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EBR: What is Queer Game Studies?

By Jason Lajoie
Electronic Book Review

Queer Game Studies (Bonnie Ruberg and Adrienne Shaw, editors)This decade has witnessed an increased focus on representing, discussing and experiencing difference in video games. Queer Game Studies, the first games studies volume to focus exclusively on LGBTQ issues, offers a broad, often interconnected queer critique of games and games studies. The contributions situate themselves against an increasingly vociferous opposition in some gaming communities that threatens to foreclose discussion and dissuade difference. The volume is also an important intervention in games studies. Especially so, when one considers that LGBTQ studies in game cultures have often been excluded in academic discourse. Even The Routledge Companion to Video Games Studies (2014), which boldly proclaims on the back cover to “provid[e] students, scholars, and game designers with a definitive look at contemporary video game studies” (emphasis mine) includes neither a reference to sexuality or queerness; the very words queer, homosexual and trans don’t even appear in the book, while lesbian is mentioned once in that 544 page volume. My intent is not to chastise, nor to quibble with an ill-phrased marketing blurb, especially since the book is indeed comprehensive in many other respects, and a worthy addition to games studies scholarship. The entries on “Femininity” and “Masculinity” are useful inroads to this discussion, for example. The omissions are nonetheless startling given the rich profusion of queer game scholarship, and makes Queer Game Studies all the more needed. The numerous perspectives within this collection each dare a radical rethinking of games and play, particularly in domains where such an approach is characterized as an intrusion, feared as an encroachment, and articulated as an attack on the assiduously protected play domains by those seeking to categorize who is truly a gamer, and what truly constitutes a game. In other words, queer is here in games studies.

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