There is some quality gay TV on the airwaves right now. According to GLAAD, about four percent of series regulars in the 2012-13 season were LGBT, many of them on massively popular shows like Glee. Similar things can be said of movies—recent films like The Kids Are All Right include queer love in their stories and receive Oscar nominations in return. The visibility of LGBT characters on TV and in film has had a stunning turnaround in the past 20 years, considering how taboo the subject of queerness has been historically. And, for me, it raises a question: where the heck are all the queer characters in video games?
How does being a wife and mother influence your engagement with the hobby, and the gaming community?
Early on in my time in the gaming community (and early on in my marriage), being a wife meant I was constantly on the defensive. I needed everyone to know that I was a gamer, not the WIFE of a gamer. I wasn't gaming because it was something my husband did. I wasn't gaming to be the weird nag of a wife who wouldn't let her husband have his own hobbies. I gamed because I loved it.
But, no matter how hard I tried, I'd have some dude come up to be at a convention and ask me point blank, "Did you write these characters? Or did your husband?" To this day, I'm never sure if those guys were actually asking me if I actually wrote my characters, or if they just trying to have me confirm that I was, in fact married. But it created an inherent self-consciousness about my identity as a gamer and drove me, in many ways, to separate myself from my husband to prove that I was, in fact a gamer.
As for being a mother? It makes gaming so much more amazing. There's nothing like spending time with a child to ignite your sense of wonder.
If you make roleplaying games, you're creating something for people to play. To engage with, experience, and share. But something I hear frequently from women in the gaming industry is their discomfort with self-promotion. I understand that, but it's a discomfort we have to leave behind—as women and as professionals. If you're uncomfortable with putting yourself out there, this is an important thing to discuss with yourself and with peers who are good at it.
Radical, feminist, nuns? Certainly not what I had in high school. These super sisters will be setting off on bus tour to promote and support Obama's Affordable Care Act and its no co-pay contraception mandate. [Ms. Blog]
ABC Family's Bunheads (because clearly, we need more shows made by white people about white people, right? RIGHT?) received some criticism from Shonda Rhimes for its lack of diversity. What else is new? Here's what's wrong and how/why we could do better. [XO Jane]
Earlier in the series someone commented that they were starting a Dungeons and Dragons group and were looking for suggestions on how to keep it feminist. As luck would have it, I've played a campaign or two of D&D in my time, so I loved the idea of writing about it.
Mallika Dutt is the founder and CEO of Breakthrough, an organization that "uses the power of media, pop culture, and community mobilization to inspire people to take bold action for dignity, equality, and justice." Breakthrough has been successfully integrating social justice messages with pop culture and media for years now, whether it's the 3D video game ICED (I Can End Deportation) or the ad campaign Ring the Bell, calling on men and boys to end violence against women. Their latest project is America 2049, an interactive Facebook game that takes place in the dystopic, but not-so-distant future. I spoke with Mallika about the process behind developing America 2049 and how her organization uses popular culture and media to start conversations about human rights.
A vaccination card from Ellis Island and a protest poster against INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services) reading "Fight Aids, not people with AIDS" aren't your average crime-thriller clues. But in America 2049, a new Facebook game tackling issues of racial profiling, immigration detention, sex trafficking, and more, they're not just pieces to a political puzzle, but actual American artifacts leading you to connect the past to dystopic future—with the hopes of changing our present.
I have to say, right off the bat, that I have had an outstanding time during this run. It is not often that so many topics of my interest come together in one place as they have here with so many people to discuss them. Gaming, like many elements of pop culture, is a great opportunity to look at many aspects of Social Justice in a broad spectrum, and I was most appreciative to the Bitch team here for giving me a space to present this topic for your amusement.
I've sometimes wondered if the key to getting better video games made is getting a diversity of people into the industry to help commandeer the production. "Just imagine," says I, "if we got together a diverse team of socially and progressively aware people in one room—surely things would even out and games would start to be friendlier to people who are not the so-called primary demographic." If only it were that simple.