Queer Geek News Roundup: June 18, 2017

  • Oscar-nominated actress Jessica Chastain is in talks to play Lilandra, empress of the Shi'ar Empire, in X-Men: Dark Phoenix, scheduled for release in November 2018. The cast of the past few X-films is slated to return, even Jennifer Lawrence. Honestly, after Apocalypse I'd rather see a total reboot, but at least Chastain should serve up some good drag cosplay fodder.

This past week also brought us this E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo), the annual video game industry expo that brings us more game announcements and details than any other time of year. There are often at least a few tidbits of queer interest, and this year was no exception:

  • Life is Strange—the 2015 video game following the mystery-solving, time-traveling adventures of a pair of teen Oregonian girls—won acclaim for its storytelling, including its queer themes (said teen girls, Max and Chloe, are potentially more than friends, depending on what decisions the player makes). A newly announced prequel, Life is Strange: Before the Storm promises to up the queer quotient even further. Set several years prior to the original Life is Strange, the new game follows Chloe's friendship/romance with Rachel Amber, the girl whose disappearance provided the previous game's central mystery.

  • Microsoft's Xbox Live online service will receive an update this fall that will make all clothing for player's avatars gender-neutral (a major shift from the current system, where players must choose a gender and are limited to said gender's clothing options). It's a major step forward for inclusivity, and one that I'm hoping prompts other game companies to follow suit:

Designer Kathryn Storm explained: “Our new Avatars are built with inclusivity absolutely in mind, with more options and flexibility. We want people to feel like we have endless options to really reflect who they are.”

Project manager Bryan Saftler added: “When we think about what we want to design, at the end of the day, Avatars are meant for whatever you want your digital self to represent. We don’t want to put you in a box. There’s no more checkboxes. No matter what you think you look like, this whole avatar system is designed so that you can represent your best self on Xbox Live.”