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Queering Game
Development
Robert Yang (@radiatoryang)
Parsons the New School for Design MFADT
NYU Game Center
Queerness an...
First person modding as
political practice
- mods aren't “real games”?
- modder inferiority complex
- modding as path to “...
Paratext, packaging, production value

CANDY

JOUI-F*CKING-SSANCE
BIG TOE IS SO BIG
“NVIDIA: IT'S IN THE GAME”
Game Design

Game Studies

Game Development
YES!!!

Game Studies

Game Development
MODDING!!!

Game Studies

Game Development
"... First, we want to establish
the idea that a computer
language is not just a way of
getting a computer to
perform oper...
“... programs must be written
for people to read, and
only incidentally for
machines to execute."
- one of the most influe...
10 PRINT

CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10

by Nick Montfort, Patsy Baudoin, John Bell, Ian Bogost
Jeremy Douglass, Mark C. M...
“Screen essentialism”
"… the graphical user interface is
often uncritically accepted as the
ground zero of the user’s expe...
Dead Island
default_player_setup.scr:
sub Skills_Purna(){
[...]
Skill(“TeamSpirit2Purna”);
Skill(“FeministWhorePurna”);
Skill(“MeleeDu...
"The line in question was
something a programmer
considered a private joke. The
skill naturally has a completely
different...
default_player_setup.scr:
sub Skills_Purna(){
Skill("TeamSpirit1Purna");
Skill("SharpApprenticePurna");
Skill("BoostAura1P...
“... programs must be written
for people to read, and
only incidentally for
machines to execute."
- one of the most influe...
"I found a way to alter the items
you get when choosing a chapter."
- a Dead Island modder, on the
functionality of defaul...
“PRIVATE” TO
WHO? JUST TO
EVERY SINGLE
DEVELOPER?

"The line in question was
something a programmer
considered a private j...
“... programs must be written
for people to read, and
only incidentally for
machines to execute."
- one of the most influe...
A BRIEF PRIMER TO READING SOME CODE:
A “comment” is a note for humans; a summary of what code below does,
or an explanatio...
SOME CODE:

myGender = true;
// from “Gender is not a Boolean”,
Kate Compton, Lost Levels 2012
SOME CODE:

// “true” means man?
myGender = true;
SOME CODE:

isMasculine = false;
SOME CODE:

// values from 0.0 to 1.0
// 0.0 gender means “fem”
gender = 0.3222;
femininity = 0.8215;
SOME CODE:

// multiple choice, discrete
enum Gender { Masculine,
Feminine,
Genderqueer,
Lasagna,
All }
myGender = Gender....
SOME CODE:

// gender as 4 dim. rotation
myGender = new Quaternion
( 0.24, 0.119, -54.2, 295 );
“... programs must be written
for people to read, and
only incidentally for
machines to execute."
- one of the most influe...
YES!!!

Queer Theory

Game Development
YOUR ALLIES!!!!

- digital humanities!!!!
- creative coding movements!!!
- hacker spaces, direct action!!!
- everyone in t...
SOME QUESTIONS YOU CAN ASK YOURSELF
OR YOUR TECHNICALLY-MINDED ALLIES:

- What sum of code and assets facilitate
this simu...
C'MON LET'S CHASE THE
F*CKERS INTO THE MATRIX

thanks for listening bye
(questions? twitter: @radiatoryang)
Queering Game Development
Queering Game Development
Queering Game Development
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Queering Game Development

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Queer and feminist critiques of games often rely on high level conceptual approaches to games -- that is, analyzing games as cultural products or media objects. The hegemony's response is to go technical and go low-level, to argue that their game engine could not support playable women characters, or to argue production schedules allowed no time to support queer content, etc. Ignoring temporarily how those are bullsh*t reasons, what if we chased them into the matrix? Perhaps we could disclose the politics inherent in game engine architectures, rendering APIs, and technical know-how. If we learn about (and *practice*) actual game development, then we can articulate alternative accounts of game development at a low level, and achieve more comprehensive critiques of games.

