Hello! As regular readers will doubtless have spotted by now, all this week, Eurogamer has been marking Pride Month - on this, its 50th anniversary year in the UK - with a series of features celebrating the intersection of queer culture and gaming. It's been an absolute privilege to have so many great writers share their enthusiasm, personal journeys, and visions of a hopeful future across the week, but for those that might have missed their musings, we've gathered everything together in one convenient place for your leisurely weekend perusal below.
Once again, many, many thanks to our stellar contributors (in order of appearance): Sharang Biswas, Ed Nightingale, Lottie Lynn, Eli Cugini, Alex Meehan, Dr Lloyd (Meadhbh) Houston, Caelyn Ellis, Robert Purchese, and David Gaider. Additional thanks to Christian Donlan for his ever-invaluable assistance behind-the-scenes, and to Lucy Grimwood for her wonderful Pride Week artwork and logo.
Eurogamer will, of course, continue celebrating the achievements of, and highlighting issues that affect, the LGBTQIA+ community in gaming throughout the year, but rest assured we'll be back with more Pride Month celebrations again in 2023. Until then, we sincerely hope you've enjoyed 2022's Pride Week offerings, and I'd be remiss not to end this introduction by noting that Eurogamer's Pride t-shirts are now back on sale - in two ravishing variants - with all profits being split between LGBTQIA+ charities Mermaids and Mind Out.
Pride Week: Fanfiction, fan-mods, and the joy of gay fantasy
Sharang Biswas helped launch this year's Pride Week celebrations on Monday with his occasionally saucy, always insightful piece Fanfiction, fan-mods, and the joy of gay fantasy. It saw Sharang revisiting a youth of pining for Dragon Age: Origins' Alistair - "charming, funny, disarmingly oblivious, and hot" - as he explored the power of fan-creation.
"Randy, technoliterate gaymers soon released mods turning the various romanceable NPCs in Dragon Age: Origins bisexual, including the himbo Grey Warden of my dreams," Sharang recalled. "Finally, my hours of complimenting Alistair and offering him little presents would result in the much-desired gay sex scene. A win for my nineteen-year-old spank bank."
Pride Week: Emi "Captain Fluke" on being the first openly trans esports caster
Tuesday saw Eurogamer's Ed Nightingale interview Emi "Captain Fluke" - esports' first openly trans caster - about the past, present, and future of LGBTQ+ representation in the industry.
"'It's definitely been an experience,' says Emi. '[Abuse] happens on a sort of day to day basis. It's something where...I hope [it's] a lot of just 13/14 year olds that don't truly hold those views, but just hold the idea that they want to say things to hurt people. They want to be edgy, they want to be confrontational. They're teenagers, and they feel invincible. I also know that there is a big community that, although it might not be vocal every single day, they look towards me and they look towards the rest of the LGBTQ+ community, and they see someone to get behind.'"
Pride Week: Experiencing the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ characters in RuneScape
Eurogamer guides editor Lottie Lynn picked up the Pride Week mantle on Tuesday afternoon with a personal piece charting her long relationship with massively multiplayer online game Runescape - one that's lasted 16 years and counting - and exploring the MMO's gradual shift toward becoming a welcoming space of queer inclusion.
"One of the greatest strengths of MMORPGs is that they're constantly evolving, from fixing graphical glitches to unveiling a new region, and the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ characters and their stories is part of this evolution," explained Lottie. "I hope we continue to see them in RuneScape, not just for long-time queer players like myself, but newcomers too."
Pride Week: On Difficult Queer Games
On Wednesday, Eli Cugini revisited Christine Love's acclaimed, if sometimes controversial, visual novel Ladykiller in a Bind, arguing for more tricky games about bad gays.
"In a time where minorities are harassed as engaging in 'cancel culture' for wanting to disengage with media that insults and degrades them, it's been made artificially difficult to talk about the joys of challenging art," Eli wrote. "We need games that are ambitious and complicated enough to do things wrong in interesting ways, and for games that divorce queerness from a demand for good representation and ethical practice."
Pride Week: Arcade Spirits: The New Challengers and exploring the joy in my bisexuality
More visual novel goodness arrived on Wednesday afternoon from Alex Meehan, who shared her experiences playing the recently released Arcade Spirits: The New Challengers and a very personal account of how it helped her explore the joy in her bisexuality.
"Despite including plot-lines that do centre around self-doubt and mental illness," Alex wrote, "queer identities are never the cause of this in The New Challengers. The queerness in the game is purely a source of joy for me: interacting with other queer characters, seeing them confident in their identities, it gives me courage."
Pride Week: Make cyberpunk queer (again) - a cyborg manifesto
Thursday morning saw Dr Lloyd (Meadhbh) Houston blow minds wide open with a battlecry, of sorts, to make cyberpunk queer (again).
"In a media environment in which the lives, experiences, and aspirations of queer people continue to be grossly misrepresented, often for profit and to serve strategic political ends, I am never going to complain about better representation, especially where it results in queer writers, developers, and performers being given the opportunity to make a living doing what they love," wrote Dr Lloyd. "But...in its interactivity, its networked connectivity, and its inherently trans-human dimensions, gaming also provides us with a potentially liberating opportunity to ask more daring and, above all, queerer questions about identity."
Pride Week: Dicebreaker recommends Thirsty Sword Lesbians - revelling in an unapologetically gay soap opera
Alex Meehan made a welcome return on Thursday afternoon, this time with her Dicebreaker hat on as part of a special Pride-themed edition of Dicebreaker Recommends - a series of monthly board game, RPG, and tabletop recommendations. Here, Alex invited readers into the messy, glorious world of tabletop RPG Thirsty Sword Lesbians.
"It can feel like a lot of pressure is placed on the queer community to act a certain way," Alex wrote. "As a queer woman, I can sometimes feel very self-conscious about the way others might view me or the reflection my behaviour might have on the LGBTQ+ community at large. However, Thirsty Sword Lesbians actively encourages the kind of outlandish and theatrical actions I'd possibly shy away from in real life. Obviously, everyone expresses their queer identity in their own unique way, but Thirsty Sword Lesbians gives players the thumbs-up to make a scene, profess a crush, and slap a dueling glove across a face, all granting a glorious escape from inhibition."
Pride Week: Real Virtual Selves
As our Pride Week celebrations regrettably began winding down for another year on Friday, Caelyn Ellis provided a gorgeous capper to a week of wonderful original features with a moving piece recollecting the early internet's game-adjacent social spaces and exploring how their growing complexity intertwined with her own personal journey.
"It's all too common for us [in the LGBTQIA+ community] to spend much of our lives forcibly suppressing our identities, hiding who we are from the public, our friends and family, or even from ourselves," Caelyn wrote. "Equally unsurprising, then, is the fact that we often turn to the internet when looking for spaces where we can belong. From modern social media stretching back to the bulletin boards and chat rooms of the early commercial internet, queer folks of all stripes have used this wondrous series of tubes to find information, resources, community, or just places where we can be ourselves."
Pride Week: It's Dragon Age creator David Gaider!
That still wasn't quite us done, however, and this year's Pride Week celebratons finally drew to a close with one last hoorah on Friday afternoon, courtesy of Eurogamer's resident chat master Robert Purchese. In a special Pride Week themed edition of the Eurogamer podcast, Bertie shot the breeze with David Gaider, the veteran BioWare writer who created Dragon Age and the studio's first exclusively gay party member, Dorian, and who's currently knee-deep in the development of brilliant-sounding role-playing musical Stray Gods: An Adventure Musical.