On Saturday, a bunch of queer gamers gathered at RuPaul’s DragCon to watch several queens talk about their relationship to the gaming world and which games influenced them.
The queens also served looks that left the packed room in awe. Drag Race contestant Kameron Michaels came dressed as Chun-Li, who is experiencing a resurgence in popularity thanks to Nicki Minaj’s latest song named after the Street Fighter character. Dragula winner Biqtch Puddin’ dressed as Cammy from Street Fighter but in an M Bison costume. Erika Klash, also from Dragula, dressed as MissingNo, the infamous glitch Pokemon from the original GameBoy games. And the final queen, Deere, who plays video games in drag on Twitch, served some old school glamour realness.
First, the queens shared their favorite games and who they want to cosplay. Deere said her favorite video game is Resident Evil Outbreak and that she wants to cosplay as Alyssa from the same game. Kameron Michaels said her favorite games were Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6 and that she’d cosplay as time witch Bayonetta. Biqtch Puddin’s favorite game is Metal Gear Solid and she’d cosplay as vamp queen Morrigan. Erika Klash said she loves all Nintendo games, especially the Zelda series and that she’d cosplay as the genderqueer villain Birdo from Super Mario Bros. 2.
Next, the queens spoke about how they began their gaming passion. For Puddin’, the passion began with her uncle’s Playstation and Tekken 2, which elicited claps from the crowd. Erika Klash said that playing video games, for her, was a way to bond with her older siblingsand it also taught her that practice makes perfect. She also said that she considered the Mario series a lesson.
“It’s a metaphor of only going forward, and never looking back,” Klash said, to claps and oohs from the crowd.
In contrast to Erika, Kameron was an only child who got lost in video games with female characters, a running theme throughout the panel. Kameron said he vacillated between girly video games and horror video games. Deere said that he began with a Super Nintendo and Mortal Kombat 2.
Biqtch Puddin’ then spoke about her life growing up in a military family. She was constantly moving and steady friendships were in short supply. Also, she was bullied for being a femme kid. To deal with the constant change, she disappeared into the virtual world to “see these badass women kicking ass.”
The queens next spoke about the process of building your own character in online games and RPGs. Biqtch Puddin’ compared the process of creating a character to coming up with a drag persona. They also talked about how the women in video games influenced their own personae.
Deere spoke about how the confidence the women in video games have inspired her.
“These women in video games are fearless and if you’re being a fake woman why not be that woman?” Deere said.
“Aesthetically, drag queens are attracted to femininity but a really exaggerated, powerful femininity,” Klash said. “They look very draggy but they carry themselves with such divaness, and even nowadays for women it’s hard to be that.”
“It’s satisfying to admire a character then step into their pumps,” Klash added.
Not that video games could make you gay, but if they could, which games made each queen gay? According to Erika Klash, Link in Zelda is “such trade” and was her big video game crush. Kameron Michaels pointed to Chris Redfield from the Resident Evil series.
Biqtch Puddin’ talked about how hypermasculine and feminine the characters are, but also said, “seeing people be unapologetically themselves made it more comfortable for me, in the long run, figuring out my identity.”
“I didn’t even know what gay was or what it meant and I was getting labeled that at a very young age,” Puddin said. “To a young person, that’s very detrimental. You fight it like, ‘I’m not a faggot’ and then subliminally playing these games I saw these iconic characters just be themselves. They didn’t talk about their gender identity or sexual preference, it was just like this is who they are.”
“Your average nerd who isn’t queer knows what it’s like to feel excluded,” Erika Klash said. “Sometimes I think of, like, people playing online with other people and that for me is a way for them to connect with like-minded people who are interested and want to get out of their shell a little bit. That’s the intersection of queerness and nerdiness.”