June 6, 2023


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Åge Markus Schultz og Hauk Seim Flåøien i Vertebrae Entertainment

Åge Markus Schultz and Hauk Seim Flåøien take matters into their own hands – NRK Innlandet – Local news, TV and radio

Stories like this are much needed.

Age Marcus Schultz (25) There is Non-binary, and have long missed representing themselves in computer games. His friend Hauke ​​Siem Floen (25), a transgender woman, knows the same.

Seven years ago, they formed game development company Vertebrae Entertainment.

Now they work An action game where the main character is gay.

– DBandits are very rare in games. We’ve seen a list of queer characters. In more than 100 characters, Schultz says, we can count the number of transmen on one hand.

Now the couple is receiving praise from many quarters.

Reflects itself

The as-yet-unnamed mysterious main character lives in a small fishing village. In the game, you can listen to the conversations of other citizens.

You may notice a kind of icy front, which melts a little as others get to know the main character, says Schultz.

Hen says much of the inspiration comes from the experience of being a stranger in a small village.

– Where I grew up, I felt that there were not many people like me. I want to explore that in the game.

Åge Markus Schultz

Inspiration: Schultz draws a lot of inspiration from her own experience growing up in a small place.

Photo: Frode Meskau / NRK

Vertebrae Entertainment has received support from the Eastern Norwegian Film Center to develop the fishing game. It’s still in development, and the duo plans to release the game in 2023.

Schultz believes it’s natural for queer game developers to want to represent themselves in the games they make. In that way, they will contribute to increasing diversity in the games industry.

Stay back

Joachim Johansson Østby is a senior lecturer in the Department of Media and Communication at the University of Oslo. He has researched the representation of queerness in sports and the development in recent years.

Joachim Johansson Østby

RESEARCHER: Østby researches, among others, queer game developers and players.

Photo: Private

Compared to film and television, he believes the gaming industry lags behind in diversity. Part of the reason is that the target group for computer games is usually young people.

But in the last 10-15 years, we’ve seen the gaming industry become more aware of representation, and we’re starting to realize that the gaming audience is very diverse.

Østby praises Verdebre Entertainment for betting on a game with a trans person.

Trans people are often portrayed as villains or sick victims in computer games, so it’s time for trans people to get good and valuable representation in games too.

Apart from the fact that representation in computer games will make many people feel that they are not alone, Østby believes that this will contribute to more transparency in society.

The unique thing about computer games is that you can gain an insight into what it would be like to stand in someone else’s shoes.

Representation in games isn’t the same as in film and TV, it’s a more dynamic and interactive format that I think a lot of people can enjoy.

The senior lecturer is also working on a new research project on queer game developers and players. One of the goals is to contribute to the government’s upcoming computer games strategy.

– Awesome project

Culture Minister Anette Trettebergstuen (Ap) says that the computer game strategy will contribute to the creation of more games, which in turn will contribute to greater diversity.

Anette Trettebergstuen

Computer Game Strategy: Drettebergstuen looks forward to providing computer game strategy.

Photo: Stig Jarvik / NRK

She worries that computer games, like movies and television, are something that surrounds us every day.

The universe we experience in games should be representative of what we experience in society.

Culture Minister Thane Schultz visited Flåøien, I think your project is exciting.

He says he’s rooting for new, younger players who focus on creating diverse games.

Concept image for Verdebre Entertainment's fishing game

Transman: The main character of Vertebrae Entertainment’s fishing game is a mysterious Transman.

Photo: Vertebrate Entertainment

On the road to recovery

Schultz and Floen believe the gaming industry is on the road to recovery when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

At the same time, they know there are negative players about growth.

Both believe they are ready to try their game.

It’s important to see people who aren’t like you and see other perspectives so you develop more empathy and understanding for others, says Floen.

Hauk Seim Flåøien works on the computer

Art: Flåøien is responsible for the game’s art and design.

Photo: Frode Meskau / NRK

Both say there is more interest in games with quirky stories.

It’s worth keeping your eyes open for the little “queers” in the boys’ room who have interesting stories to share.

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