On Thursday April 20 at 6:00 p.m. in Cathedral of Learning 144, the Children's Literature program will host a talk by Dr. Derritt Mason, Associate Professor at the University of Calgary. Dr. Mason will be discussing the development of video games with queer content, including Caper in the Castro and GayBlade, as follows:
Gaiety Games: HIV/AIDS Activism, Children’s Literature, and Early Queer Video Games
This talk explores the relationship between video games and activism—in particular, queer games by queer creators that were made during the HIV/AIDS crisis, yet themselves contain little to no explicit reference to HIV/AIDS. The first, Caper in the Castro, was originally released by its creator C.M. Ralph in 1989 and restored with the assistance of the LGBTQ Game Archive in 2017. The second, Ryan Best’s GayBlade, was released in 1992 and restored in 2019. This game, a queer Dungeons & Dragons spoof, returned to the popular consciousness thanks to a 2020 Netflix docuseries on the history of video games called High Score, which highlighted GayBlade as part of an episode on adventure and role-playing games. Drawing on Sara Warner’s Acts of Gaiety, I argue that such games might be helpfully understood as “gaiety games”: texts intended to provide a joyous critique of otherwise deeply oppressive circumstances. I further argue that these games function as a kind of supplement to children’s literature about HIV/AIDS and to the history of AIDS activism.
Derritt Mason (they/he) is Associate Professor of English at the University of Calgary and Educational Leader in Residence at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning. They are the author of Queer Anxieties of Young Adult Literature and Culture (UP of Mississippi, 2021), and the co-editor, with Kenneth B. Kidd, of two collections: Alt KidLit: What Children’s Literature Might Be (forthcoming in 2023 from UPM) and Queer as Camp: Essays on Summer, Style, and Sexuality (Fordham UP, 2019), which won the 2021 Children’s Literature Association Edited Book Award.
Dr. Mason’s website is here: https://derrittmason.com/.