If you read this article on Mitch’s Gay Gamer archives you’ll find me briefly taking about Saints’ Row 2. I really enjoy the game, and personally think it is the best open world crime-a-thon I have ever played (GTA 4 bored me and I didn’t play GTA 5 for these reasons). It does have a few issues of course. It can be more than a little misogynistic , uses racial stereotypes and basically glorifies crime.
However, for all that these problems exist, they are balanced out by not being the major focus of the game. There is so much to do in Stilwater that the issues rarely crop up. There are never brought to the front, unlike GTA 5’s torture scene, so you could be forgiven for not noticing them as something else far better is going on.
Anyway, back to the main reason I came to right this post. Saints Row 2 offers an insane level of customisation. Far more than its sequels. Not only is your character and vehicles customisable, but your gang, Tag (spray-painting on walls)and Cribs can all be modified to some degree. With the frankly brilliant character creation system, which you can use at any point during the game for $500 in game money, comes a wealth of ways to experiment. Saints Row 2 is the only game I can name, that allows female characters to have beards, males to have breasts and actually create a Transgender character. You see, the first section asks you to pick your character’s sex, which limits you to, nothing. Your characters sex does not limit any of the options, the only thing it controls is whether your character has eyelashes (slightly annoys me because I had massive eyelashes even before identifying as a woman). TY=he next page offers you the body shape controls, which is masculine at one end, with broad shoulders and crotch bulge, and feminine at the other, with wide hips and breasts. Everything else is likewise open, so you can make muscle-bound bodies, fat bodies, strong jaws, soft faces, shaved heads, long flowing hair, beards or clean shaven. Your sex don’t matter, you could be totally androgynous. Even picking a voice is totally free an you can choose how your character acts from a wide variety of movement styles, taints and compliments, some being very camp and feminine, others more brutal and macho.
The Binary Breaking doesn’t just end within the character creation however. Once you are in the game you get access to stores with a wide variety of cloths. Again, being male doesn’t prevent you from wearing a female clothes, and vice versa. You can dress your character how you wish, and the brilliant thing is that it has no bearing on how your character is perceived. Unlike the Fable serious, where dressing in the opposite sex’s clothes will result in you being considered funny, in Saints Row 2 no one bats an eye lid. While it was likely added for humour, it has actually made it probably one of the best inclusive games as far as Gender Binary Breaking goes.
I would really suggest buying this game, the experimenting with how you want to present yourself isn’t really available to such a degree anywhere else digitally. I know that it was probably where I first began to experiment with my gender, and because it is entirely digital, you don’t have to worry about people seeing you and becoming nasty. Once you gain confidence, you can take it beyond the game, but it stills acts as a good starting point. The story is also really good, better than its sequels, so while you are there you can also enjoy the rest this brilliant game has to offer.