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Calling all gaymers: new exhibit explores the queer history of video games

Calling all gaymers: new exhibit explores the queer history of video games

A new exhibition is exploring the rich history of queer themes and characters in video games.

Schwules Museum, the most popular LGBTI museum in Berlin, has launched new exhibition Rainbow Arcade to include the LGBTI history of video games.

As the name suggests, the exhibition leads its visitors through different section highlighted in different colors. The exhibit covers more than 30 years of queer content in games through fan art, memorabilia and video interviews with designers.

The last part of the rainbow tour will also present several playable contemporary LGBTI titles.

Queer content in games

The exhibition was curated by Adrienne Shaw with Jan Schnorrenberg from the Schwules Museum and German gaming journalist Sarah Rudolph.

Shaw was also responsible for the rediscovering of 1989 explicitly queer game Caper in the Castro, by developer CM Ralph.

The game takes place in San Francisco and the protagonist is a lesbian detective, Tracker McDyke. She will need to solve the disappearance of her friend and drag queen Tessy LaFemme.

Moreover, Shaw created the LGTBQ Video Game Archive website in 2016, the first attempt to catalog queer content in games.

‘Until the archive, there just wasn’t a historical understanding of LGBTI content in this medium,’ she told The Guardian.

‘It makes it really easy to forget that this kind of content has always been in games.’

Ellie in The Last of Us Part II
Ellie identifies as lesbian in The Last of Us Part II | Photo: YouTube/PlayStation Europe

According to their website, ‘the exhibition will be taking stock of contemporary pop cultural questions of representation, stereotypical and discriminatory narratives in entertainment media, and our cultural memory.’

‘A love letter to games’

This will also be the first time a museum will show the research by the LGBTQ Game Archive.

‘Rainbow Arcade is special because it explores the intersection of queer history and game history, two distinct areas of contemporary culture that have been neglected and underestimated for a long time and therefore haven’t been archived really well,’ explains Schnorrenberg.

‘It is actually one of the very first sociopolitical video game exhibitions ever and many video games and designers that we are featuring have never been shown in a museum before.’

Schnorrenberg also said the exhibition is ‘a love letter to games’.

‘For all the horrible things that have happened, there are also people who develop video games as therapeutic measure – to explain themselves. I just hope that people who go to this exhibition get to feel what an extremely interesting culture exists here.’

Rainbow Arcade: Queer Gaming History 1985-2018 is at Schwules Museum, Berlin, until 13 May.

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