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Queering Game Development

  1. 1. Queering Game Development Robert Yang (@radiatoryang) Parsons the New School for Design MFADT NYU Game Center Queerness and Games Conference UC Berkeley 27 October 2013
  2. 2. First person modding as political practice - mods aren't “real games”? - modder inferiority complex - modding as path to “break in” AAA - distribution? How to play a mod? - who REALLY owns your work? - who is “allowed” to mod? For more info, c.f. “People's History of the FPS”
  3. 3. Paratext, packaging, production value CANDY JOUI-F*CKING-SSANCE BIG TOE IS SO BIG “NVIDIA: IT'S IN THE GAME”
  4. 4. Game Design Game Studies Game Development
  5. 5. YES!!! Game Studies Game Development
  6. 6. MODDING!!! Game Studies Game Development
  7. 7. "... First, we want to establish the idea that a computer language is not just a way of getting a computer to perform operations but rather that it is a novel formal medium for expressing ideas about methodology. Thus, programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute."
  8. 8. “... programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute." - one of the most influential texts on programming
  9. 9. 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10 by Nick Montfort, Patsy Baudoin, John Bell, Ian Bogost Jeremy Douglass, Mark C. Marino, Michael Mateas Casey Reas, Mark Sample, and Noah Vawter (2012) Criminal Code: Procedural Logic and Rhetorical Excess in Videogames by Mark Sample (2013)
  10. 10. “Screen essentialism” "… the graphical user interface is often uncritically accepted as the ground zero of the user’s experience” - Matthew Kirschenbaum (2008) in “Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination”
  11. 11. Dead Island
  12. 12. default_player_setup.scr: sub Skills_Purna(){ [...] Skill(“TeamSpirit2Purna”); Skill(“FeministWhorePurna”); Skill(“MeleeDurabilityPurna”); [...] }
  13. 13. "The line in question was something a programmer considered a private joke. The skill naturally has a completely different in-game name and the script reference was also changed. What is left is a part of an obscure debug function." - developer's response
  14. 14. default_player_setup.scr: sub Skills_Purna(){ Skill("TeamSpirit1Purna"); Skill("SharpApprenticePurna"); Skill("BoostAura1Purna"); Skill("GLMeleeDmgPurna"); Skill("ElemetalDurationPurna"); Skill("ComboCriticalProbPurna"); Skill("ElemetalDurationPurna"); Skill("MoreCraftedAmmoPurna"); Skill("RVTiefPurna"); Skill("TSDmgIncrasedPurna"); Skill("CraftedWeaponKillFuryPointsPurna"); Skill("ChanceToFireUpEnemyPurna"); Skill("TeamSpirit2Purna"); Skill("FeministWhorePurna"); […] }
  15. 15. “... programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute." - one of the most influential texts on programming
  16. 16. "I found a way to alter the items you get when choosing a chapter." - a Dead Island modder, on the functionality of default_player_setup.scr 2+ weeks after release / day one patch
  17. 17. “PRIVATE” TO WHO? JUST TO EVERY SINGLE DEVELOPER? "The line in question was something a programmer considered a private joke. The skill naturally has a completely different in-game name and the script reference was also changed. What is left is a part of an obscure debug function." - developer's response “OBSCURE DEBUG” AS IN “RUN THIS EVERY TIME A PLAYER STARTS A NEW GAME”
  18. 18. “... programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute." - one of the most influential texts on programming
  19. 19. A BRIEF PRIMER TO READING SOME CODE: A “comment” is a note for humans; a summary of what code below does, or an explanation of something not obvious from the code already // don't drink too much Computers are good at remembering things in the form of “variables”... Imagine your computer memory is like an attic, filled with boxes. beersDrunk = 4 ; The name of the variable; the label on a storage box. A value for the variable; the thing inside a storage box. There are also “types”; is it a small, long, big box? What kind of thing is in the box?
  20. 20. SOME CODE: myGender = true; // from “Gender is not a Boolean”, Kate Compton, Lost Levels 2012
  21. 21. SOME CODE: // “true” means man? myGender = true;
  22. 22. SOME CODE: isMasculine = false;
  23. 23. SOME CODE: // values from 0.0 to 1.0 // 0.0 gender means “fem” gender = 0.3222; femininity = 0.8215;
  24. 24. SOME CODE: // multiple choice, discrete enum Gender { Masculine, Feminine, Genderqueer, Lasagna, All } myGender = Gender.Feminine;
  25. 25. SOME CODE: // gender as 4 dim. rotation myGender = new Quaternion ( 0.24, 0.119, -54.2, 295 );
  26. 26. “... programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute." - one of the most influential texts on programming
  27. 27. YES!!! Queer Theory Game Development
  28. 28. YOUR ALLIES!!!! - digital humanities!!!! - creative coding movements!!! - hacker spaces, direct action!!! - everyone in this room!!!!! - Different Games!!! - Transcode!!!! - Code Liberation!!!!! WE CAN DO IT WE CAN DO IT
  29. 29. SOME QUESTIONS YOU CAN ASK YOURSELF OR YOUR TECHNICALLY-MINDED ALLIES: - What sum of code and assets facilitate this simulation / interaction? - How was this ________ built? - Why did they do it this way? What are other possible implementations? - What happens if I change ________ ? - Cheap / expensive? Static / dynamic? Elegant / “hack”? Stable / instable?
  30. 30. C'MON LET'S CHASE THE F*CKERS INTO THE MATRIX thanks for listening bye (questions? twitter: @radiatoryang)

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