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Bears and beards: Why Fist of Awesome almost launched with a gay lead

Bears and beards: Why Fist of Awesome almost launched with a gay lead

With the subject of the representation of gay people in games high on our agenda right now, Nicoll Hunt – the developer behind side-scroller Fist of Awesome– has revealed that he always intended for the game's lead to be gay.

According to Hunt, Fist of Awesome's Tim Burr – who spends his days punching bears – would have been affectionately 'outed' at the very end of the game.

"When I started making Fist of Awesome I always intended for the main character, Tim Burr, to be gay," detailed Hunt.

"It wasn't something that affects the gameplay in anyway, it was just something the player would discover at the very end of the game. For a game that sells itself pretty hard on the whole beards and bears thing, ending the game with the understanding that Tim was a 'bear' all along somehow seemed appropriate."

No statement

Hunt's comments come after PocketGamer.biz's attention was pricked by a discussion with New Star Games on Twitter about why New Star Soccer only allows players to take on the role of a heterosexual footballer.

As detailed since, the call isn't for token gay characters to be needlessly threaded into games, but rather for players to be given the option to be gay if the game allows them to choose a partner - a call Hunt can appreciate.

Understanding that Tim was a 'bear' all along somehow seemed appropriate.
Nicoll Hunt

"It was never intended to be a grand statement on how LGBT people are treated in games - I think it's only really for those affected to make those kind of assertions," added Hunt.

"It was just my own ham-fisted way of promoting a little more equality in the time-travelling-lumberjack-em-up genre."

The choice

Hunt claims that, "in the name of equality", he moved away from making Tim gay and instead presented his audoence with a choice. In the final version of the game, this is the last scene that greets players:

The player has full control and can choose which of the two characters to walk to.

"The sequence plays out the same if you choose the other character, with Tim instead being swept off his feet by the girl," explained Hunt.

"In hindsight giving the gay love-interest a handlebar moustache wasn't exactly breaking away from stereotypes, but it does match the games tongue-in-cheek style, and subtlety is hard with 4x6 pixels."

Hunt says statistics compiled a month or so after release showed that more than 70 percent of gamers who completed the title picked the guy, with just under 30 percent opting for the girl. On Android, the split was even more in favour of the gay relationship

"I've had very few negative responses to the sequence," concluded Hunt. "Mainly just some Twitter comments complaining that it was a 'serious' way to end the game."

You can read what our experts, the Mavens, had to say about the lack of gay characters in games here.

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With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

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