Gaming in Color: The Queer Side of Gaming

Being a part of a community.  Having a safe place to express oneself.  Playing with diversity. Finding an identity.

Reviewed by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move 

Devolver Digital Films and MidBoss have just digitally VOD released a feature documentary, Gaming In Color, which explores the queer side of gaming.

Directed by Philip Jones, the award-winning film takes a look at the queer gaming community, ‘gaymer’ culture, and the increasing acceptance of LGBTQ themes in video games. The film, which won Best Documentary at the Gen Con 2014 Film Festival, explores how the community culture is shifting and the industry is diversifying, helping with queer visibility and acceptance of an LGBTQ presence.

According to the new documentary Gaming in Color, for longer than anyone has realized, much less non-gamers, gaming has been a place where young people learn practical skills like multi-tasking, music, even finance, and above all, how to socialize in the real world.  

Focusing on “representation”, this 61 minutes film talks about the profound influence of games on attitudes and the identity of gays, a more 360 view apart from and inclusive of sexuality.  Totally filmed in interviews, the dialog tends to be repetitive, but we are dealing with highly intelligent people, logically reasoning about the hot indie games scene, the creators of the games themselves and on controversial subject matter. 

Gaming in Color addresses the every day stigmas of simply being a gamer, being labelled a “geek” a “freak”  and how the entry of queer games has created on one hand a whole anti-gay movement within games and on the other, opened the door for GaymerX, the Comic-Con for this group.

Because gaming however, is still mostly a heterosexual universe, for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or otherwise queer/questioning gamer, it is also another place where they experience bullying.  As the two worlds continue to mesh within this bubble genre, the solace these groups are seeking within games is becoming explosive and the gaming industry is stuck in the middle of the struggle for voices, fans and sales.

Ultimately, though gaming is interactive, accessible, engaging and inclusive in a way that other parts of culture are not, for young gay men and women, it is a place where they can “come out”, see themselves inside a story, create a story and be included, because games, as an invaluable tool for self-expression, contain possibilities and opportunities for looking at the world in different ways. 

At only 51 years old games have the potential to shift thought culture entirely.


Gaming In Color: A Feature Documentary that Explores The Queer Side of Gaming

Directed by Philip Jones

Ryan Paul is the cinematographer, film editor, and a producer.

The film’s producing company is MidBoss, which organizes the GX game convention (formerly GaymerX) and will also be releasing the upcoming queer-focused adventure game Read Only Memories.

MidBoss CEO Matt Conn is featured in the cast and is also the executive producer of the film.

Gaming In Color’s digital VOD release can be found on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, PlayStation, Xbox, and Vudu, with other major platforms. 

Gaming In Color features a queer-identified cast from across the gamer community including Colleen Macklin (Associate Professor at Parsons & game designer), George Skleres (Riot Games engineer), Matt Conn (MidBoss CEO & GaymerX/GX founder), Naomi Clark (game creator), Joey Stern (founding member of Geeks Out), Jessica Vazquez (journalist), Shane Cherry (NYC Gaymers event promoter), and Matthew Michael Brown (activist & reality TV star). Anne Clements, of Idiot Savant Pictures, served as a producer.

Remix artist and video game soundtrack composer 2 Mello (aka Matthew Hopkins) created the film’s music, which incorporates a variety of game sounds. Footage from the inaugural GaymerX event, which is primarily focused on the gay gaming community and LGBTQ issues, is also featured in the film. The film was partially funded by a Kickstarter Campaign, which raised $51,158 from 1,026 backers. 

The film has screened in nearly two dozen locations at festivals and events in the U.S. and abroad.

The film and cover art were also seen onscreen in an episode of HBO’s Looking. Upcoming screenings include the History of Gender in Games conference in Montreal, Canada on Friday, June 26, 2015.

Philip Jones, Director & Producer
Philip Jones is a game developer, event coordinator, community manager, and now film director living in Fort Worth, TX. As an active queer gamer and activist, Jones has a deeply personal stake in this project. Jones believes diversity and positive representation of marginalized people in video games, both in industry development and community culture, are things that can be achieved through passion and hard work. Jones hopes that Gaming In Color will be used as an educational tool that succeeds in promoting these goals. This is Jones’ first film. Apart from Gaming In Color, Jones works as an employee of MidBoss as both the lead scripter and assistant writer for upcoming cyberpunk adventure game Read Only Memories as well as the exhibitor director for the queer-focused game convention GX (formerly GaymerX). Jones also enjoys watching professional wrestling and being a real life bear cub.

Ryan Paul, Cinematographer, Film Editor & Producer
Ryan Paul is an independent producer, editor, and documentarian, always looking for a new story to tell. A self-proclaimed gay geek, ex-Mormon, and Canadian-American, he adores geek culture, science fiction, film, games, and exploring new corners of the internet. Previous professional affiliations include AlleyWire, Here TV, and the University of Utah. Previous projects include developing a series of videos on New York Fashion Week for, shooting, editing, and developing graphics for For and Against, and shooting, editing and post production for the Homotional Rescue PSA series. He lives with his husband in New York City, where they drink too much coffee and contemplate moving to Seattle.

Matt Conn, Cast & Executive Producer
Matt Conn is best known for being the founder and CEO of MidBoss, the company that also puts on the GX game convention (formerly GaymerX) that seeks to create a safe space for LGBTQ identified gamers. He is also the producer for MidBoss’ upcoming cyberpunk story adventure Read Only Memories, which seeks to include queer characters in a positive way through the narrative of an interactive experience. Read Only Memories is set to release on August 18, 2015. Conn is a major leader of the fight for queer inclusion in video games and directs all MidBoss projects from San Francisco, where he lives.

2 Mello (aka Matthew Hopkins), Composer
Matthew “2 Mello” Hopkins is a remix artist and soundtrack composer who chews up samples and neat sounds to create his music. He is most well known for Chrono Jigga, a mashup album with Jay-Z’s lyrics mixed with handcrafted beats sampling the Chrono Trigger soundtrack. After producing three albums as a solo artist, he was signed to the online, non-profit label Scrub Club Records. Recently, he began a career as an indie game composer and is now working on the soundtracks for Dawn Of Time, and MidBoss Games’ title Read Only Memories. He has been featured in articles on, Kotaku, The Verge, Polygon, and Destructoid. 2 Mello was thrilled to create the music forGaming In Color so that he could “put a melody to the lives and passions of so many gaymers.”

MidBoss is a gaming, tech, and geek culture company based in San Francisco that focuses on alternative and LGBTQ lifestyles that encompass gaming culture. Under the MidBoss banner, projects like the GX convention (formerly GaymerX), Read Only Memories, GXdev, and Gaming In Color endeavor to create a better gaming community for queer geeks. The company’s goal is to create a safe space for everyone who loves games, where they can enjoy and express themselves through games however they choose. Everyone games.

Devolver Digital
Based in Austin, Texas, Devolver Digital distributes independent video games and guides indie filmmakers through digital distribution and film promotion. Devolver Digital’s outspoken passion for independent games, developers, and fans has earned the company no minor measure of game industry notoriety. With its expansion into film, which was announced at South by Southwest 2013, the company applies that same fiercely creative devotion and digital content expertise to support and celebrate indie filmmakers and projects. Co-Founder and Partner Mike Wilson says his own experience as a filmmaker seeking distribution led him and his partners to expand Devolver Digital into film. That experience has guided the company’s focus on “hand-crafted” strategic partnership and personal attention in distributing the titles on the label to a full range of digital and cable VOD platforms.

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