The games that are developed, produced, and otherwise worked on by queer people become queer—even if they do not contain explicitly queer characters or otherwise queer themes—simply because the game has been in some way steered by the influence and experience of a queer person. There's more to creating a 'queer' game than simply including explicit representation of queerness within that game.
While the creation of 'new distribution platforms, niche media portals, and customizable content' has allowed marginalised developers and producers (and audiences) to contribute more to diverse content within games,¹ the expectation that it is the sole responsibility of queer people to create queerness in games—and therefore not the responsibility of those who do not identify as queer—forces those who are marginalised to complete the labour required to improve diversity within the industry, as well as within the games being created. The assumption that the 'mere presence' of any marginalised group within the games industry increases the representation of that marginalised group within games themselves places the burden of improving games on the shoulders of the marginalised.¹
There are ways that non-marginalised people can help to improve diversity in the games industry, or that people who are marginalised in some ways can also improve diversity in the areas that they are not. Just as the ways we must improve diversity in the games industry are intersectional, our identities themselves are intersectional.
This interview series explores the experiences of queer folk working in the games industry. We ask our interviewees about the work they do and the ways their own queer identities have influenced the games they have worked on, but we also ask them to chat with us about what more we can be doing to improve other forms of diverse representation, and what non-marginalised people can be doing to support queer representation in games.
There is often a focus on representation of marginalised groups within texts—and whether this representation is 'positive' or 'negative'—but representation is, and should be, more complex and nuanced than that, to reflect the complexity of our identities. It is important that we are not only demanding increased and improved representations of queerness in games, but also more nuanced discussions of representation and diversity within the industry—in media, in scholarship, and among audiences. Talking to queer folks working in games about these messy issues is one way that Queerly Represent Me hopes to contribute to this conversation.
This initiative is being run by our founding director, Alayna Cole. If you would like to be involved in this series, or have any questions about the interviews featured here, you can contact her via email or Twitter.
¹Shaw, A., 2015. Gaming at the edge: Sexuality and gender at the margins of gamer culture. Univ Of Minnesota Press.