Space, Navigation, and Queerness in Gone Home; or Toward a Queer Spatiality

Kennedy Cover Image

The house’s spatial design mimics moments of secrecy and Foucauldian confession in interpersonal relationships; that is, things are only hidden in order to be discovered (Foucault 20-1). This is maybe most apparent in the game’s map mechanic, in which spaces are revealed only after they have been discovered in-game by the player. The map indicates which rooms have yet to be explored, but does not reveal the purpose of unexplored rooms. This continues to do the work of de- and re-familiarizing the player with the domestic space as well as creating a drive to explore the house and “collect” all the rooms. This mechanic is not unique to Gone Home, and is particularly common in first-person horror games. It’s one of many horror mechanics and tropes used in the game—perhaps because in this sense, the work of making something queer is similar to the work of making something creepy or uncanny. Both work to make that which should be familiar unfamiliar. 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

Queer Games Studies Special Issue

Queer Special Issue Pod Banner

 Betsy Brey: Welcome to a special edition of the First Person podcast. This week, we’re introducing a queer games and queer making special issue, edited by Jess Marcotte. This special issue was funded by a SSHRC Connection Grant and we… Continue Reading

An Interview with David Brevik – Part 2

It Lurks Below

Jeffery Klaehn: What possibilities afforded by the contemporary gaming landscape most excite you? I’m thinking of technological developments and digital distribution platforms such as Steam (2003) and GOG (2008), which are still relatively “new” in relation to the history of digital games.

David Brevik: It’s an extremely exciting time to be a developer. Being able to create something and distribute it all around the world from your own home is amazing. But because it’s so easy, the market has been flooded with people doing just that. There are hundreds of games a day on mobile app stores, and 30+ games a day on Steam. There is so much content right now, it’s impossible to wade through all of the games. Continue Reading

Designer Lenses

A Review of Jennifer deWinter’s Shigeru Miyamoto

shigeru-edit-2

“Beware of Heroes.”

Frank Herbert offers these words as an overarching thesis for his novel Dune, which chronicles the exploits of Paul Atreides as he rises, unwittingly, to his destiny as an intergalactic messiah, fuelled by prophecies of genocide he can foresee, but can no longer forestall. Continue Reading

The Game Jam

Creativity and Community

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 2.23.56 AM

Game jams are not without controversy. Ostensibly a community-based event that fosters enthusiasm and creativity, game jams do not always reflect these ideals in practice. As the lead organizer of two game jams in Waterloo, Ontario, I’ve had the opportunity to develop a perspective on what this event is—and no, it doesn’t live up to its hype, but jamming is not a terrible idea. The enthusiasm, creativity, and community promised by game jams are important and needed in a performance-obsessed society, and although game jams do not always deliver on these ideals in practice, they have the potential to do so. Continue Reading

Design and the Broken Game:

Wayfinding and Affordance in Shelter

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 7.25.55 PM

Shelter is a game about figuring out what the hell to do next. You play as a mother badger trying to guide her children to a new den. Gameplay consists of roving across predatory landscapes, securing food in the process, and feeding this food to your kids. This sounds fun. For me, it was not. Continue Reading