Special Issue of Game Studies: Queerness and Video Games
Image Credit: Michael Holden, http://michaelholden.com; Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelholden/4494481572
After literally years of planning, writing, reading, editing, and collaborating, I am pleased to announce that the flagship journal Game Studies has published a special issue on Queerness and Video Games, which I coedited with Bonnie Ruberg.
We’re both incredibly proud of what this issue has to offer to the academic conversation on games, and as someone who has spent a lot of time in my career thinking and writing about disciplinarity, I am struck by the significance of launching an issue of this kind in a journal that was one of the hotbeds of inflammatory rhetoric in the narratology vs. ludology debate and that launched “year one” of our discipline in the language of fending off colonization of the field by English and film studies departments. I have a lot more to say about this in my forthcoming book, but it is no coincidence that the so-called “identity knowledges” of feminist, queer, and critical race theory are only now gaining traction within game studies.
At the same time, I have some reservations about hitting the big time, so to speak. In our introduction, “Not Gay as In Happy: Queer Resistance and Video Games,” Ruberg and I discuss our misgivings like this:
This is an exciting moment for queer game studies, but also a slippery one. As an emerging paradigm, queer game studies is still new: molten, pliable, fiery. Yet that means it risks hardening, growing disciplined (i.e. regulated, codified, normed) as it strives for a recognized place within a larger discipline. To uphold the very ethos of queerness, we must seek ways to allow this work to shift, to veer, and even to revolt against itself. We must resist the desire for a disciplinary stamp of approval.
Being seen and represented in media or in our disciplines is a wonderful thing, but if we simply stay happy with receiving our ticket to entering the privileged systems of power to which we have historically been excluded, then we’ll only ever reproduce the same exclusionary power dynamics that kept us out in the first place. Once you get in, you should look for ways to bust out the windows. Give generously your flying fucks.
As I advance in my career I’m always trying to find new ways to unbalance myself and keep from getting comfortable where I am. This looks different for everyone. For me, it comes in the form of enacting a politics of citation that challenges the norms of white supremacist capitalist cisheteropatriarchy, finding ways to redistribute the institutional resources to which I have access, rethinking teaching practices and norms like grading, and pushing my colleagues to do the same. This issue is one manifestation of that work.
I hope you read and enjoy and learn from the issue, and that you feel free to question and push us in the directions we need to go. Every journal issue is a community endeavor, and this one comes thanks to the efforts of many many folks in game studies who helped us at every step of the process, from the journal’s staff and editors to the writers themselves, to the anonymous corps (and really, there were a lot of you) of reviewers who gave valuable feedback to every piece we received for consideration. Thank you for making this a real thing in the world.
Ruberg and Phillips, “Not Gay as in Happy: Queer Resistance and Video Games” [Introduction]
Dym, Brubaker, and Fiesler, “‘theyre all trans sharon’: Authoring Gender in Video Game Fan Fiction”