Videofag and Team Vector collaborated for Queer Arcade last weekend, a two day exhibition of queer games ranging from a Half-Life mod about gay marriage counselling to playing a lesbian spider-queen from Mars recapturing slaves.
I adore queer indie games. As a newcomer to indie culture in general, the concept of queer individuals taking back the game medium they didn’t see themselves reflected in and exploring critical gaming was mind-blowing. Below are a few games I played at the Queer Arcade.
Fetish Fish by Leo Heath – Using a Dance Dance Revolution dance pad, you control a high-heeled fish, strolling through roads swarming with lecherous cats. Simple, cute and pretty funny to watch people stumble on the controls as their fish counterpart gapes like. Well. A fish.
Lesbian Spider-Queens of Mars by Anna Anthropy – A good old-fashioned revolt leads the queen of mars to show those topless green-skinned slaves who’s boss. The highlight of this game is how naturally it looks and feels like an arcade game from the ‘80s. Addicting gameplay, catchy music and retro art don’t hurt either.
HIGH END CUSTOMIZABLE SAUNA EXPERIENCE by Porpentine —Text shakes! Glows! You hack cupcakes using only your choices and the words on screen! You haven’t played a Twine game until you’ve played one of Porpentine’s. She creates powerful pieces of interactive fiction using the program Twine, hypertexts that squirms your insides in a gross, great way.
PsXXYborg by Hannah Epstein, Sagan Yee, Alex Leitch – Guys. This game, guys. This. Game. I’m still reeling from what glitched-up, flesh-hating things I saw in this van.
Complete immersion in PsXXYborg – trapped in a van swathed in white sheets, playing with a tablet and a large projected screen, android mask staring from behind it – achieves a state of disorientation you don’t get in most games. The game asks you questions like “which animal onscreen reminds you of your mother” and “which liquid seeps ominously from the undercarriage of this vehicle?” (your choices are blood, oil, semen, vomit or all of the above). PsXXYborg plays with concepts of cyborg and feminism; with interactivity and lo-fi art; with you, long after it has shoved you outside the van, into the harsh sunlight.