Researchers Talk the Exciting Rise of Queer Representation in Games

Hey, folks! This is Jess Zammit and Alayna Cole (who has written for FemHype before) from Queerly Represent Me, and we’re excited to share some new projects with you! 

If you haven’t heard about Queerly Represent Me, we’re a research organization focused on exploring representations of sexuality and gender in games, and supporting queer folks who love to play games or who work in the games industry. We create resources and speak at conferences about queer representation, and provide links to all sorts of wider reading that cover a wide range of topics.

We also maintain a database of games that feature queer characters and themes. It currently includes over 800 games, and we’re adding more all the time (with the help of our readers who provide tips about what games we’re missing).

Researching awesome queer content has inspired us to create more ways of connecting with our wonderful community — people like you! If you’d indulge us, we’d love to share some of the games we’ve had the joy of researching, the ways they inspire us, and the new projects we’re working on.

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Queerly Represent Me: Favorite Representations of Sexuality

Dragon Age

[PART 1] [PART 2] [PART 3] [PART 4[PART 5]

In May 2016, I conducted a survey across social media that encouraged respondents to discuss their favorite and least favorite representations of sexuality, gender, and relationships in games, as well as examples of pronoun use and character creation systems. The survey received over 150 responses, the data from which has been used to inform this five-part series for FemHype, as well as the ongoing development of the Queerly Represent Me database.

It is important to note that many of the same games were discussed in both the ‘favorite’ and ‘least favorite’ sections of the survey—often for the same type of representation and sometimes even by the same respondent. For example, the Dragon Age series featured in the top five most common responses across all ten of these questions. It is difficult to represent diversity in a way that works for everybody, and as such, you may disagree with the opinions of those who suggested the below games as positive examples. If you have your own favorite representations that have not been featured in this series, I’d love to hear about them!

Favorite Representations of Sexuality

Respondents to the survey had strong opinions regarding representation of sexuality, expressing exhaustion with the overwhelmingly heteronormative themes that have been prevalent in games until quite recently. Many respondents wrote paragraphs explaining why particular representations were important to them and their own identity, and expressed a desire to see more characters who resembled themselves or people they know, or identities that they simply felt were under-represented in media more generally.

When asked what forms of representation people would like to see more of, asexuality was the most-mentioned sexuality. A general desire to see more characters who have their own assigned sexualities rather than being ‘playersexual’ was also frequently expressed.

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It’s Dangerous to Go Alone! Take This: Motivational Quotes From Games

The Legend of Zelda

I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly needed a few reasons to push through the past week or two. When the going gets really rough, I turn to a few of my favorite characters from games for motivation, and you know what, it actually helps! So, naturally, I asked Melissa for a little extra help on this assignment. After all, I could only pull so many quotes from Dragon Age before this became a love letter to Varric. (Been there. Done that.)

From everyone’s favorite storyteller to the wise words of a former spy, you just might find that one of these quotes will inspire you to keep fighting despite what life may be throwing at you right now. Never forget: you will get through this. And if you need to reach out to someone, please take a look at these resources. They’re all free, and always available to you in case you need a hand!

With that, let’s move on to the quotes. If you don’t see your favorites here, drop it in the comments! I’d really love to update this list with your picks as well. That way, we can create something truly meaningful (and maybe even a little bit fun!) together. What d’you say?

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At Rest: On Idle Animations & The Poetry of Sitting in Games

Dragon Age

Wednesdays are tough. Just ask Krem. It can be difficult to push through when you’re feeling down (or up, if you’re on a chair), and while video games can help with that, I’m starting to notice an interesting trend: other characters are being allowed these moments, too. This started to occur to me as more and more Life Is Strange tweets like this one have been cropping up on my timeline, offering a few minutes to sit, relax, and contemplate. But what if there’s more to this whole sitting thing than meets the eye?

I’ve seen a few major publications cover the phenomenon in games. Most of them are funny, as with Polygon’s take on the trend. It’s the idle animations, however, that seem to generate the most press. There are entire articles dedicated to this subject, though quite a few of them seem to focus on classic games of yore. And if you’re more the modding type, there’s no end to available idle animations over at Nexus Mods. You could really spend days sorting through all the different ways your Skyrim character can move once you’ve stepped away from the keyboard.

What’s so interesting about a playable character at rest, you ask? Quite honestly, I’m still asking myself that question, but this aspect of games is really fascinating to me. I’ve reblogged enough of Lara’s idle animations to serve as a love letter at this point. There’s Hawke, too, who twists and stretches and shifts—almost as if she couldn’t keep still if she tried, a force perpetually in motion. Harry would even glance back at the screen when you’d left him standing in the corridor too long, his Gryffindor robes swirling dramatically around his ankles.

These idle animations are all reflections of the characters themselves, but what if the act of sitting was a chance for us, the player, to cede control?

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Blanket Fort Chats: Game Making With Laurene Desoutter

Image courtesy of Laurene Desoutter
Image courtesy of Laurene Desoutter

Blanket Fort Chats” is a weekly column featuring women and nonbinary game makers talking about the craft of making games. In this week’s post, we feature Laurene Desoutter, a Paris-based 3D animator most recently known for animating for DONTNOD Entertainment’s Life Is Strange

Miss N: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Laurene: My name is Laurene Desoutter. I’m 24 years old and I just finished my studies in a 3D animation school in Paris, France. Before that, I went to a high school specialized in Fine Arts. Since I was a kid, I’ve always been passionate about drawing, playing video games, and reading history and fantasy books. I kind of always knew I wanted something related to that when I grew up. 

Miss N: How did you get involved as an animator working in games?

Laurene: Well, since I was in a 3D animation school, part of our assignment was to find an internship in an animation-related studio (movies, advertisements, games) for at least six months. Although [at school] we learned all the steps of producing an animated movie—like designing concepts, modeling/texturing characters, and environments, etc.—my thing was definitely the concept and animation parts. So when I heard that DONTNOD Entertainment was searching for a 3D Animator Intern, I applied for the position right away! That’s how I got started.

Miss N: What’s your earliest memory of playing games?

Laurene: Hmm. I think my earliest memories of playing games was when I was about five, maybe? My father and uncle would always play Soulcalibur at home on the weekend. I remember the first time my dad allowed me to use the controller and play a round with him. I just started pushing all the buttons in order to beat him! It was so funny, I think it was literally the first time I ever played a video game.

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