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Dead by Daylight slays – why is it a queer classic?

Behaviour Interactive’s asymmetrical-multiplayer horror game Dead By Daylight has garnered an extremely dedicated fanbase since its debut in 2016, and shows no sign of relenting as one of the most streamed video games of all time. With its wide cast of characters, including iconic figures in horror like Freddy Krueger, Pyramid Head and Ghostface, it has inevitably tapped into one of the most fervent demographics of horror fans: the LGBTQ+ community!

The history of horror is undoubtedly queer. It challenges boundaries, beckons the unknown, and whispers “what if?” Dead By Daylight has proven to be an outlet for queer gamers to share in the triumphs and tragedies that befall the characters in a way similar to seminal slashers of the past.

We caught up with a couple LGBTQ+ Fog Whisperers (official Dead By Daylight partners that build communities via streaming) known as Milady, Eevolicious and Sammymjay, as well as Mae Morrison, the Influencer Manager at Behaviour Interactive, to discuss what makes Dead By Daylight such a classic for the queer community.

Mae Morrison, Influencer Manager at Behaviour Interactive
A common belief is that there’s an inherent connection between horror and queerness. What are your thoughts on this, and do you think that it contributes to the appeal of Dead by Daylight to the LGBTQ+ community?

Milady Confetti (Fog Whisperer and Founder of Sistas of the Fog): Yes, there are many links and studies related to the queer community feeling more drawn to the horror genre. In my opinion, it’s because it often interrupts the heteronormative status quo! I think that by featuring so many icons from horror/slasher films, and being home to so many LGBTQIA2+ streamers, Dead By Daylight appeals to the creativity and relationship associated with queer folks and horror.

Sammymjay (Fog Whisperer and Rainbow Arcade Member): Horror has always been popular with the LGBTQIA+ community. A surprising number of horror creators are part of the community, from Clive Barker who brought us Hellraiser and Candyman, Don Mancini who brought us Chucky and the Child’s Play series, and Kevin Williams who created Ghostface. Dead By Daylight featuring some of these iconic characters, as well as the powerful female leads that are the main protagonists, really excite the community.

Eevolicious (Fog Whisperer and Rainbow Arcade Member): I’ve heard so many stories of queer people that were always passionate for the horror genre—however, the same doesn’t exactly apply to me. I’ve always been TERRIFIED of the horror genre—especially horror movies involving spirits. Watching The Exorcist when I was only 13 years old was a HUGE mistake! I have to say, though, as I started streaming and I was trying to diversify the games that I played, I was captivated by the strange rush of playing a horror game. It was a huge challenge that made me fall in love with the genre! I think the queer community has also always been keen on the “strange and freaky”, and I understand exactly how it correlates with the shared love of horror in the community, and it’s a reason why I’ve ended up loving Dead by Daylight as well.

Mae Morrison (Influencer Manager at Behaviour Interactive): I think it’s because horror is so subversive. There are so many thoughtful pieces on society camouflaged in the gore of horror media. There’s also a lot of queer subtext, and even a lesbian protagonist in a horror movie as early as the 1960s. While I can’t speak for everyone, growing up in the 80s without representation in popular media made me feel like I was apart from the crowd—the kind of strange character you would find in horror. I never saw myself in the Babysitter’s Club, but I certainly felt a kinship to the characters in Goosebumps and Fear Street.

Looking to show off your pride? Equip this charm as Killer and Survivor!
Dead By Daylight is one of the most-streamed video games of all time on Twitch TV. Do you think that the LGBTQ+ community has had an impact on Dead By Daylight’s popularity?

Milady Confetti: Yes! There are so many LGBTQIA2+ creators, writers and artists within the horror community via various mediums like movies, video games, television, etc. I think Dead By Daylight combines our love for horror with community and connection. Many LGBTQIA2+ stream teams, cosplayers, Drag Artists, podcasts and players have all found community bonding over horror and finding safety amongst each other in a world where queerness is on the receiving end of much hate. The more we connect with one another, the more it contributes to and influences the LGBTQIA2+ content creation surrounding Dead by Daylight.

Sammymjay: I can speak from experience that the LGBTQIA+ community on Twitch is very close and there are so many supportive people out there. I feel like the community presence, plus the chill environment really gives streamers the opportunity to interact with their community while playing. Behaviour Interactive has continued to support and uplift the voices of the LGBTQIA+ content creators, giving us a platform to express ourselves, and it really resonates with us.

