At Archiact, we’re lucky to have a community of extremely talented 2SLGBTQ+ game devs on our team. Continuing our conversation about queering game dev this month, we sat down with a few of them to discuss how being queer has affected their careers and ask them what advice they would give to queer people interested in pursuing a future in the games industry.
MOE KIRKPATRICK (HE/HIM)
Moe is a Game Writer, which means he’s responsible for thinking about the overarching narratives of our games, the story of each level, and the structure of each conversation. Basically, he writes a lot, and what he writes is influenced by his queerness.
In any group meeting, he’s one of the people thinking the most about gender and how it is represented in our games. His baseline knowledge of media criticism is a huge asset and allows him to give real-time feedback.
He also notes that when writing, he doesn’t write about straight people and finds himself adding as many trans characters as possible. Whether or not the gender identity of these characters is canon, his mission is to carve out a space in the games industry where characters do not default to straightness.
Moe has two pieces of advice for queer people pursuing careers in game dev. First, the games industry is an extension of our heteronormative culture; there will always be some push-back when arguing for queer inclusion. Constantly pushing the envelope can be taxing, so pick your battles carefully. Second, while the industry certainly has its issues, there are safe spaces where queer people can thrive. There are people like you making games, and you can find those people.
Jules Loughin (they/them)
Jules is one of our Narrative Designers; they’re a bridge between game writers and the other types of designers working on a game (i.e. level designers, UX/UI designers, etc.). Their job is to map out how the story will be conveyed in the game and work with the tools engineering has developed to implement that vision.
One of the reasons that Jules chose narrative as a career path is that narratives are powerful tools for representing marginalized people and creating empathy between groups that don’t often come into contact in real life. They want to use narrative as a tool for helping queer people feel seen and safe in stories and try to expand the number of allies the community has.
Within the industry, Jules has experienced the systemic oppression of queer voices in action. Like many queer people, when Jules was first applying to positions in game dev, they knew there were certain spaces they had to steer clear of that others didn’t. When it comes to cis men, they can play the field; queer game devs have to pick and choose.
In terms of advice, as much as Twitter can suck, Jules recommends it for figuring out who the big names in queer game dev are, expanding your network, and finding safe spaces within the games community. Beyond a professional networking context or wanting to get a job, having a support network is essential for marginalized people in spaces that have not always welcomed them.
tani rau (he/they)
Tani is a Game Designer here at Archiact. They create games from concept to polish, designing and putting all the game components together with the help of artists and engineers.
For Tani, it’s clear that the games industry needs more queerness, people of colour, and intersectionality, and they’re hoping to use their role to push for that as much as possible. They feel lucky to be at a studio where they can be open about their queer identity and work alongside other non-binary folks, but this is not something they can say about every studio.
Tani encourages queer people coming into the industry to talk about queerness and take up space (where it is safe to do so) because you never know whether you will inspire others to come forward. It’s scary to be yourself, but there are always more vulnerable people than you. It’s brave to open up a space and lead by example. Still, always make sure you’re safe.
Emanuel Salazar Gallardo
Emanuel is a Quality Assurance (QA) Specialist. He is part of the team that supports the dev team by testing what works in a game and, if something isn’t working, tracking the specific cause of bugs. His role includes playing through games, testing the dev tools we create in-studio and pointing out areas that might be missing something (e.g. accessibility).
QA being a common entry point into the game industry, many queer people stumble into groups with almost no diversity and feel there’s no space to be themselves. Emanuel wants to pursue a career as a QA Manager so he can help create a safe space for everyone and be part of a push for more queer representation in manager roles. He wants to show people entering game dev that they can aim for upper-level positions like these.
Emanuel's main advice for queer people interested in QA work is to do research on companies before applying. The best way to find a workplace where you’ll be safe is to look up reviews from other employees on platforms like Glassdoor. Still, sometimes you will be in environments where you don’t feel welcome, but for Emanuel, those may be times where you can make a change. If possible, find solidarity with other queer people and make your own support network.
Thank you to Moe, Jules, Tani and Emanuel for sharing their thoughts! As we enter the final week of Pride Month, it’s important to remember that support for the queer community shouldn’t stop on July 1st. Come back next week for a blog post about our commitment to support 2SLGBTQ+ people in gaming all year round!