It’s not a big surprise for some, but queers make up a huge percentage of people out there who play video games in some shape or form. Just take a look at Gaymer.org or GayGaymer.net. As a gamer for some time now, I have a decent sense of the kind of culture out there for gamers, and I am particularly sensitive to the culture that exists in the world of MMORPGs. But I noticed a moment in recent gaming history that struck a deep chord for genderqueer-minded gamers across the world. The game in question is World of Warcraft [WoW] (with more than 7 million players worldwide), and the catalyst for this massive event was none other than:

The Male Blood Elf

In the years since the game’s debut, devoted queer players of the World of Warcraft have observed the horrifically homophobic culture of online gamers – “fag” is easily one of the most frequently used words in the game. As a result, gamers started creating guilds (such as the Spreading Taint), or clubs, within the game for LGBT-friendly people. These kinds of groups were met with opposition, however, and by none other than the game developers: the administration of Blizzard Entertainment. Blizzard tried to suppress queer guilds by claiming that such organizing violated its policy against sexually explicit language or lewd behavior. After being confronted by the LGBT Task Force, Blizzard changed its tune, and now homo guilds can run around doing their thing.

But back to the Blood Elves. In early 2006, Blizzard surprised the gaming world with its announcement of an expansion, The Burning Crusade; the most important component being the introduction of the Blood Elves, a highly anticipated and much adored in-game race. But there was a twist nobody expected:

Blood Elf men are FLAMERS. Not just skinny, European metrosexuals, as most expected the Blood Elves to resemble. They are queeny, fashionistos, worthy of Fannie fierceness. Their clothes included belly-shirts; even their scripted voice phrases were steeped in queer subtext (“Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot…like…me?” “Sigh…I could really use a scrunchy…yeah, you heard me!”). They were completely unlike the rough-tough macho-male races in the game that resembled the pinnacle of Grecian physique. Blood Elf men were gender variant.

Immediately after Burning Crusade’s launch, thousands upon thousands of messages were posted on the official WoW message boards: “Why are the Blood Elves so gay?” “Sign petition to make Blood Elves men straight!” “Blood Elves are for fags.” Typical debates unraveled on the message boards about gays and straights, if gays should be on WoW, and whether the characters should be changed. How did Blizzard respond to all of these complaints?

They didn’t.

In fact, it was clear to see that despite all of the gay hate going on in the forums, thousands of people were creating new Blood Elf characters every day; even though it was super, super gay…it was still infinitely popular. Blood Elves dominated the realms, and the social culture, slowly but surely, started to change.

In my opinion, nerdy gamers in worlds like WoW, where hate-filled, homophobic people can hide behind the anonymity of their in-game avatars, are the most free they will ever be to say words like “fag” and go around calling everyone cocksuckers as often as they like. By creating a popular character that just so happens to act a little gay, Blizzard may have changed the global nerd culture to be friendlier to homos.

And I think they did it on purpose.

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