Being Queer Within the Digital Space of Video-Games

Andy Ward
3 min readAug 14, 2017

Eleven year-old me was obsessed with video-games. Truth be told, I probably am still to this day. I was obsessed with a mythical MMORPG called Dark Ages of Camelot. How obsessed? Well if I had learned about the “pee in a bottle” trick at that age, I might have never left the family computer chair. I was obsessed with the lore, the mythology, the escapism from boring out-of-school summers. I was obsessed with the freedom of characterization and optimization that real life had restricted me from.

I’ll never forget when my dad, a Southern-Baptist man, peeped over my shoulder and saw the game I was playing. He didn’t take ire for when my brothers chose deadly assassins or skillful archers as their characters, but he took issue with my character choice.

I chose to play a female Firbolg character. The Firbolg is a huge, druid troll-like looking creature that might resemble a happy orc.

Something like this:

I’ll never forget what my dad said: “Son, why did you choose to be a girl? Can’t you be a boy in that game?” He grew red in the face and stormed off. I assume the anger was towards me choosing to be a girl, ignoring all normal conventions, and not the fact that I was, I don’t know — A FUCKING HUGE TROLL PLAYING A HARP?

I don’t think I fully understood at that age that I was “different.” I had only understood that my choices were weird and that — boys should play boy characters. I didn’t realize until puberty that I was gay, and maybe I didn’t like to play girl characters because I thought they were “hot.” Maybe I liked girl characters because I envied their strength and their feminine qualities, and I sought to see myself in these characters.

As Donna Haraway stated in her Cyborg Manifesto the Cyborg is a “way out of the maze of dualisms in which we have explained our bodies and our tools to ourselves.” At age eleven I could not verbalize that I was queer or that I was different. Playing Dark Ages of Camelot as a flower-troll helped me feel accepted in a world that I would soon understand only has contempt for me.

Children find that in video games they can seek freedom and self direction. Something that I believe to be very important for queer kids understanding who they are, and learning to cope with the world that we live in.

If identity were not important we would never have seen the horrors of #Gamergate. That’s why we need to protect these online spaces, and make them accepting of all of those HUMAN counterparts that operate these virtual characters. While we look to makes these online spaces more queer, I believe we also need to look at the misogyny, hate-culture, and hyper-masculinity promoted in video-game cultures.

Being queer is tricky. Finding “queer spaces” is even trickier. In a world where gay havens, gay clubs, and queer spaces are becoming enclosed and cut off, looking at queer spaces, even virtually, will become a necessity.

Being queer means you shouldn’t have to hide. In an ideal world, there would be no “othered” spaces, or necessity for finding safe haven. We don’t live in that world just yet, and I don’t know if we will ever get to that place, ever. Perhaps, queering up online spaces might be the best path to change how we see others here on Earth.



Andy Ward

25 writer, comedian. wants to be in Ina Garten’s inner circle