“The Queer Games Avant-Garde: How LGBTQ Game Makers Are Reimagining the Medium of Video Games” by Bonnie Ruberg— Making and Playing the Game

Ruberg, Bonnie. “The Queer Games Avant-Garde: How LGBTQ Game Makers Are Reimagining the Medium of Video Games”, Duke University Press, 2020.

Making and Playing the Game

Amos Lassen

Bonnie Ruberg’s “The Queer Games” gives us twenty interviews with twenty-two queer video game developers. Their radical, experimental, vibrant, and deeply queer work is bringing about a shift in the medium of video games.  They speak with insight and candor about their creative practices and their politics and passions, telling stories about their lives and inspirations, the challenges they face, and how they understand their places within video game culture. What they have to say goes beyond typical conversations about LGBTQ representation in video games or how to improve “diversity” in digital media. Rather, “they explore queer game-making practices, the politics of queer independent video games, how queerness can be expressed as an aesthetic practice, the influence of feminist art on their work, and the future of queer video games and technology.” Their conversations give us a look at an influential community that is changing and redefining video games by “placing queerness front and center.”

The interviewees include Ryan Rose Aceae, Avery Alder, Jimmy Andrews, Santo Aveiro-Ojeda, Aevee Bee, Tonia B******, Mattie Brice, Nicky Case, Naomi Clark, Mo Cohen, Heather Flowers, Nina Freeman, Jerome Hagen, Kat Jones, Jess Marcotte, Andi McClure, Llaura McGee, Seanna Musgrave, Liz Ryerson, Elizabeth Sampat, Loren Schmidt, Sarah Schoemann, Dietrich Squinkifer, Kara Stone, Emilia Yang, Robert Yang

The queer games avant-garde not only change the boundaries of gaming, it’s shows what games can be and that  we can all play.

Table of Contents: 

Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction. Reimagining the Medium of Video Games  1
Part I. Queer People, Queer Desires, Queer Games
1. Dietrich Squinkifer: Nonbinary Characters, Asexuality, and Game Design as Joyful Resistance  33
2. Robert Yang: The Politics and Pleasures of Representing Sex between Men  42
3. Aevee Bee: On Designing for Queer Players and Remaking Autobiographical Truth  51
Part II. Queerness as a Mode of Game-Making
4. Llaura McGee: Leaving Space for Messiness, Complexity, and Chance  63
5. Andi McClure: Algorithms, Accidents, and the Queerness of Abstraction  73
6. Liz Ryerson: Resisting Empathy and Rewriting the Rules of Game Design  81
Part III. Designing Queer Intimacy in Games
7. Jimmy Andrews + Loren Schmidt: Queer Body Physics, Awkwardness as Emotional Realism, and the Challenge of Designing Consent  93
8. Naomi Clark: Disrupting Norms and Critiquing Systems through “Good, Nice Sex with a Tentacle Monster”  102
9. Elizabeth Sampat: Safe Spaces for Queerness and Games against Suffering  113
Part IV. The Legacy of Feminist Performance Art in Queer Games
10. Kara Stone: Softness, Strength, and Danger in Games about Mental Health and Healing  125
11. Mattie Brice: Radical Play through Vulnerability  134
12. Seanna Musgrave: “Touchy-Feely” Virtual Reality and Reclaiming the Trans Body  143
Part V. Intersectional Perspectives in/on Queer Games
13. Tonia B****** + Emilia Yang: Making Games about Queer Women of Color by Queer Women of Color  153
14. Nicky Case: Playable Politics and Interactivity for Understanding  162
15. Nina Freeman: More Than Just “the Women Who Make Sex Games”  171
Part VI. Analog Games: Exploreing Queerness Through Non-Digital Play
16. Avery Alder: Queer Storytelling and the Mechanics of Desire  183
17. Kat Jones: Bisexuality, Latina Identity, and the Power of Physical Presence  192
Part VII. Making Queer Games, Queer Change, and Queer Community
18. Mo Cohen: On Self-Care, Funding, and Other Advice for Aspiring Queer Indie Game Makers  205
19. Jerome Hagan: Are Queer Games Bringing “Diversity” to Mainstream Industry?  215
20. Sarah Schoemann: The Power of Community Organizing  223
Afterword. The Future of the Queer Games Avant-Garde  233
Appendix. Queer Indie Games to Play at Home or in the Classroom  245
Notes  257
Bibliography  265
Index  271

Leave a Reply