Date of Award

May 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Media Studies

First Advisor

Michael Z Newman

Committee Members

Elana Levine, Lia Wolock


Fandom, Queer Studies, Video Games


Created in 2012, Pokémon Reborn is a fan game made by and for queer fans of the Pokémon franchise. Featuring an LGBTQ+ development team and multiple queer characters, from pansexual Rival Cain to gender non-binary Gym Leader Adrienn, Pokémon Reborn articulates queer desires in a franchise and gaming industry notorious for ignoring and dehumanizing queer individuals. While most research on independent queer game development focuses on how creators subvert heteronormative gameplay elements, Pokémon Reborn challenges dominant industry practices through its queer characters and stories. The fan game incorporates LGBTQ+ lived experiences and queer temporalities in its narrative, queering the traditional storytelling tropes of the Pokémon franchise. The development of Pokémon Reborn queers industry production practices through online collaboration and a vested interest in queer lives and struggles. LGBTQ+ fans of the game use the queer characters of Pokémon Reborn to renegotiate and understand their queer identities. The fan game points to several ways video game industries can meaningfully include and respect LGBTQ+ individuals in production, reception, and games themselves.