Eevolicious: Absolutely! Anytime you search for Dead by Daylight streamers you will see that many of the content creators are, in fact, part of the LGBTQIA2+ community. I believe that Twitch is truly a place where you can find a relatable community! The queer community stands together very closely, and since Dead by Daylight can be played with 5 people, it’s easy to find community members to play with you. So many of my viewers started streaming Dead by Daylight after being inspired by our own streams! I love seeing the community of queer creators continue to grow on the platform.

Mae: Oh absolutely! The more people see content creators having fun with a game, the more people want to engage with it. The LGBTQIA2S+ community embracing Dead by Daylight has been a real gift, so we do our best to highlight them as content creators and show respect for their talent as a thank you for their involvement.

Sammymjay, Fog Whisperer and Rainbow Arcade Member
The Dead By Daylight team has stated in the past that they are committed to incorporating more LGBTQ+ content into the game. What aspect would you most like to see this expanded on and why?

Milady Confetti: I would like to see more asexual representation. Oftentimes, when referencing LGTBQIA2+, the first 4 or 5 letters are what is discussed/written about the most, putting a lot of weight on the “+.” Asexuality is often “othered”, even within the queer community, and having more visibility normalizes our existence and validity. I would love to see an asexual in-game charm, and asexual Survivor cosmetics that are available for multiple Survivors, and not just limited to one or two.

Sammymjay: It’s always disheartening to see when people are singled out for using or wearing Pride cosmetics in-game; however, the love and support for the Pride Charm addition has been amazing. I think we’d all appreciate a Survivor that’s proudly and openly a part of the LBGTQIA+ community, without falling into negative stereotypes—perhaps someone that represents the diversity that exists within the LGBTQIA+ community itself. People don’t always appreciate retcons, but what if one of the existing Survivors came out?

Eevolicious: This brings up a conversation about representation. The gaming industry has been majorly led by cis-men for decades, or longer, and this has shaped the way that consumers saw the gaming world—for example, “Men are ridiculously strong and masculine,” and, “Women are ridiculously ‘sexy’ and generally helpless.” We need to change the way things are presented and represent all different identities and life stories that shape us into who we are. Incorporating more LGBTQIA2+ elements into the game, like a character, would be SO grand for the queer community. It makes me emotional to think that one day, it will be a reality—that one day, someone out there will log in to the game and think, “That’s someone like me.”

Mae: Yes! We did make a statement recently about this, with the goal of being transparent with our community. The team’s objective is to take the necessary time to ensure that we get this right—creating the right kind of content, rather than just checking a box. We’re working with GaymerX, who are supporting us with the best practices for integrating LGBTQIA2+ themes into games, and I really can’t wait until we’re able to share more!

Dead by Daylight Into the Rainbow
Earlier this month, Dead by Daylight celebrated and raised money during Pride with Into the Rainbow
Do you think that there is an element of escapism for LGBTQ+ people that play horror games like Dead By Daylight?

Milady Confetti: I do believe there is a level of escapism when playing horror games. With Dead by Daylight, the ability to play with friends, cosplaying characters, and making content surrounding the game and characters are all good examples. For me, there is a level of competition with myself to always be improving with each match. I also love when new content launches because it opens up more opportunities for discussion and cosplay, which are spaces often led by LBGTQIA2+ people, which draws me in.

Sammymjay: Escapism is a part of all gaming, TV shows, and movies. Media in general is a way to keep us all distracted from the real horrors of life.

Eevolicious: Yes! Generally, horror games are some of the most elaborate and creative ways to tell a story. From personal experience, when I play a horror game, I am one hundred percent invested in it, and the immersion is rarely ruined. With Dead by Daylight, the same thing happens—the gameplay can be super intense, but it can also be all sorts of hilarious too! Just get yourself a group of friends who want to have a nice chill night, grab your favorite beverage, and see how it goes, haha! There are so many people who watch my stream after a long day of work, and just want to hang out and watch a few rounds. It’s so great to find a tribe that you can forget about everything and enjoy your time with.

Mae: Personally, I believe escapism is an element of all games, and Dead by Daylight is no different. I find it’s just a different flavour of escapism. It’s a special blend of spooky lore and asymmetric play. On a personal level, I enjoy being the plucky protagonist who triumphs, because we don’t always get to see that in the media.

