Carolyn Petit interview — A proper reception for Queer Tropes in Video Games collection
Surprisingly, Carolyn Petit didn’t get quite a few hate this week. Petit changed into out in the front as the host of Queer Tropes in Video Games, a new video complaint series from Feminist Frequency.
The three-element miniseries examines the depiction of queers in games, similar to Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games checked out the representation of women in video games. Anita Sarkeesian, an award-prevailing critic who leads Feminist Frequency, directed the collection. After doing the series on women, Sarkeesian was subjected to massive harassment starting in 2013.
Petit serves because the dealing with an editor at Feminist Frequency, and he or she helped do quite a few the research for the miniseries, with the help of the LGBTQ Video Game Archive. Sarkeesian stated the series looks intently at the “history of homophobia and transphobia in video games, the evolution of portrayals of gay relationships, and the troubling ways wherein recreation villains have regularly been queer coded.”
You can see the whole collection on a playlist here, and I even have embedded the episodes on this publish. I talked with Petit about the making of the series. Here’s an edited transcript of our interview. The undertaking has a Patreon hyperlink in which you may donate to Feminist Frequency.
Carolyn Petit: The response to Queer Tropes has been accurate to date. There hasn’t been quite the flood of harassment and hateful responses that we frequently get when we put out movies approximately video games. It’s been pretty exact.
GamesBeat: That’s exact to listen to. I changed into worried approximately that.
Petit: Me too, me too.
GamesBeat: It’s a courageous component to be the host of that collection.
Petit: Well, I don’t recognize. Certainly, I’ve long been aware that setting myself out in the public eye as a trans girl in video video games frequently has made me the target of no small quantity of abuse and hate. But at the same time, I experience like I must use my position and my platform as great I can get to assign the attitudes in the gaming subculture that allow for that manifest, to make it better for people who can also come inside the destiny.
GamesBeat: What’s your very own background?
Petit: Formerly, I became an editor at Gamespot. I worked there for about four years. In that position, I constructed up a chunk of what you may call notoriety among a few segments of the gaming public due to the fact I criticized some of the misogyny in Grand Theft Auto V as an instance. After those 4 years, the website went thru a big duration of restructuring. Several other parents and I have been allowing pass.
I changed into freelancing for some time, and one issue I did at some stage in that length changed into consulting on a lot of scripts and tasks that Feminist Frequency becomes running on. Eventually, Anita Sarkeesian added me on complete-time as a body of workers member. My name there’s coping with the editor. Ever given that, then I’ve collaborated directly and been very concerned in all of the scripts and different writing that the business enterprise has produced. But this is my first time getting the danger of hosting a chain. I was very involved in the book of the series. The topic is close to and expensive to my heart, so I changed into happy to get the chance to personally host these movies.
GamesBeat: Did you do a number of the studies that went into this?
Petit: I did a correct amount of the studies, yes. A lot of it got here from my non-public memories of games. For instance, one in all my favorite, or I wager least preferred, examples in the series is an instance from Police Quest: Open Season. The game might name a transvestite, or a move-dresser ends up being ruthlessly killed through a police officer. That changed into simply something I remembered as a younger person gambling that sport. That and other times love it left quite an influence on me as a younger character who already sensed that I become queer.
I collaborated on the scripts. I co-wrote them with a grad pupil named Christopher Persaud. Christopher works on the LGBT Video Game Archives, an internet resource that’s full of examples of queer representation throughout sports records. His information became extraordinarily treasured in placing those scripts collectively.
GamesBeat: Who needed to gather all these pictures?
Petit: I usually had to seize that myself, or quite a few it. A few things we have been able to discover somewhere else. People had archived cutscenes and stuff like that. But numerous the photos I had to seize manually.
GamesBeat: Why did Feminist Frequency decide to head in this direction after completing the primary collection of Tropes vs. Women videos?
Petit: Anita may want to communicate to that better than I can; however, that is an assignment that’s been kicking around in her mind for a long time. It seems to me that this is the right time for this project due to the fact we’re at a second proper now where, on the one hand, queer representations have become immensely more magnificent ordinary in video games. Apex Legends launched with certainly one of its characters being a gay man and one of them being a non-binary individual. But you still have this superb backlash to those representations, as if depicting queer or trans people is inherently prompted by using some type of political timetable to soothe so-called “social justice warriors,” and now not merely due to the fact, queer and trans and gender non-conforming human beings exist and games have to replicate that.
The conversation around those representations may be very lots alive and really heated in the intervening time. I’m glad that we’re capable of having our say in that ongoing conversation around these troubles.
GamesBeat: How did your technique the division among the 3 episodes, the messages that each one was intended to hold?
Petit: One of the first things we did while conceiving the project — we knew we had a constrained price range and a restricted quantity of time. This wasn’t going to be a Tropes vs. Women 14-episode epic that became going to span years. We wanted to hone in on regions that would supply us loads of fabric to paintings with and factors to be made, thoughts that we could follow not just to video games but to our culture at massive.
