For more than 30 years, LGBT themes have been incorporated into the world of video games — both from the developers themselves and through fan modification.
This December, that history will be showcased at Schwules Museum Berlin in RAINBOW ARCADE, an exhibition featuring a wide variety of multimedia exhibits including playable titles, concept drawings, fan modifications and documentaries.
The exhibition will explore contemporary pop culture questions of representation, stereotypical and discriminatory narratives in entertainment, and how video games have facilitated social discourse and discussions over the years.
“Catalogs like this one are going to be absolutely vital for making sure that the history of LGBT games is visible in the future for people who are starting to research video game history,” Zoyander Street, new media artist and developer said.
This also marks the first time that the LGBTQ Game Archive will be presented in a museum. The Archive is an extensive history of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer content in video games, organized by Adrienne Shaw from Temple University Lew Klein College of Media and Communication.
“I've been doing research on LGBTQ issues in games for a long time (13 years in fact), and can tell you this will be the most comprehensive publication on the history of LGBTQ content in digital games, key moments in mainstream and independent game production, and queer gaming communities,” Shaw wrote in an email.
The museum will launch a crowdfunding campaign on September 18 on Kickstarter to fund a catalog for the upcoming exhibition. The goal is to raise enough funds to produce and ship 1,000 copies (about $29 each). If successful, the catalog will be the first comprehensive introduction to queer gaming history and will contain and present the extensive research behind the RAINBOW ARCADE and LGBTQ Game Archive.
For those unable to make the trip to Berlin, the catalog will offer a standalone reading experience appraising and contributing to the ongoing conversation on diversity, representation, discrimination and politics in popular culture.
“Now more than ever, it is important that we work to preserve the rich, creative legacy of the LGBTQ community around the world, so that colorful threads are woven into the tapestry of our planet’s cultural history,” video game developer C. M. Ralph said.