Review: Gaming in Color – A Documentary about Gay Gaming Culture

Gaming in Color

I did a spotlight on Gaming in Color‘s Kickstarter a while back, and the movie was released on April 22nd, 2014. The Kickstarter raised $51,158 of its $50,000 goal with the help of 1,026 backers (one of which was me!).

“Out of the closet and into the arcade! Gaming In Color is a full length documentary of the story of the queer gaming community, gaymer culture and events, and the rise of LGBTQ themes in video games.”

This is a high-quality, hour-long documentary that explores a lot of aspects of gaming as a gay person, what the industry can do to promote diversity, and what games are breaking away from the AAA norms. There are clips from games like Mass Effect 3 and The Last of Us that show main characters engaging in gay romance as well as footage from indie games made by the LGBTQ community (eg Anna Anthropy and Mattie Brice).

Many of the speakers talked about using gaming as an escape from bullying as kids, because games let you be whoever you want to be – but there’s also a real want to see themselves represented in a game, because they want to play as someone they are comfortable emulating. As one interviewee put it, he doesn’t want to be a stereotypical, alpha male soldier, but it’s really cool that Mass Effect allows him to be a gay man, with gay relationships. It feels like the game designers care and anticipate a diverse player set when queer characters are included.

Diversity in gaming is a huge, obvious problem, brings up another speaker, something that we at Nerdy But Flirty talk about a lot. A huge theme of the documentary is wanting more stories in the industry that represent more people. Straight white men have had their stories told thousands of times over every form of media. By contrast, one of the statistics brought up in Gaming in Color is that there are a little over 900 women protagonists in games since the beginning. How many LGBTQ characters can you think of? Not very many.

The documentary also talks about the attitude of some men that they “won’t play if they can’t play as a guy,” and someone says, well, what if I, as a woman, had that same perspective? My gameplay choices would be severely and artificially limited. There are also multitudes of online comments saying, “we don’t want gay content,” and you don’t see the reverse (“we don’t want straight content”) coming from the LGBTQ community. The goal here is not to eliminate the AAA white guy, but to make the stories more diverse.

The movie touches on harassment in online gaming as well as finding a safe space. GamerX, a gaming convention for gay people that is sadly not going to be continuing due to lack of funds, is mentioned, and there are interviews with con goers.

Gaming in Color is an engaging, informative documentary that anyone who wants more diversity in gaming should watch. I’m a very happy backer!

Score: A

Check out the official website here, where you can pay as little as $1 to watch/buy the movie! You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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Cast and Crew

Philip Jones – Director
Ryan Paul – Editor/Producer
2 Mello – Music
George Skleres – game engineer at Riot Games (League of Legends)
Colleen Macklin – game designer (The Metagame), Associate Professor in  the Department of Communication Design and Technology at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City
Matt Conn – founder and CEO of MidBoss, the company that put on the GamerX convention, creative director of MidBoss Games (upcoming Read Only Memories)
Naomi Clark – freelance game designer
Joey Stern – founding member of Geeks OUT
Jessica Vazquez – writer and video editor at GameRevolution
Shane Cherry – best known for his promoter work in organizing parties and events for the NYC Gaymers group
Matthew Michael Brown – won the second season of The Tester

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