While sexism and homophobia persist in the mainstream gaming industry, a “vibrant scene of queer game developers” has emerged. This month, several members of that community are combining their talents into one video-game cabinet that will be unveiled at Bushwick queer space The Dreamhouse.
When it makes its debut at The Dreamhouse’s monthly Ova the Rainbow party, the Queer Matrixxx will feature eight games custom designed by “queer, trans, gender-nonconforming, and non-binary game devs.” The games were commissioned by the folks behind the Death By Audio Arcade, the roving collection of indie game cabinets that grew out of Williamsburg DIY space Death By Audio and has since popped up at places like Elsewhere.
Mark Kleback, founder of DBAA, explains that the idea for Queer Matrixxx arose during the planning stages of DBAA’s residency at the Dreamhouse, which begins with an opening party tomorrow, May 12. (Eight of DBAA’s games will be available for play throughout the month, including Drink Rink, a table-top game where players block their opponents’ shots with their beer cans; the residency culminates with the unveiling of Queer Matrixxx on May 26,)
— Eddie Cameron (@eddiecameron) May 6, 2018
As members of DBAA and the Dreamhouse discussed making a new cabinet that would match the venue’s ornate interior (the Dreamhouse’s gilded mirrors and carved-wood pillars used to belong to Wyckoff Manor, an events hall), they realized that they should probably also commission some games for it.
Among those who’ve been tapped to create those games are Fernando Ramallo, whose previous effort, Stakes Are Too High, finds a Mario-esque character trying to navigate the surreal world of health care; Juno McClure, whose Mastering Tedium game simulates the Sisyphean task of doing laundry; and Josie Brechner, a composer and designer who recently made a simple but heartbreaking interactive animation that recreates her break-up with her partner of three years. Also in the mix is Robert Yang, a professor at the NYU Game Center who came up with The Tearoom to simulate the tension of cruising a public bathroom under threat of police harassment. Yang also created a trio of games that center on (in his words) “spanking the heck out of some dude,” “pleasuring a gay car,” and “giving a hunk a helping hand” in the gym shower. That series was made for Different Games, an annual conference on diversity and inclusivity in the industry.
Not even Kleback has seen what exactly these indie developers are creating for the Queer Matrixxx, though some, like Eddie Cameron, have offered glimpses on Twitter. To find out for yourself, snag tickets for the closing party on May 26. Or drop by the Dreamhouse anytime after that; the cabinet is expected to be a permanent fixture there.