Don’t Fear the Queer: Audiences Are Ready

Watch Session:


Based on my highly-ranked GDC 2016 Narrative Summit talk of the same name, I would discuss my ethnographic research about romance in single-player RPG’s and use it to build the business case for inclusive romances in games (read: ammunition for developers who wish to include this content!). Other materials that support what I’ll be talking about here include my chapter in the recently released “Diversifying Barbie and Mortal Kombat” book edited by Yasmin Kafai and my essay in last July’s QED: A Journal of Queer Worldmaking.



Heidi McDonald broke into games at 41 in 2011, and in that time has gone from Design Intern to Creative Director. She worked as a narrative, features and systems designer at Schell Games in Pittsburgh, shipping eight titles including award-winning serious games. McDonald has been academically published numerous times and lectures internationally on the topic of romance in single-player RPG’s. Winner of Women in Gaming’s Rising Star Award in 2013 and an IGF Honorable Mention for Narrative Excellence in 2016 for her work on Orion Trail, she currently does client-side creative direction for iThrive, and several side projects. She has dedicated her career to the idea that games can be a force for positive change in human beings. Now living in the Greater Los Angeles area, she is publicly bisexual, chaotic good, a wearer of magnificent hats, a goth pirate adventuress, a shameless practical joker and singer of karaoke, and someone who seeks to fill the world with more joy, cupcakes and corgis.

Website: iThrive

Twitter: @Death_Bow