The presenters for this session have been working on both the construction of digital archives/databases and analysis of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) digital game content covering the past three decades of game history: www.lgbtqgamearchive.com and www.queerlyrepresent.me. For the first 15-20 minutes of this session the presenters will discuss the research and analysis of the LGBTQ video game archive project and Queerly Represent Me database. We will talk about how both projects began, what they include, and what early findings we have based on qualitative and quantitative analysis of the LGBTQ characters and relevant content in games from 1985-2005. We will also discuss the process of making publicly available research resources.
The remainder of the time would be spent walking attendees through the process of doing this type of research through a series of small group activities. We will go over the difficulties of discerning video game characters genders and sexualities (as well as race and class markers) with some specific examples chosen from the archive. Finally, we will use small group activities to illustrate the medium specific concerns in analyzing LGBTQ game content including the procedural rhetoric of same-sex romance options, the limitations of gender options in character design, and the contingent nature of LGBTQ representation in games where non-player characters’ backstories are revealed only if specific player actions in the game occur.
Our primary goal is that attendees will take away from this session a greater understanding of the complexity of analyzing LGBTQ game content, and the myriad ways gender and sexuality are made relevant in digital games. Moreover, we hope that they will be empowered to do their own original research on LGBTQ game content (either contributing to our existing archives or by starting their own public research projects). Finally, building on the goals of both projects we hope to bring attention to the long history of LGBTQ content in digital games as a way of helping all of us invested in game culture imagine new possibilities for future representations.
Adrienne Shaw is an assistant professor in the Department of Media Studies and Production and a School of Media and Communication graduate faculty member. She is author of Gaming at the Edge: Sexuality and Gender at the Margins of Gamer Culture (University of Minnesota Press, 2014) and co-editor of Queer Game Studies (University of Minnesota Press, 2017). Her work has appeared in the International Journal of Communication, New Media and Society, Critical Studies in Media and Communication, Games and Culture, Ada, among other journals as well as in several edited anthologies.
Evan Lauteria is a PhD student in sociology at the University of California, Davis, where he also works in the UC-Davis ModLab. He is the co-editor of Rated M for Mature: Sex and Sexuality in Video Games (Bloomsbury Press 2015), and his writing has appeared in Reconstruction and Analog Game Studies. His dissertation explores the organizational and industrial history of Japanese video game companies in the 1980s and 1990s, with particular attention to globalized industrial expansion, games localization and marketing, and corporate collaboration.
Christopher Persaud is a senior undergraduate concentrating in Sociology, French, and LGBT Studies at Temple University. His research interests broadly include queerness, popular culture, identity construction on/through digital mediums, and the social dimensions of new media technologies. He aspires to pursue graduate school opportunities in Media and Communication Studies sometime in the near future.
Alayna Cole is a lecturer in Serious Games at the University of the Sunshine Coast and a doctoral candidate in Creative Arts (Creative Writing). She works in the games industry as a researcher, developer, and journalist, and has presented her work at the Joint Conference of Serious Games, Digital Games Research Association of Australia conference, and the Australasian Association of Writing Programs conference, as well as conventions such as the Penny Arcade Expo Australia. Alayna is the founder and curator of the QueerlyRepresent.Me database.