Queering Video Games with Artist Christophe Galati
Drag has been an increasing influence on the work of this video designer, the first to be admitted to the Villa Kujoyama residency programme.
‘Himitsu’ by Christophe Galati with Pixel Art by Pixel Boy
Best known for his wildly successful Save Me Mr Tako, released in 2018 with Nintendo, Christophe Galati is a video-game creator who is breaking new ground. In 2019, he was the first game designer to be admitted to the prestigious Villa Kujoyama artist residency programme in Kyoto, run by the Institut Français.
Galati’s acceptance to Kujoyama represents a push towards recognising video-game design as an art form that allows for a greater freedom of creation, not just imaginatively, but structurally, for residencies such as Kujoyama provide a stipend and a space to work, allowing for the financial freedom to create and experiment.
Virtual drag scenes
Drag has been an increasing influence on his work, with Christophe Galati having been introduced to the scene by his drag-queen friend, Mirage. ‘I want to help improve representation through my media; that’s why I included several queer characters in Save me Mr Tako,’ says Galati. His next project, Himitsu, will go even further towards creating a cohesive underground drag scene; one of the main characters will be ‘a drag performer who will have a huge part in the story and will allow me to explore many queer themes,’ says Galati. ‘I’ll make sure to stay in touch with drag artists to help me represent their art well in pixel form.’
The video designer calls his narrative style vintage or retro. ‘In games, players are usually in control of the main characters; as designers we have to pave ways for them to follow the story we want to tell,’ he recounts. ‘By controlling the character progression through virtual locks and doors, players will discover the worlds I build in the order I have decided, so I can deliver the story through the environment and the colourful characters living in it, as well as through cutscenes, where players briefly lose control so that we can see the main characters play their part of the narrative.’
Christophe Galati hopes to see video-game design develop as an art form, especially now that technical barriers have dropped. ‘I think that as an industry we can do better, by giving more visibility and power to underrepresented game creators that bring something different to the table,’ he says.
Christophe Galati with character design by Valentin Seiche
Villa Kujoyama 2019 Christophe Galati
Viva Villa festival 2019 Villa Kujoyama Christophe Galati
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