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The Queer Games Library

Queer Me, or The Queer Games Library, is a digital game library that works to curate video games as queer experiences for young people. The Queer Me library presents young users with a selection of video games (as well as a few other multimodal digital texts) which offer the opportunity to explore diverse gender and sexuality expressions; that is to say, games which offer, in some form, a queer perspective through play.

Video game platforms are unique technological spaces where social practices take place around specific interests - they have also been traditionally most popular with young people. Games themselves, each with their own interactive narrative structure, can therefore become critical tools for young people to encounter, explore, and try out diverse queer identities, as well as playfully theorise new, queer perspectives on the world. The Queer Me library is an attempt to create an archive of these tools, and curate them for users according to their level of queer experience.

By adapting a diversity metaphor originally suggested by children’s literature scholar Rudine Sims Bishop[1], The Queer Games Library curates its digital video games into three categories: Queer Me, Queer You, and Queer World.

Queer Me games offer users the opportunity to experience or construct their own specific gender/sexuality expression through gameplay: character design or development, play choices, events selection.

Queer You games offer users the opportunity to explore the queer perspectives of other individuals or groups through gameplay: character interactions, play choices, events selection.

Queer World games offer users an entirely alternate worldview through the construction of a gameworld that is in some way queer or representative of queer perspectives.

We call this the Q3 system! Site moderators use it to categorise suggested games based on gameplay and research data before adding them to the digital archive.

One of the benefits of using the Q3 system is that it can easily be understood and adapted as a model for training new moderators of the Queer Me site. The amount of information - both visual and textual - available in a single video game can sometimes make it difficult for site moderation to decide whether or not a game should be included in the archive. This is a challenge that must be taken into account as the project is developed, but we believe that the clarity and simplicity of the Q3 system makes it an ideal tool for use by new, and possibly untrained, moderators. Ideally, the system could be taken up by the young users of the site, so that the Queer Me community becomes a self-moderating gaming ecosystem.

The aims for the site are pretty simple: we want to bring queer resources to young people, and in so doing promote games and game developers who are working to bring better representation to the industry. As the field of gaming continues to explode in popularity and size, we hope that offering a digital space where young game enthusiasts can find, share, and communicate about queer games will help shine some light on LGBTQ+ identities both within the world of games, and of game makers. At the very least, we hope that our archive gives young people a better chance to see themselves reflected in the games they play.

Short term goals for Queer Me include expanding the games library to encompass a broader range of queer games, and developing comments sections that allow users to discuss their experiences with the games through the site. We also aim to add a blog where discussions around gender, sexuality, the queer community, and gaming can take place. Long term goals include producing content (videos, interviews) that showcases some of the members of those communities, and organising in-person events to bring them together. This could include young game enthusiasts doing play-throughs, game developers and designers discussing or demonstrating their process, or discussion panels and conferences with experts in the field on issues of queerness and gaming.

Though the LGBTQ+ community are increasingly visible in the 21st century, it isn’t hard to find spaces and places where queer identities are still marginalised, diminished, and even feared. The Queer Games Library hopes to make a space within the world of gaming where young people can have safe and positive experiences with queerness, regardless of their gender or sexual identity, by promoting queer perspectives through play.

[1] Bishop, R. S. (1990) Mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Perspectives. 6 (3), ix–xi.

Contact thequeergameslibrary@gmail.com to find out more.