Hello again, everyone! This is Frances, from the narrative team. As one of the queer devs here at Pie Trap, I wanted to write a little post wishing everyone a happy Pride Month! I, myself, am a cis lesbian and use she/her pronouns.
Since my last blog post, two characters I've written have been announced: Quinn and Malia! I'm so excited by the warm response we've gotten on their announcement posts. Quinn especially is near and dear to me as our first nonbinary character in Forage Friends. I hope I've done both Malia and Quinn justice. I can't wait for all of you to play through their stories.
Overall, I'm really proud of the direction the industry is taking when it comes to queer stories being told. The amount of queer games coming out now is really staggering, considering where we were just ten years ago, twenty years ago. I mentioned in my introduction blog post a while ago that one of the first games I ever played was Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town. In 2019, a remake of that game was released and it now allows for gay romance! I'm so proud of all the queer devs who have made the industry what it is today, and continue to push for more depth, care, and intersectionality to be put into the representation we see of queer folk in games.
But it's hard to translate my pride in queer devs to the idea that studios are leaders in the queer community when big name AAA companies still dominate so much of the market. The problem is that a lot of these companies are starting to have diversity at lower levels of employment, but the executive level is still broadly cis and straight. The executives are the same people who make the most money and who have ultimate veto power over what gets put in a game and what doesn't. If they feel like including queer stories is a monetary risk, they won't do it.
I've been in writing roles in the past where I was the only queer person in the room, and people looked at me as the de facto representation of all queer people ever. Not just of all lesbians. All queer people. It's a lot of pressure, and an impossible task. I've had my ideas for queer stories and queer characters turned down because I was told I was "pushing an agenda" or that the amount of queer representation I wanted "wasn't realistic." I've had my resume undermined because I've spent so much of my career creating queer games. I've been told that the cozier, queerer games I've worked on "don't count." It can feel disheartening.
Grassroots communities such as co-ops are the true leaders in the creation of queer games, as are the individuals working hard to make headway at whatever company they work for. Corinne Busche is one individual who comes to mind when I think of big name game devs I'm excited to see more from. She's game director for the next entry in the Dragon Age franchise and she's also a trans woman. I think Dragon Age comes to a lot of people's minds when they think of a big name, big budget, blockbuster game that has queer representation both with side characters and queer romance options for the player. I'm excited to see what Busche does with the franchise.
Another upcoming game I'm really excited for is Spirit Swap. It's a chill, lighthearted rhythm game with queer dating sim elements. It's created by the worker owned co-op Soft Not Weak, and I believe both the dev team and characters in the game are majority people of color.
There is so much queer joy to be had in this world. There is so much queer joy in my own life that sometimes I feel like I'm going to overflow with it. I got engaged last October. My then girlfriend and I were lucky enough to be on a vacation in Chiloé. I'd been planning to propose on this vacation for a while, but I wasn't able to save up enough money for a ring in time. I was wracked with indecision, not sure if I should take advantage of the romantic atmosphere or if I should wait until I actually had a ring. After asking for the advice of a few of my friends, I decided to take the leap and buy the ring after the fact.
Chiloé is a farming community with a lot of sheep, so they sell a lot of wool goods in that area. My girlfriend and I were walking through a market and I saw a cute scrunchie with a wool flower on it. I asked my girlfriend what she thought and she said it was cute. I bought it in secret, saving it for later. The next day, the two of us were the only ones who had signed up for a tour of the island, so I knew it was going to be just the two of us and our tour guide all day. This was my chance. When the three of us arrived at a pretty lookout point, I asked the tour guide to take a picture of us. Then, I got down on one knee. My girlfriend was confused and thought this was some sort of pose I wanted to do for the picture. Then I started talking and she got the idea. I put the scrunchie on her finger as a temporary ring. (I got her a real ring that December.) By the time I got off my knee, our tour guide was crying as he took pictures of us. (Shout out to Diego. He was the best.)
There is so much queer joy to be had in this world. There is so much queer joy in my own life that sometimes I feel like I'm going to overflow with it.
Engagement, marriage, even love were all things I never thought would be possible for me. I never thought I could have this much love in my life. The world can feel scary, but we can create our own moments of happiness every day.
To all you queer junior devs and queer folks looking to get into the game industry for the first time: It may seem like you need to assimilate to the cis-het standards of the wealthiest, most powerful game studios. This is not the case at all. Play queer games. Talk to queer devs, they're your precious community and they want to uplift you. Make your own indies, even if it's just a small side project you make on Twine.
There's a huge wealth of amazing queer games out there that a lot of people haven't heard about simply because they don't have huge marketing budgets. Even a lot of big budget AAA games are starting to have more queer representation in them, thanks to the hard work of queer devs behind the scenes. Don't get discouraged. You've got this. 🌈✨