Audiences and Experiences: Reading Week 11

Gaming Representation: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Video Games, Malkowski, J. and Russworm, T

Speaking about The Last Of Us in a way that focuses around the black characters is a take on TLoU that I haven't read about or heard about before, even when speaking in depth about the game with friends of varying 'minorities'. It does make me think that even though on the surface black people (and other minorities) are featured often in video games now, their stories and character in a lot of cases are subservient to the plot or to other characters. On the flip side of that, using TLoU as an example, many of the white characters in the story were also "presented without a diegetic awareness of their racial and cultural backgrounds." I wonder to what extent people would rather it be though, as to me forcing stereotypes outside of the bounds of the story has the potential to ruin an otherwise great story.

"Yet the fact that Marlene’s identity as a black woman does not ever come up in the countless online debates about Joel’s decision is also significant in a game that pits Ellie’s humanity and right to live against Marlene’s"

I can't decide if this is meant to be a good thing or not. If I were pressed to choose, I would say they are saying it is a bad thing people are not discussing Marlene's race, whereas I would argue it is a symptom of people not looking to see the race of a character to inform them of whether they deserved to live or die, but rather looking at their actions as a person and how they act and react to the story they are a part of.

I actually discussed this with my sister, who had some great thoughts about whether the quote above should perhaps be interpreted taking into account the authors race(s) as well as taking into account that in the world we live in, some people might find it incredibly important that the race of the person involved is discussed.

“Queerness and Video Games” special issue, III Charles E. Morris and Thomas K

Queer Worldmaking Games: A Portland Indie Experiment

Every Indie game I have played has taken risks that traditional companies usually would not take. Little quirks or large additions that might make them unpopular to masses, but popular within a certain circle or minority are what make some indie games fantastic. Even smaller developers with larger publishers are able to take risks. But AAA games do not. They use a formula they are comfortable with to pump out game after game with traditional story telling and societal norms baked into their soul. I cannot fault them for that, it is what makes them money. In some cases changing tack could kill a company.

Infact a few years ago I remember a company announced they either cancelled or delayed their games because they were following the same formula and needed a change, and this mere announcement without any other information caused their stock to drop significantly overnight.

This talks volumes to how changing a formula, whether publicly or not, will affect a large company with lots of prying eyes. Indie developers have the benefit of not having a formula in the first place, and it is this that gives them the freedom to experiment to create wonderful and inclusive tales.

On a personal note, I am glad that more AAA games are not pushing queer or otherwise LGBT stories and characters as much as some would like as I feel it could come across as disingenuous and pandering to a particular audience in some of cases.

Engineering Queerness in the Game Development Pipeline, Freedman, E

I found that this article implied throughout that there shouldn't be a wrong way of doing something, that "queer" in this context is not in relation to gender or sexuality but rather refers to openness and freedom, and I totally agree with that. Teaching someone that one way is the right way is inherently how teaching is conducted. Taking from my experience, I hated being told that the way I understood complex mathematical calculations was wrong, even though I was arriving at the same place as everyone else. Being able to share, design, create in whichever way without being bound by societal norms is hugely important and I hope this grows and becomes more and more a part of not only the game industry but other industries as well.

Author

Jaz

Game developer who studied at Solent University with some truly amazing people. Now studying a Masters of Game Design at UCA Farnham. Also Co-Founder of Stack Interactive.


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