Indulgence. Wish fulfillment. Healing.
I want to be the Lisa Frank of game design.
Not aesthetically. I don't want to make the game where you rainbow unicorn until you do something risky then roll a d20 to see if you succeed or fail. I want to make the game where you unicorn until you rainbow then you roll rainbow dice to decide how many unicorns you are.
BUT ALSO I wonder if I can make queer games. Is it enough to make games that stuck up cishets will look at and find too cringeworthy. Or is a game only a queer game when its design actively rejects gaze of patriarchal values and gender norms. But the insidious nature of patriarchy is such that its gaze is forced over all regardless of rejection. The Wachowski Sisters made an entire film about coming out as a trans woman, and violently misogynstic cis men appropriated its mythology into an extremist right wing political movement. Estrogen pills somehow became a symbol of men rekindling their masculinity.
Maybe the problem with the Matrix was that it was never explicit. Well how about our own darling, Monsterhearts? A game that explicitly tells you, your sexuality is not your own. That anyone can roll to turn you on. But even here, patriarchy is reinforced. Time and again I hear people praise Monsterhearts as "it's like Twilight but good". "I heard it was a game based on Twilight and to my surprise I actually enjoyed it". Monsterhearts does nothing to deter people from weaponising the game itself to draw a clear line in the sand of 'this femininity is good and that femininity is bad'.
(Twilight is deeply racist and misogynistic and spawned that dreadful 50 Shades. But more often than not, that's not what people mean when they say it's crap and certainly nothing of value can come out of 'cringing' criticism.)
Is it possible to make games that challenge people's bigotry? Is that a worthwhile goal to strive for, is it not enough to simply make games with queer content for queer players and simply not fight against audiences coming despite queer content? That we don't make games that challenge people's bigotry, is that evidence that the bar is too low? Should we have been doing that already? The Big Publishers have set the trend of putting a gay NPC in an adventure module or rulebook illustration and then creating a play experience that completely contradicts that anyway. Should we choke the life out of the Big Publishers before they choke the life out of us? Have we gone too soft subsisting on the breadcrumbs off the table of mainstream media?
What does it mean for a game to be queer and how can I make my games about cute baby monsters into queer games? How can any of us make queer games?
I can't remember who originally said this. But "queerness has not happened yet". How do we make it happen?