Gaming In Color Reviewed
By Marcus Estrada
Video games are something that a vast amount of people are able to enjoy. Young, old, married, African American, hearing impaired, straight, genderqueer, Caucasian, disabled, Catholic, Democrat, and so many other labels are all interacting in the gaming world. Yet, the stigma of gamers as a homogenous group of teenage to twenty-something year old cisgender white males pervades. Many within the community themselves assert this notion despite copious evidence otherwise. Gaming In Color is the first major documentary that focuses on showcasing the fact that gaming isn’t a hobby for one type of person. LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer) players fit into the spectrum as well!
Gaming In Color focuses its lens squarely on the LGBTQ scene because otherwise it would be far too vast a project for one Kickstarter success. Of course, the fact that this community still receives a lot of grief in gaming helps show how warranted such a documentary is. The wonderful cast helps spread a message of acceptance for queer gamers and speaks hopefully about a future for queer games both in and outside the mainstream.
Big names such as Colleen Macklin discuss the systems at play within games and how they serve as amazing teaching tools for players. Folks such as George Skleres talk from a developer’s perspective about being both geeky and gay. Naomi Clark further expounds on these topics by sharing the disconnect between queer and gaming spaces and how they were finally able to reconcile them. Even journalists such as Jessica Vazquez are interviewed to share their perspective as to why LGBTQ conventions and content in games are important.
The cast of Gaming In Color speaks eloquently as to why representation in games is not something to ignore. It was especially impressive how they worked in very insightful responses to typical objections about such content. I can’t say if the vocal trolls, troglodytes, and confused gamers will watch this documentary to begin with, but hopefully so. They are the people who need to hear this discussion most. Viewers like me are already “converted”, so to speak, on these issues.
What I found unusual about this discussion was both an apparent reverence for transgender gaming content but with little discussion of gender beyond genderqueer. Gameplay footage of Dys4ia and Mainichi were showcased, as well as videos of prominent trans game developers but the topic was rarely breached. Genderqueer, intersex, and trans issues are important, although they don’t fit nicely into the sexuality bubble like lesbian, gay, bi, straight, etc, do. Honestly, talking specifically about trans and other gender experiences in relation to games would easily fill its own documentary.
Getting to watch Gaming In Color was as exciting an experience as it was uplifting. I’ve gobbled up a great many gaming documentaries over the years and never expected to see one focus squarely on the topic from an LGBTQ perspective. The sheer fact that it exists is amazing. Of course, it’s very much worth watching, too! The hour-long documentary is “pay what you want” granting gamers of varying financial status access. LGBTQ gamers, allies, and those simply curious to learn more should definitely give Gaming In Color a watch.