Creating and Queering Space with Player Housing

Perks Cover

With the shutdown of massively multiplayer online roleplaying game WildStar (Carbine Studios, 2014), many players are reflecting on the lost potential of the game. The game offered an interesting combat system, unique and playful character design, and most strikingly a deep player housing system. Now past its foreclosure, I want to reflect on the importance of player housing, and other building systems in games, that allow for players to create space and community within game worlds. Few games offer players the opportunity to impact their world in meaningful, creative, and unique ways, often instead having players move through expansive open-worlds or along a set narrative path. Continue Reading

(Re)Coding Survivance

Sovereign Video Games

Call For Papers

This call takes up threads of Indigenous Futurisms and Video Games Studies to weave a fiber-optic cable of survivance – (re)coding sovereignty into flowing non-binary streams of Indigenous-made video games and experiences.

As Anishinaabe, Métis, and Irish scholar and designer Beth LaPensée notes, Indigenous communities are already in a post-apocalypse, and “doing more than surviving. We’re continuing our traditions in ways that are malleable to the situations we’re in now”(qtd. in Creegan). We ask how these games can shift players to these media landscapes that are, as Loft says, “replete with life and spirit, inclusive of beings, thought, prophecy, and the underlying connectedness of all things that mirrors, memorializes, and points to the structure of Indigenous thought” (xvi). We also ask how they can – from internal and external positionalities – (re)code how we understand games and larger networks of connection and relationality. Continue Reading

Dark as a Dungeon

Fallout 76 and the Coal Mining Industry

Morrissette Cover

I was ten hours into playing Fallout 76 when it finally happened—a moment I had warily anticipated since I first learned the latest installment in the franchise would be set in West Virginia. My character, the self-styled Shotgun Nurse of the Wasteland, was descending into a coal mine. It was the final step in my character’s training before officially joining the Fire Breathers, a group of post-apocalyptic firefighters headquartered in the crumbling remains of the Charleston Fire Department. All that was left was to activate an emergency beacon located in the sulphurous depths of Belching Betty, the site of a subterranean mine fire that had raged for untold years. Continue Reading

Folk-Music, Radical Politics, and Bliss

Far Cry 5’s Music as Western Hymnody

Badra cover image

Music has the unique ability to bring people together and speak to them on a fundamental, subconscious level (for more on this, see Ehrenberg and From Lullabies). This aspect of music plays an important role in the narrative of Far Cry 5 (Ubisoft, 2018), as Joseph Seed, the game’s primary antagonist, uses music as a powerful tool for recruiting people into his doomsday cult, the Project at Eden’s Gate. Indeed, Far Cry 5’s music ties more closely with its narrative than any previous game in the series; by exploring its music, we may better understand the populist belief system that underlies Joseph’s “fringe” doomsday preaching. Continue Reading

Nonbinary

A Choose-Your-Own Adventure

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Follow the thread / of twine / to find / your way home / if home ever existed in the first place / We make space / for our breath / for our spines / that are bending / Breaking / the binary / of a binary culture / built on binary code and passcodes / passwords we are hacking / with our
Living, loving bodies Continue Reading

Possibilities for Queer Community-Building Through LARP

In-game photo by Karin Ryding from a Sweden Run in 2012

More than just trying to present an immersive, believable world, both games attempted to ensure that players were grounded in a sense of history. Moreover, by creating worlds dominated by queer issues, it was queer histories that rose to the forefront. Players were given the opportunity to gain some level of understanding of how being queer here and now directly related to the events then and there. Continue Reading

Intersexionality and the Undie Game

Harrer cover image

Fun. When game designers and scholars talk about it, we tend to treat it as the singular, universal product of all successful gameplay scenarios. What’s fun and what isn’t, however, arises from our situated experience as embodied, gendered beings situated within a specific cultural context. In this essay – half game post-mortem, half academic poem – I explore what fun might mean by drawing on queer subjectivity. I call this lens “intersexionality,” invoking Kimberlé Crenshaw’s (1989) notion of intersectionality to describe queer gameplay experiences beyond game industry standards. Continue Reading