Dating Ga(y)mes: Queer Performance in Farming Simulation Roleplay Games

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Dating Ga(y)mes: Queer Performance in Farming-Simulation Roleplay Games examines the differing ways in which LGBTQ+ people resist hegemonic structures and perform their queer identity within video game franchises such as Harvest Moon, Story of Season, and Stardew Valley. This successful genre of games contains a highly identifiable and heteronormative formula in which players must run a farm and court a heterosexual partner. Despite their popularity, little scholarship exists on these games, from a critical queer perspective or otherwise. This lack of academic attention means that these games, despite their clear, shared structure, have not yet been deemed a specific genre of roleplaying games – much less studied as a site of queer resistance. From a queer gaming studies perspective, my paper asserts that these games do constitute an important gaming genre, Farming Simulation Roleplay Games (FSRPGs), particularly for LGBTQ+ players who ‘queer’ the technonormative matrix of these games and perform resistant identities. This paper first identifies the key characteristics of this genre classification, and then examines communications about the games, taking place in microblogs, blogs, and forum posts, by LGBTQ+ players. Analyzing online communications best informs this taxonomy as they detail the organic experience of LGBTQ+ players, either as they play or shortly after they finish, as well as the conversations between members of the community about resisting the games’ heteronormativity and, in some cases, how they work together to queer these games. Ultimately, this paper creates a taxonomy of how resistive ‘queerness’ is performed within these games. The results of the methodology conclude that users queerly play FSRPGs in five ways: [1] playing at the ‘opposite gender’ to achieve the desired dating outcome, [2] using affordances to explicitly play queerly, [3] using affordances to implicitly play queerly, [4] creating a headcanon, and [5] modding the game.
video game, farming simulation roleplay game, roleplay game, queer, queer theory, lgbtq, queer video games
Stockton, S. (2019). Dating Ga(y)mes: Queer Performance in Farming Simulation Roleplay Games. [Undergraduate Honours Thesis, University of Calgary]. PRISM.