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January 28
2015

#JamForLeelah, a Trans-Positive Global Game Jam!

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A new month-long trans-positive game jam is currently underway and accepting submissions for games focusing on trans youth issues, in order to spread awareness of the issues faced by transgender people in modern society.

#JamForLeelah was organised by Matthew Boucher and Kara Jayne , in response to the recent suicide of Leelah Alcorn, a 17 year old transgender girl who struggled with her gender identity – especially when it came to her parents, who reacted in an extremely negative way to Leelah’s coming out by refusing to accept her regarding her gender, making her attend therapy sessions with Christian therapists, and placing heavy restrictions on her life; feeling as though she would never be able to get the life she wanted, Leelah took her own life, leaving behind a suicide note on her Tumblr with a final message that the Jam organisers have taken to heart:

“The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say ‘that’s f***ed up’ and fix it. Fix society. Please.”
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December 19
2014

A different kind of Sophisticated Gent: a look at Dorian Pavus

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Note: This is the second in a series of articles exploring the diverse cast of BioWare’s Dragon Age: Inquisition. The following contains details from all points of Dorian’s sub-plot in Dragon Age: Inquisition, including his ultimate romance sub-quest.

Characters who are members of marginalised classes often get a raw deal when it comes to personal storylines, narratives and histories. Gay characters, for example, often occupy a very tricky position in media: focusing too heavily on the fact that the character is gay can make them seem trite, stereotyped or farcical; however, downplaying, dismissing or outright ignoring their sexuality and its impact on their lives can be detrimental for wholly other reasons, making them “gay enough” that the character counts for some token diversity, while not being “too gay” to cause any boredom, discomfort or disgust in bigoted audience members, who can then relish the character as one of those character who’s gay, but like, it’s not even a thing, and that’s some real good gay representation there. Or, y’know, maybe not.

Dorian is the first companion in Bioware’s Dragon Age series who was specifically written for, and will only romantically engage with, a male protagonist. Although this may seem like just a cursory piece of programming – a “rainbow” flag, if you like – the inclusion of a gay male character whose sexuality IS totally, like, a thing, is powerful: even moreso when the storylines that focus on their sexuality are impactful and meaningful, but at the same time not a trope-laden rehash of irrelevant, inappropriate or misunderstood aspects of gay identity as we’re so often obliged to be thankful to receive.

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November 21
2014

Preview: Read Only Memories

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romss1
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MidBoss‘ upcoming cyberpunk adventure game Read Only Memories – or ROM – is due for release next year, and, to give would-be players a little taste of what’s to come, they’ve released a playable demo over on their website – and we’ve taken a look to tell you what you can expect from this teaser.

In ROM, you find yourself on the cusp of a story of intrigue and secrets as a cute personal helper robot which has broken into your home informs you that his owner, a former friend of yours, has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. As a journalist in Neo-San Francisco in 2064, you are best placed (according to Turing, the aforementioned robot casually disregarding property laws) to find out what happened to your friend.

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November 7
2014

Second Chances: An Interview with Dale Lazarov

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Dale Lazarov is a gay comics writer, well known in gay-geek circles as being the smut lord responsible for unleashing hardcover and digital gay comics like MANLY, BULLDOGS and STICKY into our world, available over at http://www.dalelazarov.com/. Since his most recent release “Second Chances” with Foxy Andy and William O. Tyler came out last month, we caught up with him to talk a little about his new comic, his approach on creating comics and the politics involved, as well as getting a glimpse of what Dale’s bringing into being in the near future.

Fair warning: there are some NSFW links and discussion below, as well as some (censored) NSFW images!

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November 3
2014

GG on GG: The Problems with GamerGate

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[Editor’s note: Given the touchy nature of this article’s subject, and the very real instances of harassment that have been connected to those involved with it, comments will be disabled. While normally we encourage a wide variety of viewpoints, including ones we may not agree with, to be shared on our posts we do not want to risk the safety of our readers, community members, or contributors. However it would be irresponsible of us to not comment on the issue at all, both as an LGBT-focused gaming site and as a gaming site at all. For anyone who has been lucky enough to avoid the GamerGate story thus far, here is a recap via the Washington Post that manages to cover things.]

I want to open with a nice, objective statement that I can be sure won’t dissuade specific groups of people from reading on ahead, taking the time to read what I’m saying, and critically engaging with the points I’m raising: but to be honest, fuck GamerGate, and fuck the people who choose to align themselves with it in spite of all the horrendous things it’s been responsible for.

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October 7
2014

Quiet Queers: LGBTQIA+ Invisibility in Games

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There is a problem in videogames of LGBTQIA+ characters whose queerness is silent.

This isn’t to say that all LGBTQIA+ characters whose gender or sexual identity is only mentioned in-passing are inherently bad, or are examples of bad writing; sometimes, the most interesting, effective and emotionally-engaging way to state something about a character is to understate it.

The problem is that “invisible queerness” – queerness that is effectively absent in a text except for authors stating it outside of the text (e.g., Dumbledore in Harry Potter), single lines ad-libbed at the end of the text as an afterthought (e.g., Gobber in How To Your Train Your Dragon 2), or going utterly unspoken but hinted at through vague allusions, nudge-wink stereotypes and plausibly-deniable overtones (e.g, most queer characters during the first and second millenium CE).

So long as their queerness isn’t intrusive, or doesn’t require players to talk or think about queerness in any but the most basic terms, they’re lauded as being exemplars of the entire LGBTQIA+ spectrum.

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June 26
2014

An Interview with Dani Landers of Studio Fawn

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Dani Landers is one of the four members of Studio Fawn, the creative team behind Bloom: Memories, an upcoming game set in a strange and beautifully-crafted world designed to evoke feelings of adventure and exploration, as well as including emotionally-involving storylines using game mechanics and themes that the larger games industry tend to avoid. Bloom has already seen a very successful Kickstarter having met (and exceeded!) their target goal, and their continued progress in developing the game is documented over at the Studio Fawn website. Dani’s role at Studio Fawn encompasses game design, art, writing and marketing, and the world of Bloom stems from her own creative vision.

We caught up with Dani to ask her a little about her vision for Bloom,  her experiences as a game developer, and her thoughts on the contemporary games industry.
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