Jay Ellis

We chatted with Jay, a proud gaymer.

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

Jay: I'm a proud gaymer who started playing video games when I was old enough to hold my Nintendo controller. I've taken this experience and now host an online show reviewing and discussing new releases as well as dipping back into retro games.

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

Jay: I've always been a consumer of the gaming industry. All games I play and review are made available to the public. Currently [EN: at the time of this interview] playing through God of War on PS4 and Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze on Nintendo Switch.

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

Jay: My love for gaming influenced my decision to pursue a career in gaming. When I was a kid, I'd rather be playing Final Fantasy VII than go hang with friends in my karate class. It's turned from a hobby to a career.

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?

Jay: Since I don't work on the production of video games, I can't comment on how it influences my work. The best I can say for my line of work is I don't treat myself any different than someone who is heterosexual. I say what type of impact a character has on me, or how a story unfolded based on my experiences. The great thing about video games is it's a universal experience that individuals can interpret however they want.

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.

Jay: I really loved that you could make the protagonist from Mass Effect (Shepard) pursue a gay romance storyline. It was the first time I played a game where I felt that sexuality wasn't a factor in saving humanity. A queer captain could save the universe just as well as a straight one.

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.

Jay: I think that fear is preventing diversity in games. With a majority of the gaming market being aimed at hetero men and young boys, it might be a huge risk for a game to include LGBTQA characters or themes. If they write a story that heterosexual men may not relate to, I believe studios are afraid to isolate their core audience.

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?

Jay: I think it's important for queer audiences to see themselves represented because everyone should have a chance to explore their own story. With so much media geared toward straight men and women, queer audiences often have to identify with these straight characters; that can be difficult to do. If we start inlcuding more queer characters, perhaps gamers will find their voice and their story through these games. A way we can achieve this is by having queer developers writing and making these stories. An example that comes to mind is Gone Home. Such a small and simple game, but a huge impact and important story that showed the fear of coming out.

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?

Jay: I think it is important for non-queer folks to work and support queer projects and developers because their actions can influence others that see them. We learn tolerance. If we are all allies and lift each other to make the best product that we possibly can make, everyone wins!

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?

Jay: What I want everyone to know is no matter how alone you feel, there is someone out there who understands you. Just because you haven't seen a game, character, or story that is specific to you, don't be discouraged. In fact, create it. I didn't see many gay men gaming on YouTube or Twitch, so I decided to be one that people can turn to if they want that content. Make your voice heard and tell your story so others can connect to you. Luckily gaming is a very creative medium, so you can tell your story however you want!


You can find Jay on Twitter or Instagram at @dont_be_jellis.