Volume II, Issue V


Out of the Dungeons: Representations of Queer Sexuality in RPG Source Books – Jaakko Stenros and Tanja Sihvonen

Queering Girl Talk (The Board Game) – Amber Muller

Towards a Taxonomy of Sexy Analog Play – Ashley ML Brown

Analog Game Studies is proud to publish its second special issue, which teases out dynamics often ignored in the analysis of many games’ content: how queerness, femininity, masculinity, heterosexuality and a host of other topoi are contested, packaged and projected through games. As audiences continue to diversify and the stakes around media representations increase, we need critical tools and a historical perspective to parse the traditions and ideologies at work in games. Fortunately, this issue’s articles offer precisely such tools and perspective.

Jaakko Stenros and Tanja Sihvonen’s essay, “Out of the Dungeons,” begins our issue. Here, Stenros and Sihvonen show how queer sexuality has been historically represented in a variety of tabletop role-playing games. This trailblazing study not only presents the way that queerness has been closeted and/or revealed within RPGs over time, but also demonstrates how textual analysis of specific RPG texts yields a wealth of commentary on social issues. By making visible the otherwise invisible history of sexuality in role-playing games we can strive to better understand their diverse and inclusive aspects.

Amber Muller takes on the seemingly innocuous board game Girl Talk in “Queering Girl Talk,” arguing that it (in of itself) mechanically and textually underwrites a neoliberal feminine ideal that emerged from the backlash against feminism in the 1980s. But she and her brother managed to queer it during childhood. Because they are easily modified, analog games have the potential to subvert patriarchal and hetero-sexist tropes embedded in their design. Muller helps us to question the degree to which design decisions affect our subjectivities and lives.

Finally, Ashley ML Brown shows in “Towards a Taxonomy of Sexy Analog Play” how useful taxonomy can be by offering a new structure for understanding what she terms “sexy analog games,” non-digital games that directly or indirectly propose erotic content. By clarifying the language around such games, Brown affirms the palpable turn in game studies toward the borderline between “play” and “games.”

We hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as we enjoyed editing it!

-The Editors
July 20th, 2015

Featured image “Avalon Fantasy Falls” by Nicolas Raymond CC BY.