Where do we draw the line between “I’m glad that was a start,” and “That was the best we got?”
As far as underrated video game series go, Conker is somewhere at the top of the list – to the point where I forgot the games even existed if not for seeing an image scroll by on Instagram. First seen in Donkey Kong Racing, Conker was developed by Rare under the guidance of creator Chris Seavor. A reddish-brown action squirrel with a bit of an attitude, Conker received his first unique game in Game Boy Advance’s Conker’s Pocket Game; with following installments including Conker’s Bad Fur Day for the N64, Conker: Live and Reloaded for XBOX, and a DLC in Project Spark for XBOX 360.
Since the last game’s release in 2014, two other titles have been announced by Rare, but were cancelled shortly after.
While Conker’s Pocket Game is noted for being family friendly and wholesome (and it’s the only one I’ve played), the rest of the series received negative reviews for its overuse of bloody graphic violence, sexual innuendos and imagery, swearing, dirty humor and ripping off films. Although the swearing and sexual themes are bleeped out or implied, they’ve made every other title in the Conker series unsuitable for kids under the age of thirteen. Yay penis humor and the F word. If you don’t believe me, check out the full video at the bottom of this post.
However, hidden in this underrated and misunderstood video game series is an LGBT character; perhaps even one of the first to be featured in a supporting role. I’m talking about Quentin Cog, one of two spinning cogs who appear in Conker’s Bad Fur Day and Conker: Live and Reloaded. Quentin is one-half of the cog, the other half is Carl, although they are described as one character with split personalities. Carl is your typical, too masculine archetype with a big cigar, too much swearing, and unrelenting aggression for no reason. When Carl is spun upside-down, he becomes Quentin.
On the other hand, Quentin is even-tempered and spokes a cigarette on an old-school holder while eloquently speaking with a foreign accent. It’s not fair to assume one’s sexual identity or sexual orientation based on stereotypes, however, Quentin is all but specifically mentioned as gay as he alludes to “rather delicious” anal sex. To complete the challenge in the game, Conker must place the cogs on big pieces of wood. The imagery is implied sex, equipped with sound effects and moaning, to which Quentin is delighted to be on Mr. Big Cog’s nose (which, yes, Big Cog sounds like big cock).
Somewhat offensive, yes. Somewhat crude, yes. But I don’t think there were a lot of out LGBT characters running around in video games in 2001. So, I’m going to chalk this one up as a win. Hopefully back then, a young player was able to make the connection that it’s OK for boys to like boys, and looked to the future to find more inclusion in the medium that they love.