Argues for the queer potential of video games
While popular discussions about queerness in video games often focus on big-name, mainstream games that feature LGBTQ characters, like Mass Effect or Dragon Age, Bonnie Ruberg pushes the concept of queerness in games beyond a matter of representation, exploring how video games can be played, interpreted, and designed queerly, whether or not they include overtly LGBTQ content. Video Games Have Always Been Queer argues that the medium of video games itself can—and should—be read queerly.
In the first book dedicated to bridging game studies and queer theory, Ruberg resists the common, reductive narrative that games are only now becoming more diverse. Revealing what reading D. A. Miller can bring to the popular 2007 video game Portal, or what Eve Sedgwick offers Pong, Ruberg models the ways game worlds offer players the opportunity to explore queer experience, affect, and desire. As players attempt to 'pass' in Octodad or explore the pleasure of failure in Burnout: Revenge, Ruberg asserts that, even within a dominant gaming culture that has proved to be openly hostile to those perceived as different, queer people have always belonged in video games—because video games have, in fact, always been queer.
"Ruberg offers a polemical intervention into game studies, discovering queer frisson through close readings of how games are played, from the touching shoulders of two men playing a Pong cabinet in the 1970s to the modern trend of speed running or glitching games that transforms the temporality and meaning of play" ~Real Life Magazine
"Ruberg powerfully calls for the reclaiming of the entirety of the games medium, identifying how LGBTQ players have always belonged in games (209) … I strongly recommend this book for researchers and students of queer studies and game studies and for scholars focused on media and culture." ~Feminist Media Studies
"Bonnie Ruberg is one of the most innovative and original thinkers in the field of game studies. Ruberg's latest work gives us a nuanced and insightful approach to thinking about games through a queer lens. Its essential reading for anyone interested in the cutting edge of theorization about digital games." ~Mia Consalvo, author of Cheating: Gaining Advantage in Videogames
"This book helps us to identify the dominant preconceived notions surrounding games, which allows us to resist the heteronormative logic’s preferred ways to interpret and play games....I believe this book is a cornerstone of queer game studies, which will inspire scholars to think beyond the preconceived notions around queerness in, of, and around video games... The book is useful for everyone but especially ideal for students and scholars of queer studies and game studies, who defend and celebrate the different identities, activities, pleasures, and meanings that are available in video games." ~Critical Studies in Media Communication
"Offers an innovative and critical contribution to not just the study of games, but media more broadly. Video Games Have Always Been Queer asks us to take not simply representation, but play itself, seriously and provides powerful ways for thinking about queerness and games. Its an exciting contribution to the field and a must-read for all media scholars." ~T. L. Taylor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology