Queerly Represent Me sat down with Grhyll.

QRM: Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do in the games industry?

Grhyll: I'm Grhyll, a french gay guy. I've been a programmer at The Game Bakers for 7 years, and I also love to do smaller projects, like game jams or short games, solo or with friends. I love to handle almost any part of a game, like narration or music, but I seriously couldn't draw the simplest thing, even to save my life.

QRM: How long have you been involved in the game industry, and what projects have you worked on? What are you working on currently?

Grhyll: I started working in the industry right before graduating with an internship at The Game Bakers 7 years ago, and well, it was nice, so I've been there since! I've worked on Squids and its sequel, Combo Crew. More recently, I've worked on Furi and currently on a still unannounced project. On the solo side, I've made too many prototypes to remember, until I decided it was time to complete some things. I published Red Skies, a mobile shoot-em-up, with a friend, then started working on a narrative incremental (think Spaceplan). I had to put that on hold though when a game jam project turned out quite good, so my two friends and I decided to make it into a full game. It's called oQo and it's a soothing puzzle game inspired by meditation, for which I handle music, shaders and marketing.

QRM: What inspired you to get started in the games industry?

Grhyll: I always thought that working would mean doing something a bit boring so I could have enough money to eat, and doing personal fun projects in the evening. I already wrote a lot and made music and small video games when I was young, but never really considered it a viable life path. It's only at the end of my studies, when I had to find a 6 month internship, that it suddenly occurred to me that I could apply in the video game industry: it gathers all the art forms that I love, offers an infinite variety of challenges, and you don't have to wear a suit. Today I can say I have fun while working, and then I have fun in the evening too!

QRM: In what ways do you feel your experiences as a queer person manifest in the games you work on, and influence the work you do?

Grhyll: It doesn't have a big impact in my professional life; I've happened to make some suggestions sometimes, like having a non-binary character, or a same-sex couple, but as a programmer it's not really my field of expertise. It's easier to introduce queerness in my side projects, like taking part in QRM jams (see A Fine Night) or putting gay characters in other jams (I won't give a link for this one because it's quite bad 😁). It has definitely made me more empathetic, and I'm burning to tell more stories with non-traditional characters, but well, making games is a slow process so it's gonna be one game at a time.

QRM: Do you have a favourite queer character—in games or media more generally? If so, what is it about them that makes them your favourite?
Question asked by @kamienw.

Grhyll: Tough one! I don't really remember a lot of queer characters in the games or media I was consuming while younger, and now I'm spending a lot more time making games than playing games... recently though, I've been loving a lot Gregg and Angus from Night in the Woods.

QRM: Have you ever encountered roadblocks in trying to include queer characters in games? What do you think is preventing greater diversity within games?
Question asked by @dustinalex91.

Grhyll: Personally I haven't had so many opportunities or roadblocks to include queer characters in games; either I'm alone and I do whatever I want so no problem, either I'm at work and, well, I'm a programmer. I think the main issue is mostly ignorance; if someone hasn't ever had a chance to put themselves in the shoes of a queer person, then they're not very likely to understand the importance of representation or to even think about including queer characters. More queer people in the industry, who could be more open about who they are, would certainly help to just make it normal to have queer characters. (I'm not very good at those questions, it's a vast subject...)

QRM: Why do you think it is important that queer audiences are able to see themselves represented in the games they play, and in the developers who make the games they see? What can we do to improve the industry for queer audiences and devs?

Grhyll: I think it's important for so many reasons. It won't have the same effect on everyone, but to some it can go a very long way to see that you're allowed to exist and that who you are is recognized and normal. It's kind of a validation that says: "People like you are okay." I also think it's important as well for society in general; as more and more people play video games including at a young age, it's a spectacular opportunity to normalize the very existence of queer people.

Regarding what we can do to improve the industry, well... Keep working hard?

QRM: Have you ever mentored somebody in your role in games, or been mentored? If so, what made these experiences worthwhile for you?
Question asked by @pepelanova.

Grhyll: Never really had a close mentorship, only lead technical directors (that still helped me infinitely to get where I am now skill-wise). And I doubt I would ever feel legitimate enough to mentor someone! (Although if anyone reading this feels otherwise and looks for advice, my DMs are open on Twitter!)

QRM: In what ways can non-queer folk increase and support queer diversity present within games, as well as in the industry more broadly? How can we all work to support intersectional approaches to diversity, and why is this important?

Grhyll: A hard thing can be to simply begin to speak up. A few times—like asking if there's gonna be a gay couple in the game, or suggesting this character be non-binary—I felt a bit like just by saying that I would be seen as "that annoying gay trying to push his gay agenda where it's not needed". Rationally, I know it's not the case, but yeah, it kind of requires a bit of courage to bring those matters, and somehow I think it can be easier for non-queer people to take that role. I'm not speaking about forgetting the queer colleagues and just assemble a queer character from stereotypes (a thing we seem to see absolutely everywhere with women/handicapped/lgbt characters), but to introduce the possibility and then speak to/hire people who know what it's like and can give sensible input.

Show your support for those causes, explicitly. Encourage lgbt artists, musicians, programmers, and perhaps the dialogue will be easier and more applicants will come in.

QRM: Is there a message that you would like to share with the queer game players, game studies researchers, and other interested folks who comprise the Queerly Represent Me community?

Grhyll: You're amazing, what you're doing is amazing and it matters! I wish the days would be 48 hours long so I could invest myself as much as you do in these fights...


You can see more from Grhyll on Twitter.