Political Focus: new popular battle royale ‘Apex: Legends’ releases with diverse roster that draws hate

Minority representation has only recently made a surge in popularity and importance in the video game theater.

EA Games and Respawn Entertainment recently joined the battle royale genre, sweeping the video game market last week with their release of “Apex: Legends” on Saturday, Feb. 2. The game offers more unique hero-based roster akin to games like “Overwatch,” allowing for more opportunity for lore, backstory and most importantly, representation.

Credit where credit is due, Respawn made a great effort to be inclusive in its roster, with a variety of women and people of color filling out the ranks of their eight playable characters. In a press release on Thursday, Feb. 7, they also announced two of the characters represent parts of the LGBT+ community.

Since large game developers have only recently made efforts to be more inclusive in their development, any game like Apex that makes an effort like this is bound to draw some amount of illegitimate criticism from internet trolls and bots. However, Apex seemed to strike a more common nerve and was accused by a larger minority of players of being, yes, too diverse.

This complaint is not a legitimate one. The idea that not enough straight people being in a first person shooter game somehow ruins the experience means something is wrong with you, not the game. That might not be the wording a homophobe would use, but it’s the underlying premise of their dislike of the game. Even the apathetic ‘who cares’ responses are evidence gay characters look unimportant to the vast majority of the non-LGBT+ community. As I’ll show, it does matter.

Thankfully, many of the responses have been positive. This is especially true for members of the represented communities, who have outwardly expressed how happy they are these characters exist and are just like them.

“This makes me so incredibly happy as like, Bangalore kinda looks like me and that there’s some LGBTQ+ diversity in gaming,” said Twitter user @ameliegrr. “Can’t we just be happy that people can see themselves represented?”

Others called out individuals critical of the decision, noting this kind of representation extends beyond politics.

“For people saying politics shouldn’t be in gaming, they’re ignoring the fact that whether or not LGBT people exist isn’t politics,” said Twitter user @EeveeA_. “Developers wrote a diverse cast of characters, where the lore if people seek it out is there.”

Just so everything is clear — the identity of the characters has no effect on in-game performance, and so there should be no reason for anyone to be mad about game balance, about game enjoyment or about game design. These characters are just a way for people that are a part of the community to feel included in a world that frequently makes them feel alienated and unwanted. These thankful responses are evidence of how important it is for more games to do this.

Apex is still a new game, and the myriad internet homophobes hating on these decisions will likely never leave. Only time will tell if future games will finally be able to represent minority groups in a positive light without serious backlash, but I for one am hopeful with the early success of this particular game.