Gaming in Color queer gaming documentary review

Gaming in Colour 2

Out of the closet and into the arcade! Gaming In Color is a full length documentary of the queer gaming community. Funded via a KickStarter campaign, the film received $51,158 from 1,026 backers and was released less than a year after their fundraising goal was met. Including the interviews with Colleen Macklin, Naomi Clark, Joey Stern, Matt Conn, and George Skleres, the film features a variety of voices from the video gaming industry spectrum, and 6 backers were even interviewed in the film as a bonus for pledging $500 or more to the project. The documentary can be purchased and viewed online and is purchased via a pay-what-you-want system, meaning there is no financial excuse for not checking this one out.

The film, which purports itself to be the first full length documentary to focus on the queer community in video games, does an extremely good job of addressing and explaining the variety of issues that the affect queer gamers. Though the information in the film is familiar to both queer gamers and their allies, it could be a valuable resource for those that are less involved in the issues at hand and desire to be educated. It can be particularly difficult at times for many queer gamers to express exactly why something that may seem at first glance to be an isolated incident is actually a larger problem that needs to be addressed. This can be especially true when discussing the issue of representation within games, as groups that consistently see themselves represented in media may struggle to understand how it feels to be almost entirely absent from the media you love. Also interesting is the illustration of how people “come out” as gamers, and how queer gamers can feel isolated in the queer community for being gamers and isolated in the gaming community for being queer. This feeling was much of the inspiration for the event GaymerX in San Francisco. While many people protest the use of labels or any perceived form of segregation, the film stresses the significance of the strength that be found in uniting under a label, and that you don’t need to be queer to attend an event like GaymerX, merely queer-friendly.

Unfortunately, there is still a large amount of homophobic, transphobic, sexist, racist, or otherwise bigoted language present in the gaming community, and it can be used alarmingly casually. Several of the people in the film describe the experience of gaming online and being surrounded by slurs that targeted their identity. However, when they would tell the person using the language that they found the words offensive, they would rarely stop, instead justifying their behavior by saying they didn’t mean the words in a bigoted way. This is a common belief among those in the gaming community that use such language; because they don’t intend their use of the words to be offensive, nobody should be offended by them. However, also discussed is League of Legends’ player discipline system, The Tribunal, where other players can vote on whether or not a reported player should be punished for their behavior. In the film, George Skelers, RIOT Games employee, explains that the use of the word “fag” almost always results in the banning of a player in The Tribunal system, indicating that the justification that many of those using offensive language use is not widely accepted by gamers. Examples like this are used throughout the film to help give it an overall hopeful tone that things are changing for the better in our community and will continue to do so.

Technically, the film remains visually interesting through the use of graphics and game footage, and it is put together well. However, the music provided by hip hop and video game composer “2 Mello” (Mathew Hopkins) can be very repetitive throughout the documentary’s 62-minute run-time. Also, there are multiple instances in the film where quotes appear on screen for too short of a time for them to be read, which can be somewhat frustrating. Audiences experience difficulty listening to and reading two different things at once.

The documentary is everything a documentary should be; it is accessible, informative, entertaining, and important. Best of all, the pay-what-you-want system means that is it a very easy film to get your hands on. This is definitely a KickStarter success story.

Grade: A-

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Genevieve LeBlanc
Genevieve LeBlanc 126 posts

Genevieve LeBlanc is a contributing writer for NerdReactor.com and lives in snowy Canada.