You might not assume that there is a huge overlap between drag games and fighting games. One involves dressing to express extreme caricatures of gender expectations associated with LGBTQ + culture; the other involves smashing seven shades of each other with hyper-violent adrenaline and where large-chested female characters are often meant for the eyes of adolescent boys. But maybe fighting games, with their larger-than-life glamorous lists, are actually stronger than you think.

“Fighting games are so famous for these really hyperfeminized versions of women or hyper-masculine versions of men that they play with sex in ways you didn’t really think of,” said Jessica Antenorcruz, story designer at Fighting Games. chances. “So it makes full sense to me that when we talk to a lot of dear kings or kings, they look at the characters in the war games as very dramatic and beautiful – and then they kick them out!”

But even if the LGBTQ + community can embrace Mortal KombatSindel, who uses her voice and hair as weapons, as a sliding icon, much depends on the audience, which projects its interpretation of all the scarce quir-coded signifiers available. And while the strange performance is gradually improving in mass games, by Eli in The last of us to the bisexual paradise of Hadesthese are still games led mostly by cis-hetero men.

Drag it, for comparison, does not hide the fact that it is proudly camp and strange. It’s a 2D fighting game featuring a line-up of drag artists, while the core of the new indie studio behind it, Fighting Chance Games, consists of LGBTQ + people, women and people of color, with a deep love for the drag community. More importantly, the fighters are not just drag heroes (except for Lemonade, a prototype of the Dolly Parton-style country queen, designed for the demo). Instead, everyone will be based and voiced by real drag artists, many of whom fans can recognize from RuPaul’s Drag Race or the Bullet Brothers Dragula.

This decision, according to the game’s art director Josie Deborah, stems from the origins of the project, when the pandemic forced many queer businesses to close. “We wanted to combine our love of games and then something that would really help support the community and start a new income for it,” he said. “This inspired Drag Her – it was a way to involve the community, while also having a really fast, fun, frantic game.”

Dragging is not usually associated with violence, but fighting is certainly part of drag culture, whether it is a battle to synchronize verbal or verbal battles of the mind of ball culture, where “reading” and “dragging” an opponent is proverbs to overthrow someone. Drag it just do it literally. “It’s like dragging someone through the mud, but then he’s also in the process of being dragged, so he’s selling the concept, but he’s also politely letting you kill your friends’ shit,” Devorah laughs. “We come from a place where we are definitely huge fans of drag, but we are also big fans of fighting games – it doesn’t make sense why no one has done this before!”

Based on an early version I played, Drag it it really brings the brilliance and brilliance of the drag culture to the battlefield with a cheeky dose of disrespect. The health indicator of each fighter is represented by a long and gradually shrinking pink lipstick stick. Their attacks are as sharp as taking a fashionable pose, while super movements leave a rainbow trail or cut to supernatural magical animations in the style of a girl. With only one queen that can be played in the demo, the subsequent mirror matches also give the announcer the opportunity (expressed with impudent pleasure by drag queen meatballs) to talk about the two who appear in the same outfit “” how uncomfortable! )) Until defeated fighters fall under the shrill cry of “K-HO!”

In short, it looks great and is also fun to play. Producer Ian Ramsey says the goal is to please the intersection of casual players in fighting games and casual Drag Race fans who Drag it does with a simple control scheme – only two main attack buttons, auxiliary attack a la Marvel v Capcom, which leads to another drag fighter and no directing entrances for a quarter or semicircle. “The basic concept when I sold this to the team was fast, frantic and affordable,” he explains. “We are not trying to create Divekik one-button fighter, so we chose a bunch of different fighting games on the continuum of where they were with difficulty to find the core of our game. ”

Another thing Ramsey says the team agreed to is “violence without consequences.” Along with the colorful hand-painted artistic style, the matches have a very playful tone without injury, in which no one leaves the stage physically battered, the wigs remain perfectly nailed to their heads and even the usual winning pose poses with immersion, which makes them comical. smash to the floor. Even as a man whose favorite fighting game is ultra-violent Mortal Kombat where fighters are regularly impaled, gutted or torn to pieces, Antenocrus is adamant about this.

“It’s a community of people who have been abused for years and years and traumatized, so we wanted to make a game that’s kind of harmless in the sense that you’re going to kill someone, but it’s all a game, isn’t it?” she says. “You will never see them bleeding or bruised, because it can be humiliating and traumatic for people who have experienced this. It’s like the opposite of Mortal Kombat “It’s kind of a weird safe space.”

drag it

Drag it it also handles the drag community properly, presenting it as diversely as possible. The planned list of eight fighters may look thin – essentially the same as the original Street Fighter II lineup – but consists of a wide range of drag artists. These include drag king Landon Cider, Korean drag queen Kim Chi and trance drag queen Laganja Estranja. While Drag Race has often been criticized for pulling for inclusion, involving only transgender athletes in recent years, but no drag kings yet, Fighting Chance Games wants to show that every drag is valid.

“Drag artists are mascots not only of the LGBTQ G, or L, or Q – it’s a celebration of all this,” says Ramsey. “For me, drag is just a show and a personality, whether it’s helping to protect yourself because the world has really caught you since you were a child, or it’s a celebration of everything you are or want to be.”

That’s why it was important to present drag artists in real life, who, of course, are paid for their license, not only giving them the opportunity to expose themselves to drag fans, but also to new audiences. While the team is unable to reveal details at this time, part of the game will include elements that provide more information about the dredging community and dredging artists; a mixture of education, curious facts and celebration, but above all, a reminder that they are all real human beings.

However, the main purpose of Drag it is to provide a fun fighting game that is also very camp and weird. But it faces stiff competition in a year when Street Fighter celebrates its 35th anniversary with a certain upcoming announcement for its sixth installment as new contender Riot Games invests millions in Arcane-inspired by Project L. Of course, the studio understands that this is a niche in a niche (even the trailer for the game’s announcement refers to a vague fighting game from the 90’s ClayFighter). Having designed two indie-level fighting games in the past, technical designer Matt DeLucas naturally keeps expectations under control, especially when it comes to bringing the professional stratosphere to the fighting game community.

“It’s really hard to touch, because for some of them it’s a job, like they’re making thousands of dollars for every tournament, or they’re running a side job,” he said. “We are trying to use the more careless indie country where they are still playing Sailor Moon Super Nintendo Fighting Game. In the end, it’s all about marketing, but we’re striving for LGBTQ + and the mainstream fighting game to overlap more than hardcore tournament goers. ”

In order to fund $ 69,000 on Kickstarter, it’s certainly a (nice) modest goal to see if both the drag and queer community and the fighting game community will emerge, and more importantly, whether publishers will grow. “One of the things I would like to beg is all these traditional publishers who talk a lot about diversity and all the things they want to support to give people a chance to really show you that these things can bring,” he said. Antenor Cruise. “We are a very diverse team. First of all, we make a diverse game in many different arenas, so take a risk and do what you talk about. ”