Milady Confetti, Fog Whisperer and Founder of Sistas of the Fog
Do you think that your LGBTQ+ identity impacts your gameplay preference, such as enjoying the feeling of perseverance as Survivor, or the feeling of control as Killer?

Milady Confetti: I love playing Killer—I love the challenge that comes it. When I play Killer, I often create a narrative for the Survivors, often renaming them and setting up an entire background story to suit the situation and how they react to my playstyle, which I find fun and my community finds entertaining. As a Black asexual woman, I am always at the intersection of all of my identities and cultures, so it does impact who I am and what I do every day! 

Sammymjay: Growing up as part of an often-victimized minority group, many members of the LGBTQIA community have experienced bullying in varying degrees. As such, there may be something to be said about the correlation between surviving life and surviving in-game.

Eevolicious: I’ve been a gamer since I was a little child, and one of my favorite characters in one of my favorite games was Chun-Li from Street Fighter! I didn’t understand at the time why I always wanted to play as the cute girl, or as the less popular sneaky guy, like Blanka. I believe at the core of my essence, I’ve always been the “different” kid, and it only became more prevalent as years passed. With Dead by Daylight, I tend to play as one of the “diva” Killers! Let’s say they are my “Chun-Lis” of nowadays, haha! Killer gameplay is more appealing to me because the format is streaming friendly, and I feel like as the Killer, I can “control” the outcome of the game. Does this make me a control freak? Maybe!

Mae: In a circuitous way. Being poly/pan is part of what shaped me into who I am, and that is a person who really likes to chill with her friends on voice, while trying to pull Survivors off hooks.

Dead by Daylight mobile players also celebrated Pride with Bloodhunt Week!
How important is it for you to have media that is 100% dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community—something that is wholly and fully invested into being for the community?

Milady Confetti: It is important that media is dedicated to the LGTBQIA2+ community while also being diverse in its approach, meaning in a way that looks at all identities and representation, and not just the first 4 or 5 letters of the LGBTQIA2+ community. This would be media that identifies different bodies, genders, races, cultures, ability, etc.. Intersectionality as a major focus in the LGTBQIA2+ community is IMPERATIVE. I believe gaming media needs to focus on this and needs to normalize and vocalize that gaming is for everyone and is diverse at its core. The days of gaming looking homogenous (cis straight white men with a rare moment of diversity) is dwindling. Media has the power to drive social impact and conversations in any industry, so I believe it is the duty of the media to drive these conversations and have a dedication and commitment to diversity in ALL forms intersectionality. 

Sammymjay: Media has a massive influence on society, especially on youth, and it’s incredibly important to keep that message going. 100% inclusivity into mainstream society isn’t too much to ask, and I’m always trying to get the message across in my streams that the fight is never over until it happens.

Eevolicious: Yes, yes, and yes! I do believe that the world is a lot more accepting than a few years ago. However, there’s still many people who don’t understand and don’t open their hearts to learn about what it’s like to be “different.” In toxic environments, such as the gaming industry and in gaming spaces, it’s very important that media is specifically representing the LGBTQIA2+ community—not only to open people up to different backgrounds and identities, but also to remind queer folks that they are being represented and are appreciated.

Mae: I think it’s important to be able to see yourself represented 100%. And I think it’s good to have a queer channel the same way that there’s a sports channel and music channel. But I do long for the day that representation is much more prevalent, and I don’t have to specifically seek out queer media to find it.

Eevolicious, Fog Whisperer and Rainbow Arcade Member
If you were going out to your favorite queer bar or hangout, which Dead By Daylight Survivor would you want to bring along to party with you?

Milady Confetti: Claudette and Adam! I feel like we would all go to the library, have snacks and just nerd out over books and education, and just freely exist while Black.

Sammymjay: Well, David…I think that’s a given. But also, Yui and Elodie look like they know all the best clubs to go to, and when you get those two together, you know you’re in for a good night out. Those girls are wild! Jane would make sure everyone gets back home safely.

Eevolicious: Jane! She sounds like she’s the one committed to dance all night and I’m all up for that!

Mae: I would bring Nea! I just feel like we would get along. We’re both artists, so I would love to have a few shots, then find an abandoned building to collaborate on an epic mural. Maybe kiss? Who knows!

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