Dr Alayna Cole is a games journalist, writer, researcher, developer, and university lecturer. She uses her multi-faceted involvement in the games industry as a foundation for improving diverse queer representation.
Alayna founded Queerly Represent Me (QRM) in May 2016, and now manages a team of ten researchers and consultants. She has used her role as managing director to help improve inclusivity for the queer community.
QRM is a consultation and research organisation. They work with companies to consult on their games, events, and studio culture, and use proceeds from these contracts to provide free resources and services to the wider community, particularly to give a voice to queer developers and support the creation of queer content.
The organisation works to:
- Assist queer individuals who are attempting to join or increase their influence in the games industry to gain skills, network with established individuals, and feel that their work is valuable.
- Consult with game studios and other teams about the diversity structures in their games, events, and companies.
- Research representations of queerness within videogames, and present research findings to a broad audience to help communities better understand the value of media representation.
QRM was founded as a sole trader company, but has since transformed into a not-for-profit with a team of ten. They have several ongoing initiatives, including an exhaustive database of games featuring queer representation, guides and lectures to assist people for free in improving their approaches to diversity, interviews with queer developers and others working in the games industry to help share their voices and stories, an annual zine that pays queer creators for their work on the intersections between queerness and other forms of marginalisation, annual 'game jams' where creators are encouraged to make games that feature underrepresented queer identities, and other ongoing outreach projects.
QRM features approximately 200,000 words of research, and has taken countless unpaid hours to establish and maintain.
In the past twelve months, Alayna has spoken at many events as part of her work with QRM, including Freeplay Independent Games Festival 2018, GCAP 2017, and PAX Australia 2017. She writes academically and journalistically about queer issues, and contributes regularly to publications such as Hyper, Develop Pacific, FemHype, and others. She uses her platform as a journalist to ensure that her academic work about queer representation and the queer community can be accessed by the public.
In addition to non-fiction writing, Alayna shares her message of inclusivity through her game development. Her award-winning serious game, Enthymema, encourages audiences to reflect on themselves and their self-identity. Meanwhile, her title Snapshot is a semi-autobiographical exploration of her process in understanding her own sexuality, and was featured internationally at the Queerness in Games conference in 2017.
Alayna was nominated in several categories for the LGBTI Awards in 2016 and 2017, was included in the MCV Pacific 30 under 30 list for 2016 and 2017-8, and was featured on the MCV Pacific Women in Games list for 2017 for her ongoing commitment to improving diversity in games and in the games industry.
Alayna has targeted videogames because they are a pervasive, influential medium, perfect for self-expression and fostering empathy; she hopes that her work in the games industry will have an impact on media more widely, and can act as a catalyst for necessary social change.
Dr Alayna Cole is the managing director and founder of Queerly Represent Me, a not-for-profit championing queer representation in games. Alayna works as a sessional lecturer in the Serious Games department at the University of the Sunshine Coast, and is an award-winning games journalist and game developer. She holds a doctorate in Creative Arts (Creative Writing) and has broad research interests, but is primarily focused on creating and analysing narratives that improve diverse representation, particularly of gender and sexuality. She is currently researching the representation of queer identities in games from the mid-1980s to present. Alayna was featured on the 2016 and 2017 MCV Pacific 30 under 30, and the 2017 MCV Pacific Women in Games lists.