It's tough enough getting women and dudes who aren't white into a starring role in a video game. So imagine how impossible it is to try and get a gay or lesbian character in the spotlight.
A seemingly pedestrian interview on Ubisoft's company blog last week got interesting when Lucien Soulban, Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon's writer, was asked "As an openly gay man working in the industry, what do you think the odds are that we'll get a mid-30s stubbly-bearded brown-haired white guy with a raspy voice who is gay as a lead character in a AAA title?"
A joke question, perhaps, but to his credit, Soulban immediately reworks it, saying "I think the real question is, When are going to get a gay/lesbian AAA hero(ine) who isn't a one-off joke?"
"So when are we going to see that gay protagonist in a AAA game?", he says. "Not for a while, I suspect, because of fears that it'll impact sales. So either we'll see a bait-and-switch like the original Metroid with Samus Aran where we'll find out damn near after the fact (PS: And Dumbledore was gay), or it'll come out of left field with Rockstar, Valve, Naughty Dog or Telltale, perhaps. But when it happens, I hope it's a serious take on it and not played up for jokes."
Note that he's not talking about games like Mass Effect, where you can choose to be gay. Nor is he talking about a peripheral character, or some DLC. He's talking about picking up the controller and knowing that a blockbuster game's main protagonist was gay.
Soulban is of course right, at least as far his idea of how it would be viewed as a business decision. Publishers have enough trouble with women in lead roles in video games, and it's 2014. The mind reels at the bannable internet comments you'd see in response to a badass space marine preferring the company of other badass space marines.
But he also inadvertently points out the single biggest problem in that line of thinking. The warped perspective. Those suits are thinking of the sales having a major, playable gay character would cost them.
What's wrong with thinking of the sales it would create for them?