- Queers at Play, Transformative; Blackness and Queerness in Ferguson, Electric
HBO’s Looking aired an episode this season entitled “Looking for Glory” in which pretty protagonist professional game developers Patrick and Kevin take their gay game app and romantic relationship to the next level at Gaymer X, a queer gaming convention founded in 2013 by Matt Conn. Conn and others deeply invested in the pathbreaking and fraught work of addressing intersectional issues of sexuality and gender in the aggressively straight, white, male, masculine, cis, and ableist world of gaming expressed gratitude for the visibility and accuracy of Gaymer X in the episode. And no doubt many of the show’s devotees were pleased-as-prom-punch that the closing moment offered a happy ending (in an otherwise serious episode about POZ relational and sexual intimacy and the straining of a longstanding “fag/hag” relationship—we’ll leave the representational politics of Looking for another issue) depicting Patrick and Kevin declaring their love for each other and disavowing the negative review of their gaymer love child, “One Up Him.” Our favorite moment, by contrast, occurred upon arrival at Gaymer X in an encounter with their booth neighbor, Brent, who was promoting an app called “Glorified” that cultivates, in his words, “social networking for the orally adventurous.” Brent is unimpressed with these homonormative handsome boys in their matching zippies, and from his chair throws some provocative, thickly and performatively sardonic, queer crip shade:
“One Up Him.” Is that a Reese Witherspoon movie?
Uh, no, it’s actually a matching game where different kinds of gays battle each other.
Different types of gays. Bears vs. Twinks. [End Page v]
So, your game’s about stereotypes?
Well, no, it’s more about subverting stereotypes.
Ah, got it. It will be interesting to see what you and your brother think “subverting” means.
The Essays and Queer Conversation in this issue of QED are devoted to the subversive worldmaking possibilities of queer gaming and queering game studies. From diverse perspectives and experiences, and through diverse modes of gaming, contributors expose and resist the heteronormative and homophobic culture of gaming, a culture that recently has manifested in some particularly ugly backlash against those who have offered earnest and ethical interventions against difference in gender, sexuality, race, ability, affect, relationality, and sociality. Against these diminishing and disheartening, and sometimes dangerous constraints, these authors critically and creatively, fiercely and joyously, explore how queerness in games and game studies might productively trouble and transform the meanings and doings and material implications of play, desire, fun (and no fun), identity, community, coalition. In keeping with QED’s mission, we have assembled here game organizers, developers, theorists, and, of course, players in the same pages, believing as we do that GLBTQ worldmaking is afforded its best promise where boundaries between domains are reduced, where no queers may claim monopoly.
Also in this issue guest Forum editor Jeffrey Q. McCune, Jr., powerfully convenes a group of scholars, students, activists, artists, and preachers at the intersection of blackness and queerness in Ferguson, Missouri, where Michael Brown’s “queer rendering” by Officer Darren Wilson reflected and constituted the state of racial violence in the United States, and where those protestors who went to respond, so many young people of color, generated what McCune describes as “a queer enclave of folk.” Through poetry, personal narrative, sermon, and critique, the unique and eloquent voices in this Forum in their own insightful and moving ways queerly render Ferguson through their experience, embodiment, engagement, and ekphrasis.
This issue closes as always with absorbing reviews of diverse GLBTQ publications.
We close by expressing our gratitude to Sarah Beth Evans, who was our editorial assistant while a master’s student in the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies at Syracuse University, and is now a doctoral student at North Carolina State University. As we began launching this special issue, our experience with queer gaming was limited to a long-ago [End Page vi] adolescent crush on Matthew Broderick in WarGames and hours spent playing Pong and Atari. Through her...