Gaming in Color (MidBoss, NR)

Gaming-in-Color 75_75Gay and lesbian people also like to game, and would like to see some characters and storylines reflecting their reality.

Gaming-in-Color 500

Gaming is a huge industry, accounting for $10.5 billion in revenue in the United States alone in 2009. It’s also a huge cultural force, both because of the number of people who play games (1.2 billion worldwide in 2013) and the ever-growing cultural exchange among different storytelling platforms, including film, books, and games. Even if you’re not a gamer yourself, you probably know people who are, and you probably consume media that has been influenced by games.

Speaking of gamers, they’re a lot more diverse than you might think. Certainly nerdy white boys are well-represented in the ranks of gamers, but so are a lot of girls, people of color, and grown-ups. The average age for gamers is 34, and 40 percent of all gamers are female. Sad to say, that diversity is not always represented in the characters featured in games, particularly in bestsellers like the Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto franchises. Maybe this is no more surprising than the domination of male characters in Hollywood movies and on prime-time television, but the first step to correcting such imbalances is pointing them out.

Gaming in Color, a new documentary directed by Philip Jones, points out another oversight in the gaming world: acknowledgement that gay and lesbian people also like to game, and would like to see some characters and storylines reflecting their reality. It also touches on a number of related points, including reflections on the experience of gaming and why games and gaming culture deserves the kind of attention and analysis already devoted to other popular culture products.

I’m not a gamer myself, so hearing articulate people talk about why they enjoy gaming was eye-opening. One appeal I hadn’t thought about, but which is obvious in retrospect, is that gaming allows a person to take on different roles and explore different ways of being within the virtual world of the game. That’s one reason why the lack of diversity in characters and storylines carries an importance beyond simply making the games more interesting. There’s also the appeal of becoming part of the gamer community, and the desire to seek community with like-minded people has led to the formation of “gaymer” groups of gay and lesbian gamers (in part because the mainstream gamer world has not always been welcoming to non-heterosexuals).

Gaming in Color is composed almost entirely of talking head interviews interspersed with clips from video games, which means it’s not the most visually exciting film. However, this format is suitable for a film that is primarily intent on educating people about an issue. Also on the plus side, the interview subjects are articulate and interesting, the interviews are well-shot, and the soundtrack by video game composer “2 Mello” (Matthew Hopkins) is fun and appropriate. Among the interview subjects are game engineer George Skleres, game designed Colleen Macklin, game creator Naomi Clark, Geeks OUT founder Joey Sterm, journalist Jessica Vazquez, and GaymerX and MidBoss founder and CEO Matt Conn.

Gaming in Color is available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, PlayStation, Xbox, and Vudu. More information is available from the film’s official website. | Sarah Boslaugh

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