Andy's Workshop

Game chat and stories along with some articles probably for the more geeky among us,
all written by me, Andy.

Click here for my Frontierville Addiction Therapy Guide

Saturday 12 February 2011

Testing the Relationship Boundaries on Frontierville

I'm guessing across some US states there may be something of a furore surrounding one of the three mission groupings for the love tree, specifically the one that leaves Hank and his Gameshow Host teeth on the sidelines and turns the Kissing Tree into a No-Man's Land.

Frontierville has always been open in its relationship permutations, as far as I know it's one of the few online games to allow same sex marriage (interestingly managing this before the real life states like Oklahoma that are presumably the base location for our homesteads have managed to themselves...)

Yes, the game will default once creating a spouse to the traditional opposite sex but this is swiftly changed with a click of the button by anyone who wants the game to reflect their real life sexuality.

Is this anachronistic as the state wouldn't allow it at the time? Yes, yes it is. But considering this is the game that gave us such Frontier staples as a Ring of Fire and a tame bear in a top hat I think the realism bar is already set somewhat lower than Olympic standard on this one...

Of course, what we have now is the suggestion from Zynga that two of the game's main NPC's have lesbian leanings, popping dominatirix schoolmarm Fanny alongside partygirl Bess, showing in some cases blonds like Hank don't have more fun, it's the brunette and the redhead you have to watch out for (possibly with a video camera handy or at least a telephoto lens).

To be honest some of us saw this coming. Back awhile I saw a comment from the lead game designer mooting the possibility of a penile-deficient coupling and my first thought was that it was a great idea, but there would be complaints... and also wondering why Hank himself didn't get to test his other sides... although neither Jack nor Bob make attractive propositions so perhaps the young ginger postman who I shall now christen Richard.

I think we know that there will be emails flying into the Zynga headquarters about this from some quarters, I wouldn't even be surprised to hear Fox News get a hold of it (almost looking forward to Glenn Beck crying and saying it's the end of his country as he knows it) but I know what the response should be from Zynga, even though I'm afraid their polite Customer Service staff won't be able to give it.

"Don't like it? Don't play it."

I think it's telling there are two badges for romance, and to get the second you only need to complete two of the romance storylines, in other words nobody is going to miss out on anything simply for not getting Fanny and Bess rolling in the hay.

Feel it's wrong to see two digital characters of the same sex kiss? (and let's face it, we're hardly talking hardcore girl on girl action here) Just pass that mission on and let Hank play the field instead and kiss both lovely ladies.

I'm not stupid enough to think gaming will change people's minds in EITHER direction. People won't get Fanny and Bess together and suddenly change their sexuality just as gay US servicemen showering together won't "pass on the gay" like it's some water transferable disease. It also won't make virulently anti-gay people change their minds either, and realise there's nothing wrong with the person you love coming equipped with the same mechanics as you have south of the belt.

Homosexuality is a part of life, it has been for as long as history is traced, it even shows up in the animal kingdom and I've been led to believe access to Frontierville is somewhat rare there (they all play Nintendo Wii).

Could they have ignored the X-chromosome only option? Of course they could... but in my mind they've made a good, and possibly brave, choice. In their own small way Zynga have decided to give a little kick to prejudice and intolerance.

The best part? You don't like it? It's a game, don't select that bit.

If the mere existence of it upsets you and makes you think about stopping playing? Dunk your head in cold water, write out 100 times "it's just a game" and go get Hank boinking Fanny just to make yourself feel better. And then Bess... But I think we'll address complaints about Hank playing the field another time (if there are any, many folks strangely believe adultery to be better than monogamous homosexuality)...


  1. Very well written. I think you help reiterate to the players that this is after all, just a game.

  2. Very well put, as usual, Andy. It's funny how some people get so upset over a game. They act like they are forced at gunpoint to play..

  3. Well done Andy. I know at least one of my 'friends' will stop playing as soon as he realizes what's going on... (he would agree with adultery being worse that monogamous sexuality).
    Wait - maybe I'll tell him now :-)

  4. I'm tickled seventeen shades of pink. I'm a celibate "straight" myself (at least I *think* I am ... :D) but I love the rainbow of equality! You go, girls, and I don't mean to some imaginary fear-mongered Hell. You go, Zynga! Andy, you rock as always. Well said! (PS and I'm only anonymous 'cause I don't have time to figure out a clever nom de game ...)

  5. That's brilliant Andy, so well written and to the point. It is only a game after all!

  6. I just wonder why they went with two women but don't have an option of two men?? Not that I care at all - just wonder what the thought process was in that decision.

  7. I think it was solely because of the lack of a believable second male NPC to join Hank up with.

    I get the feeling the ladies only option was slipped in afterwards due to response from Fans and didnt give them enough time to introduce a second male NPC and give him enough personality. These missions work on us seeing the trio as real people in a way. A slighty empty character wouldn't work well enough.