The world’s biggest video game has put gay themes in its latest instalment.
The Ballad of Gay Tony is a new chapter expanding Grand Theft Auto IV which made half a billion dollars in its first week of release.
Players become bodyguards to Anthony ‘Gay Tony’ Prince, owner of the hottest gay and straight clubs in Liberty City.
Tony is in debt thanks to an out-of-control boyfriend and players must help him get his affairs back in order.
Players can take jobs in Tony’s clubs, including gay bar Hercules, and much of the game involves running errands for him.
The chapter has been praised for injecting humour back into the series, but considering its gritty crime themes it’s unsurprising the odd homophobic slur is included in cut scenes.
The Star asked Sean Dempsey, an editor at GayGamer.net, if he thought a gay character in such a prominent role meant that heterosexual gamers were becoming more comfortable with gay themes.
“There’s no question that parts of the gamer demographic have matured,” Dempsey said.
“The title of the game itself is a major step for gay visibility on the Xbox 360, where right now you can’t even mention your sexual orientation without risking the suspension of your online account.”
However, Dempsey doesn’t believe the game is a civil rights statement by the creators, Rockstar Games.
“Rockstar is always poking at detractors and fans to get reactions, and I think they looked at what was going on in the US and other countries and figured ‘the gay thing’ might be a good way to get everyone’s prurient juices pumping,” he said.
“At the same time, Rockstar has been one of the more gay-supportive companies out there, and I’m sure the folks making the game had a few giggles when they imagined forcing macho teenagers to run errands for an openly gay character.
“That’s probably worth more to them than the small number of sales they could lose by putting the word ‘gay’ in the title.”
Andrew Farrell, a gay gamer in Sydney, said he was looking forward to playing the game, but quality of gameplay would always come first in deciding what to buy.
“I wouldn’t go for a game simply for a same-sex plotline,” Farrell said.
“I’d be curious, but with the high price of games I’d go for the one which would be fun to play first.”
However, Farrell said he’d be loyal to any game which combined both.

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