Aug 24, 2014

[Movies] Gaming in Color (2014)

I've supported a wide variety of Kickstarter projects over the years. A lot of them were video game projects in the beginning, but since then I've sort of expanded into other areas like movies, board games and other geeky stuff.

Another area of focus has been related to various LGBT projects, especially those that resonate with my being a gay geek. Gaming in Color is a great example of this - a project focused on creating a documentary about LGBT gamers. It felt like a nice project to support and I'm glad that it managed to fund successfully in the end.

With the completion of the project, the documentary film is now publicly available on a "pay what you want" basis. So yes, for as little as a dollar, you can get the entire feature. But quite frankly, the movie is worth a lot more than that.

The documentary isn't quite as flashy as other in terms of celebrity participation or big name game studios offering their insights. In that manner, I suppose it offers an interesting experience - one that is flavored with strong tone of sincerity and honesty. And perhaps a lot of hope for the future.

Synopsis: Gaming in Color is a 2014 documentary directed by Philip Jones. I had originally backed the Kickstarter project to help fund the film back in May of last year.

As you can see in the trailer, the documentary focuses on the LGBT side of the gaming community, or the so-called "gaymers" all around. The documentary consists of a series of interviews with various members of the LGBT gaming community including indie game developers and even just passionate players. And the stories generally focus on their experience in dealing with the rest of the world and how they deal with the presence of LGBT players. And as we gaymers know very well, the gaming community at large is viewed traditionally as a very masculine place. And thus both women and LGBT individuals are often faced with challenges based on those narrow stereotypes.

The movie initially seems to a slightly neutral or at least fact-based narration of their experiences. And while inherently their stories get you as a viewer to see the need for better LGBT representation and protections for such members from harassment and abuse online. And quite frankly, LGBT players have a higher likelihood to be targeted for such abuse. Thus one of the key items of focus was the GaymerX convention, which sadly has been discontinued for now despite only running for two years. But still, an LGBT-focused gaming convention was something rather unheard of before and it marked a unique moment in our gaming history.

As mentioned before, I rather enjoyed how honest the documentary was. As much as folks will always argue that any documentary or any instance of a member of the LGBT community standing out will have some sort of an agenda they're pushing. And that's a fair enough point about an media, really. But if anything, the documentary didn't feel too heavy-handed in its approach to things. They mention the problems and discuss things at length. They share some of their feelings, true enough. But in the end it's really just a call for change.

It was nice to see the diversity of the community though. Let's face it - gay geeks are a little hard to identify since we adapt to prevailing geek culture and "hide in plain sight" amid the stereotypically macho culture. Many of us just don't think sexuality should come into play and we just focus on the gaming experience as a whole. But if anything, the movie points out that we shouldn't be ashamed of who we are - and there are many gaymers out there just like this, looking for like-minded individuals to seek friendship with.

Gaming in Color is not so much there to "prove" that gaymers exist - but to argue for the need for safe spaces for us and the need for proper respect. We shouldn't feel obligated to raise the rainbow banner in some attempt to demand some sort of special treatment or anything like that. It should come a natural sense of community in acceptance that we hope to have in the gaming world - that the games themselves should be what tie us together. And we have a long way to go.

I also appreciated how it wasn't like the movie was demanding a certain number of LGBT characters in all games or anything like that - we just hope for more of them and more games that recognize us. And thus the movie also featured some interesting LGBT game developers, both independent and working for bigger companies. And this is where the documentary shines the most - the number of stories that they managed to gather into one film. And that's always the best way to showcase the diversity of the gaymer community

Gaming in Color is worth a lot more than a dollar, and I can totally respect how the "recommended" price is around $15. This is a great video to share with friends to help educate them about the need for representation in all things, even in gaming. Thus the movie gets a good 3.5 LGBT indie game creators out of a possible 5.

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