dedication to sickening desert glamour and Zelda being a magical flipping princess make Ocarina of Time prime for diva worship.

I wish I could spearhead a rebellion and still serve desert glamour like Nabooru does here. And she is even fiercer than she looks in the game. Credit: zeldawikia.com

Returning to the Pokémon universe, there is a level of exaggeration to the looks of certain pocket monsters. This could result to certain pokémon looking like they are wearing camp ‘clothes’, or even like drag queens themselves. There is a reason images like this exist:

Or fans may run with reading certain pokémon as sassy gay pokémon. Like this:

And then there are tweets like this:

Credit: Twitter.com

Okay, that last one was just me but the idea still stands. Pokémon is easily an incredibly camp franchise and Pokémon fans LOVE that.

My point is that video games, (other than the ones that I have mentioned) can have an intrinsically queer sensibility. And this sensibility most likely extends to other aspects of other games. But I should point out that video games are fun and queer people can do things just for fun, and not everything we like requires a queer analysis.
That won’t stop me doing them, though.

Happy gayming, everyone!

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