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The Independent Critic

Colleen Macklin, George Skleres, Naomi Clark, Joey Stern, Jessica Vazquez, Shane Cherry
Philip Jones
Ryan Paul
62 Mins.
Devolver Digital

 "Gaming in Color" Being Distributed by Devolver Digital  
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Director Philip Jones is quite honest about the fact that the heart and soul of his documentary Gaming in Color resonates with him deeply. As a queer youth and active gamer, one of Jones's highest hopes is that Gaming in Color will be used as an educational tool that promotes the goal of diversity and positive representation of marginalized people in games, both in industry development and community culture. Gaming in Color, picked up for distribution by Devolver Digital Films with a May 19th release, is a feature-length documentary  exploring the queer side of gaming: the queer gaming community, gaymer culture and events, and the rise of LGBTQ themes in video games. Diverse queer themes in game storylines and characters are an anomaly in the mainstream video game industry, and LGBTQ gamers have a higher chance of being mistreated in social games.

With a strong focus on interviews, Jones and screenwriter Ryan Paul have crafted a film that serves as a quiet crusade for a diversified gaming community and presence of diversity within games. They don't shy away from the harsh reality that LGBTQ gamers have a much higher likelihood of experiencing bullying within gaming communities, yet the overwhelming vibe within the film is an almost suprising degree of hopefulness about the shifting community culture, a diversifying industry, and the growth and influence of gaming communities and conferences that are creating a higher visibility for queer gamers.

There were times that I found myself wanting to experience more interactions between those that Jones chooses to interview for Gaming in Color. For a film that so heavily emphasizes community and gaming culture, it often feels like we're dealing far too much with 1:1 experiences. Yet, for gamers who are gay or, for that matter simply gamers who aren't narrow, Gaming in Color will no doubt be a breath of fresh air as it brings out a pretty remarkable diversity even within the queer gaming community and shares about such things as the GX Game Convention and other gaymer events.

While Gaming in Color is a rather straightforward film, it's a remarkably important one and it captures an aspect of the LGBTQ culture not really ever given much light within the cinematic or media world. Jones manages to make sure the film is both entertaining and insightful and, as he'd hoped, it does become an excellent educational tool that encourages anyone who is involved in the gaming community to become less of a passive presence and more of an outright crusader encouraging gaming spaces to be safe spaces and for gaming communities and companies to be more proactive in promoting diversity.  The film features appearances by a queer-identified cast from across the gamer community including Colleen Macklin (Associate Professor at Parsons & game designer), George Skleres (Riot Games engineer), Matt Conn (MidBoss CEO & GaymerX/GX founder), Naomi Clark (game creator), Joey Stern (founding member of Geeks Out), Jessica Vazquez (journalist), Shane Cherry (NYC Gaymers event promoter), and Matthew Michael Brown (activist & reality TV star).

Gaming in Color will be released on May 19th and will be available via iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, PlayStation, Xbox, and Vudu, with other major platforms coming soon. For more information, visit the film's Devolver website linked to in the credits.

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic