Vampires are Gay: A Collective Case Study and Close Play Analysis of Queer Representation through Vampires in Western Video Games

Shepherd-Bell, Georgie
Eklund, Tof
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Master of English and New Media Studies
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Auckland University of Technology

The queerness of Western vampires was cemented during their gothic origins in the early 1800s with Coleridge’s 1816 poem Christabel and Polidori’s 1819 prose The Vampyre. Their undoubtedly queer origins have continued into their inclusion in contemporary media. While research into how vampires represent queerness in television and movies, research into the queerness of vampires in the popular industry of video games is lacking. Vampires have been included in video games as main antagonists and protagonists, as well as minor non-playable characters and enemies. Their continuous inclusion in the fantasy role-playing genre of video games has cemented them as a staple fixture. This study examines the inclusion of vampires in ten video games that centred vampires as a primary narrative element and were developed in America and Europe and within Western culture. The games were separated into two categories, one where the narrative was explicitly queer, and the other was not explicitly queer. The games were analysed with close play methodology and compared to each other, first within their respective groups and then all together.

Vampires in video games that were explicitly queer showcase queerness positively and prominently within the confines of mainstream Western heterosexual beauty standards. They perpetuate hetero-hegemonic archetypes of queerness. Vampires in non-explicitly queer video games showcase queerness as a dangerous sexual deviancy, more in line with Byronic representations of queer vampires. Both types of video games used vampirism as a symbol of self-acceptance and as a form of wish fulfilment for queer players but did so through the lens of conventional attractiveness. All of the games analysed used vampires to explore many contemporary queer experiences and societal fears and anxieties surrounding queerness.

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