Queer Indie Video Game Showcase Is a Gaymer's Delight

Local video game showcase Fantastic Arcade supports indie queer games

Games have come a long way since Pac-Man, as the saying goes, and queer games have come an even longer way. Monthly video game social event Games Y’all, coordinated by Museum of Human Achievement’s Fantastic Arcade, will be showcasing queer indie games during this year’s Austin Studio Tour through Nov. 12-13 and Nov. 19-20.

A Games Y'all event at Museum of Human Achievement (Photo by Jay Roff-Garcia)

Austin’s games industry scene has been on the rise since the 2010s, and included in that growth are local LGBTQ game developers whose work deserves eyes and controllers connecting to it. Digital Arts Coordinator Jay Roff-Garcia says that they’d like to see the local scene support queer game developers through increased integration in physical spaces around town. “An arcade cab can live anywhere!” they explain. “I would love to see them all over town and make playing/finding queer games that much more accessible.” Coby West, a Games Y’all board member (and, admittedly, a friend of this writer) adds that they’d like to specifically see these integrations happening at queer spaces. “This would both create a space for more queer art to be made,” they say, “and introduce more folks into the weird space that is indie games.”

MoHA Director of Digital Arts Rachel Stuckey adds that with Fantastic Arcade, and by extension Games Y’all, makes a point of showcasing games and interactive media made by folks underrepresented in the field, like BIPOC, queer, and women developers. “Austin game venues and game studios can support queer players by acknowledging we exist and aren't a monolithic demographic,” she says, “and by bringing queer voices into decision-making roles.” Both Stuckey and Garcia agree that the absolute best way to support Austin’s queer game makers is by buying their work and actively engaging with the games. However, West also points out that local streamers can help boost visibility by playing LGBTQ-made games, as well as those in the games industry visibly showing support for the community through banning hate speech and promoting queer games.

Armed with a few ideas on how to support queer-made video games, you might be asking yourself where to start when it comes to actually playing the games. Here’s a few recommendations certified by the Games Y’all board as being worth the bandwidth:

Rachel Stuckey’s recs:

Gender Dysphoria by Exodrifter

Stuckey describes this game as a well-written, well-designed narrative game that details the local ATX developer’s experience coming out as trans. “I recommend this one for its compelling non-linear structure, great voice acting, and vulnerability,” Stuckey adds.

Traumagotchi by Lark VCR

This net-project earns a comparison to Neopets from Stuckey, though with a dark magic twist. An online shrine for spell-casting and healing via the virtual world, this project “acknowledges online life as part of ‘real life’ by making space for users to process trauma and practice self care,” she explains.

Jay Roff-Garcia’s recs:

Raptor Boyfriend: A High School Romance by Rocket Adrift

A cryptid dating sim, aka a game where you get to romance different creatures through selecting responses and actions with subsequent consequences, Garcia says the art of Raptor Boyfriend is super cozy. “I love to recommend this game to those who haven't played any dating simulator or simulator type games,” they say, adding “[Who] doesn't want to fall in love with a cryptid?”

Coby West’s recs:

Celeste by Maddy Makes Games Inc.

This platformer – a game that requires the player to jump to different points in the environment – isn’t just about scaling great heights. West describes the game as a beautiful and difficult story about “overcoming your inner demons and facing your anxiety head on.” Together, they say, “[the] difficulty of platforming goes hand in hand with the difficulty of its themes.”

Bugsnax by Young Horses

Can a monster catching game be queer? According to West, the society in Bugsnax is “beyond heteronormativity” (lucky!) They say, “Queerness is implicit in the world and isn't commented on beyond simply existing.”

Catch Games Y’all with tons more queer video game ready to play at their Queer Indie Game Showcase at Museum of Human Achievement this month, Nov. 12-13 and again on Nov. 19-20. Want to submit a game or interactive media to Fantastic Arcade for showcase? Check out their submission form on fantasticarcade.com.

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LGBTQ, Games Y'all, Fantastic Arcade, Museum of Human Achievement, Austin Studio Tour 2022

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