This March, at the Society of Cinema and Media Studies Conference in Chicago, Teddy Diana Pozo, Whitney Pow, and I put on a pretty rad panel that explored the relationship between video games and queer affect.
It’s an area of research that I’m really excited about, and (if all goes according to plan) you’ll be seeing more from me — and from my amazing queer game studies peers — on the subject in the months and years to come.
If you didn’t make it to the panel, that’s ok, because the transcript of my talk is now up online. It’s called “Feeling for Others: Video Games and the Uses of Queer Affect.” Here’s the talk in PDF form. If you’re interested in games, queerness, and/or affect studies, I hope you’ll check it out!
To give you a taste, here’s a little excerpt from my discussion of empathy, which owes a lot to the smart, insightful queer game-makers I’ve been talking with as part of my Queer Games Avant-Garde project:
To say that queer media exists in order to allow straight people to inhabit queer experiences is to describe and condone appropriation. The notion of empathy, as it is being used, makes queer lives consumable. It offers players the opportunity to play at queerness – to become, to use Lisa Nakamura’s term, identity tourists. Empathy also names a kind of embodied colonialism – the occupation of queer bodies – which is understood and indeed celebrated aptly through metaphors of bodily invasion — like “stepping into someone’s shoes” or “seeing through their eyes.”
In this sense, the rhetoric of empathy does a kind of violence to queer experience – while also refusing that same queer experience its right to resist. Insisting on empathy as the main affective register of queer games strips these games of their less acceptable, less “relatable,” and more dangerous emotions – like queer anger and queer desire – using the hegemonic policing of affect to render them safe for the status quo.
You can read the whole presentation here. And if you’re interested in video games and queer affect too, get in touch. I’d love to chat!