The gaming industry has a rocky history when it comes to LGBT pride and representation. While many gaming companies support their LGBT employees (for example, EA was awarded full marks for LGBT support by the HRC), it’s incredibly unlikely that we will see LGBT characters in games and that these characters will be playable. In fact, when we have see LGBT characters in games (such as with Dragon Age: Inquisition and Mass Effect) it has been a divisive issue.
This is slowly but surely changing though, with many developers being outspoken about the need for diversity in our games, and having conversations about the ways in which companies support LGBT gamers. Atari is the latest to get involved in this, having now announced that the company is celebrating LGBT pride month and will be supporting NYC Pride.
Atari Supports LGBT Pride
Pride is essentially one big party in which LGBTQ+ people gather together to celebrate, discuss and support one another’s identities. It’s a huge deal as not only does it allow LGBTQ+ people to celebrate the community (and meet other people who identify similarly) but it also helps shed light on the issues and challenges (whether that be discrimination or marriage rights) that the community faces.
So, the fact that Atari is supporting such an important event is a big deal for equality, as it shows that companies aren’t afraid of a little backlash from a vocal, ignorant minority. Chris Frederick, Editor-in-Chief and Managing Director of NYC Pride says that:
“We are proud to partner with an iconic brand like Atari at NYC Pride this year. Our theme for this year is ‘Complete the Dream’ and having a company like Atari on board embodies the celebratory, dynamic environment we strive to create at our Pride events in New York which attract 2 million annually.”
However, not everyone is convinced that Atari is getting involved for good, equality-supporting reasons. The developer and publisher is attending the events to show off Pridefest, their upcoming mobile game which will allow people to host their own pride events, complete with attractions, decorations, and parade flotillas.
The fact that Atari is showing off Pridefest at NYC pride isn’t the problem, but people are concerned with the existence of Pridefest itself. Some cautious gamers have suggested that the game has been made not for the sake of a fun mobile gaming experience but for the sake of pandering to the LGBT audience and trying to cash in on the pink dollar.
Unfortunately, not enough is known about the game to confirm if it feels like a money-grab rather an entertaining game that fills a need, but hopefully we’ll find out more later this month.
Atari will be attending NYC Pride on Sunday, June 28, 2015 (12:00pm-6:00pm ET, Hudson and Abingdon Square St., Booth #A10). The company will also be attending queer comic convention Flame Con in Brooklyn, New York this Saturday.