- Role: Self-published game developer
- Location: Germany
We chatted with Soul, a self-published game developer who posts her content on RPGMaker.net.
QRM: Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do in the games industry?
Soul: I'm 21 years old and a huge fan of all things horror: horror movies, books and games – especially RPG Maker ones. It's been a long-time dream of mine to make one myself. So, after a lot of planning and with the help of my amazing friends, I started the production of my game. I wouldn't say I'm part of the gaming industry tho, because this is obviously just a hobby.
QRM: How long have you been involved in the game industry, and what projects have you worked on? What are you working on currently?
Soul: I started my first attempt at making my dream horror game in 2012 (I think). Looking back on it, it was really really bad, but at the time I was just so happy to finally make my own game. But then I ended up losing all my files, because my laptop broke. I kind of lost my motivation after that. But last year, after finding some old hand-written notes on the game, I found my motivation again. I want to finish what I started almost six years ago.
Now I am working on a better and newer version of that first attempt. My game is called Lullaby; it's a psychological horror game.
QRM: What inspired you to get started in the games industry?
Soul: I know it's such a cliched answer, but it's the games (in this instance the RPG Maker ones) I love that inspired me to make my own. It impressed me how much the developers could do with such a limited engine like RPG Maker – the atmosphere they create, the music, the visuals, the emotions they make the player feel. I've loved writing since I was a kindergartener, and to me a game is just another medium to tell a story. I realized that I want to do what the developers of my favourite games do. I want to tell stories that make people feel emotions, and I want to make something that moves people.
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?
Soul: I can't say too much, because I don't want to spoil anything – but there are a few queer characters in my game (I know, that's very vague, sorry). But, in general it's important to me that being part of the LGBTQ+ community is normalized – especially in media. I sometimes see characters where 'being queer' is their one characteristic and other than that they have no personality. Bad representation can be almost as bad as no representation at all (although I defenitely prefer developers at least trying). That's why my game – and possible future games – has queer people in it without making that the whole plot. They are part of a story that is not solely about them being queer, but a horror story. In the game it's achknowledged that they are queer, and it is a part of who they are, but it's not ALL they are.
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.
Soul: Hmmm... One of the classics is obviously Dr. Frank-N-Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Also Iron Bull from Dragon Age Inquisition, May from May, Emma from Blue is a warm colour... Hmm... Well, you know how it is, I can't think of anymore right off the top of my head, but then a lot will come to mind once I send these answers.
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.
Soul: Nah, since I'm in full control over my game, luckily I can do whatever I want. I think it's because the 'big' developers are unwilling to take risks – they are scared. Not only of the reactions by the people who are very conservative, but also because they know the LGBTQ+ community will react badly too if they don't do a good job at representing them. To them, it's safer to do it the way that it has always been done.
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?
Soul: Queer audiences grew up seeing hetero-only relationships in media, lead by cis characters. Many grew up confused and even thinking that there might be something wrong with them. It's important to represent queer people, because we EXIST and we deserve to be acknowledged. We have been ignored (and shamed) for too long. So that the next generation will grow up knowing that there might be a name to the feelings they have and that they aren't alone.
Mh. It's kind of hard to answer. I guess just showing support for games that have queer characters... maybe even making your own game...? Being open to developers trying to represent queer audiences is really important – even if it seems like they aren't good at it at first. Because then they see they have our support, that we want to see more diversity in games – and maybe other developers will see it too and start putting queer people in their games.
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?
Soul: I suppose the same way queer people can support diversity. Buying and supporting games with a queer cast. Being open to games that include LGBTQ+ people. Asking for more diversity in games alongside us, helping us.
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?
Soul: Never give up fighting for the games you want to see. Post about games that are important to you. Post about things you want to see. Write down ideas and share them on social media. Don't underestimate the power of your words – and who might see them.
Thank you very much for having me, Queerly Represent. I hope I was able to put my thoughts into words appropriately, since English isn't my mother tongue. [Editor's note: You did amazing, sweetheart.]
You can find Soul's games on RPGMaker.net.