We settled on these very early. Queer-coded villains, for instance, there’s a lot to work with there. The way video games use humor, or “humor,” and different factors create an atmosphere of homophobia and transphobia. And then of queer route relationships. Each of these gave us plenty to speak about in phrases of examples on providing and allowed us a more substantial factor to make.
In the episode on homophobia and transphobia, we get to talk about humor and punching up in place of punching down. So many human beings will say, “Well, if you don’t love it, just don’t play it.” We were able to deal with why that’s no longer a significant response to these criticisms. We wanted to make sure that we had something of substance to mention around each of these subjects. That’s why we went with the one’s unique themes.
GamesBeat: With queer coding, how quickly did you encounter that as one of the styles you desired to point out?
Petit: I’m a huge film fan. I knew something about the records of queer coding in cinema already. From the very start, I knew that games definitely do that too. I idea it’d be thrilling to make that connection — here’s something that has a whole long history in cinema, and then as quickly as games were given state-of-the-art sufficient phrases of the characters they were capable of creating and the memories they were capable of telling, video games lifted that proper out of cinema history and beginning doing it too.
That was in large part my influence. I locate the whole topic of queer coding of villains, or the hinting of queerness as something inherently evil or chaotic, something that needs to be eliminated from the sector — I merely find the complete records of that during media charming.
GamesBeat: There are high-quality depictions of the queer community as correctly. I think about some modern-day games like The Last of Us, the Left Behind DLC as an example. Have you discovered lots of those wherein queer characters are dealt with as ordinary?
Petit: We’re indeed at a point wherein that’s becoming a ways extra not unusual, that’s notable. It’s so crucial, and thus validating for myself and such a lot of different queer humans who have loved games our complete lives, to finally begin seeing our very own identities at least every now and then contemplated lower back at us in this medium that we love so much. Dream Daddy is cited at duration in one of the movies. Games massive and small are an awful lot greater regularly, inside the beyond few years, years, providing us with queer characters which might be human, that are 3-dimensional, that are complicated, which have their personal desires and their personal relationships and their personal complex personalities, that aren’t there just to be the butt of a comic story or to demonize queerness or transness in some manner.
GamesBeat: I experience that there have been several recreation developers who have been welcoming this kind of consulting or recommendation about a way to depict queer characters. I recall Michael Condrey on Call of Duty talking about how he had an interesting communication with Anita about depicting women in Call of Duty. Neil Druckmann from Naughty Dog had something similar to say.
Petit: I assume a part of what’s occurring right now could be that groups like Blizzard, for example, which has over the years revealed that a number of the heroes in Overwatch are queer — they realize that giving us as queer human beings heroes that we can take a look at and identify with is well worth enduring the volleys of hate from that subset of video games who say things like, “You’ve made Overwatch homosexual propaganda, so I’m no longer going to play it anymore.”
However a whole lot of noise those people make, within a long time it’s a great deal higher to mention, “Our community welcomes and represents and reflects everybody,” instead of hold catering to the straight male demographic perspectives illustration of queer human beings as an act of hostility toward them for some ridiculous cause.
GamesBeat: It looks like we’re at a kind of crossroads. There’s a greater welcoming of this form of massage. However, there’s also a backlash. From the President of America down, several humans are being encouraged to overtly come out with their hate. It feels like you’re doing this at a thrilling second.
Petit: I do view Trump being in the White House as part of a backlash using white those who felt disenfranchised or who felt the preservation of white supremacy in the United States perhaps simply beginning to slip a little bit. It’s a reaction that got here from an area of fear and lack of knowledge that Trump truely capitalized on and stoked. That propelled him into the White House. But I’m positive. I agree that we’re making development during phrases of large problems of racial justice and gender justice. The forces that propelled Trump into the White House may be a type of final hurrah. However, they’re not going to win in the long run.
Similarly, with video games, a few segments of gamer tradition react to the work that we do with so much vitriol and a lot of -worries absolutely does communicate to me that those human beings feel threatened. They sense scared by the thought that gaming won’t be totally a hundred percent for them anymore, that now not every recreation goes to be about directly white men saving a attractive girl or something. Gaming is expanding and evolving to tell extra exclusive forms of stories about greater exclusive kinds of humans.
You in no way make development in any tradition or lifestyle without there being a backlash. As tough as the backlash often is to endure, and it’s far very tough to bear at instances, part of me also has to view it as a sign that we’re preventing the right battles, and we’re fighting the one’s battles efficiently. If we weren’t, the ones people wouldn’t experience threatened. They wouldn’t sense the need to lash out at us.
GamesBeat: If human beings are inspired by using this in some manner and want to help your motive, is there anything they can do properly now?
Petit: We just released a new Patreon at Feminist Frequency. Folks who may additionally need to support our work can go to patreon.Com/femfreq. It’s specially indicated as assisting our podcast; however, honestly, the help we get there can assist with all of our initiatives.