I can’t stay quiet about this any longer. An issue has sprung up that has truly outraged the Arkham community on all sides – the issue of representation of characters’ sexual orientation within the lore of the game. Most sane people would agree that a person’s sexual orientation shouldn’t really matter much to who they are. FFG, though, saw fit to fly in the face of progress and go a totally different track with their game, making a big deal out of something that shouldn’t matter at all. Most of this criticism has of course, centered around one character, one character’s whose sexual orientation has been shoved down everyone’s throats from the moment he was announced.
That character, of course, is Mark Harrigan.
From the moment one first encounters Mark, one may think this is a character who’s going to keep his private life PRIVATE. Unfortunately, that is not what happens. Right out the gate, the player’s eyes are accosted by the first line on his card. “You begin the game with Sophie (In Loving Memory) in play.” Apparently, the developers of this game saw fit to include the very female name of Mark’s different-gendered lover right on the front of his card. It’s as if the developers of this card game – a card game people play for FUN, not to be PREACHED AT – are trying to say this character’s sex life is the most important thing about him.
At this point, you may say, “Well, who cares if he’s straight? Just play the game and don’t think about it.” The only problem is, if you are playing Mark, you have to think about him being straight ALL. THE. TIME. This is because Mark’s 100% female lover is literally a signature asset. Talk about representation GONE WILD! One can only wonder what FFG was thinking with this one, taking a character’s heterosexuality and making a signature asset out of it!
Not only is it a signature asset, it also flips to become a signature weakness. In fact, playing around Sophie as an asset and as a weakness is core to how Mark works mechanically. The crazy developers were not content to leave Mark’s sexual orientation just be a piece of the lore in the game. They had to shove it into the way he plays as a character too! It’s like the developers are saying his heterosexuality is a core part of who he is! YIKES.
I, like many others, wish we could live in a world where one’s sexual orientation is not treated like it’s such a big deal. Unfortunately, it’s hard to imagine such a world on the way with characters like Mark Harrigan slowing down progress by shoving heterosexuality in the face of people who, frankly, just want to play board games.
Characters like Calvin Wright are fine, though. No problem there.