Beyond texts: Using queer readings to document LGBTQ game content
Keywords:queer reading, digital games, LGBTQ representation
Queer readings of texts allow audiences, queer or not, to see the possibility for queerness in media that does not explicitly name LGBTQ identities. At times these readings are intended by creators but they need not be, as audiences themselves help establish the queer potential of texts through their own reception practices. Studying queerly read content in media necessarily requires moving beyond a singular textual object, as authorship, fandom, and reception practices are all central to identifying queerly readable content in media. Yet scholarship on queerly reading digital game texts has largely relied upon close academic readings of the text itself. Drawing on our ongoing project documenting a large number of games with LGBTQ or queerly read content, herein we argue that given the unprecedented access to fan queer readings online communities make available, we can expand our methodological toolkit for documenting this content. Specifically, rather than considering fan queer readings as data to be analyzed on its own, we argue that these sources can be read alongside game content and producer statements as evidence of queerness in game texts. That is, by moving beyond the text, scholars can address a larger scope of queer reading practices as well as properly value fan work. We conclude that queer readings available in these spaces allow us to archive and preserve queer reception activities, but also allow fans actively shape the meaning of these texts.
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