The first Drag Supermodel in the world (aka the Queen of Drag), RuPaul Charles, has yet again expanded their legacy, this time in the form of a mobile app game called RuPaul’s Drag Race Superstar.
RuPaul’s Drag Race Superstar is the official mobile game for the Drag Race franchise, allowing everyone to become their own virtual queen.
It’s no secret that I am obsessed with RuPaul’s Drag Race (RPDR), probably to an unhealthy level. I’ve seen just about every single season at least once, some I’ve even gone back to multiple times just to feel alive.
Yes, this does include all 13 seasons of the regular Drag Race (whilst currently watching the newest 14th season), the six All-Stars seasons, the three UK seasons, two Canadian seasons, two Holland seasons, three Thai seasons, the Down Under season, the Italian season, the Spanish season, and the newest UK vs The World series.
I know, it’s a lot. But somehow, I can never get sick of consuming drag content which probably makes me the key demographic for this mobile app game.
It’s important to note, however, that you don’t need to be an avid RPDR fan or really know anything about drag to play this game.
Slay your way through the game
RuPaul’s Drag Race Superstar, developed by East Side Games, is an idle simulation game where you level up your werkstations (designed just like the ones from the show) in order to unlock a fabulous drag wardrobe.
By unlocking some pretty fierce fashion, you can compete in runway challenges and show off your stunning wardrobe and hopefully win some crowns!
There’s also a leaderboard where you rank against various players across the world. You can climb the leaderboard by gaining points from winning runways.
Unlike the actual show, there aren’t any consequences for losing a runway challenge and being told to “Sashay away” (aka eliminated from the competition) but you won’t earn as many prizes or gain any points on the global leaderboard.
The game works in episodes with a main runway challenge at the end of each episode, basically mimicking the real TV show.
This is a handy feature because it gives you the motivation to keep playing the game. I would try to power up my werkstations as quickly as possible so that I could get to the runway challenges faster and show off my beautiful wardrobe.
A super cool feature of the game is that you can unlock the actual queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race and win some of their most memorable outfits and wigs they wore on the show.
I managed to unlock Yvie Oddly (winner Season 11), Vanessa Vanjie Matteo (Season 10, 11), Latrice Royale (Season 4, All Stars 1 and 4) and Raven (Season 2 and All Stars 1) as well as unlock some of their iconic looks.
It’s also pretty cool that RuPaul’s Drag Race Superstar has been added to the library of games made by East Side Games who are known for turning popular TV Shows into mobile games like The Office, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Archer, just to name a few.
More recently, they announced they were working with Aussie developers Mighty Kingdom to bring a mobile game based on a popular legacy sci-fi franchise, Star Trek.
Something I want to make particular mention of is how RuPaul’s Drag Race Superstar lets you customise pretty much everything about your avatar.
Gender is very ambiguous in the game and you also have the choice to pick a body of a person who binds their chest which I haven’t really seen done anywhere else.
You can also change the size and skin colour of your avatar on a gradient scale with a lot of different options.
Normally in mobile games, you get a pretty standard set of options that don’t give you much room to make your own (read: white skin, smaller frames, either very masculine or feminine).
As the world of drag is a place where everyone can belong and feel free to be whoever they want to, it’s nice to see this implemented into the game.
The game is also free to download but of course, as with many mobile games, there are in-app purchases that allow you to get more gems and character packs.
One thing to note is how incredibly addicting this game is for how little you actually do in it.
It gives me very strong Cookie Clicker vibes because I find myself just staring into the abyss, clicking on the werkstations trying to level them up. At one stage, it became a regular part of my day where I would just have it open and endlessly click on things. Very empty brain energy. My drag closet was growing and thriving. I was on my way to becoming the next drag superstar.
That’s when disaster struck.
On that fateful morning when I first opened RuPaul’s Drag Race Superstar to start the endless cycle of clicking and winning runways it asked me to update the game.
Everything was pretty standard in terms of waiting for the game to download the update and re-accepting the updated terms of service. But then my colourful drag world quickly turned grey. It took me back to the start of the game.
I had lost everything.
RuPaul was asking me about my name and my avatar but it was hard to see through the tears I started to shed at the thought of losing my drag closet. I quickly went onto the App Store to see if anyone else was having the same problem as me and it looked like this update had wiped everything for a lot of people too.
Not to be dramatic (so unlike me) but the community was in mourning.
I didn’t want to give up hope though so I went back in and re-selected my avatar options and realised that I hadn’t lost everything. In fact, I hadn’t lost anything at all.
My wardrobe was still there and so were the characters I unlocked. My werkstation levels also stayed the same. It seemed like the only thing that changed was I had to start back at episode one but that was a small price to pay for being allowed to keep everything.
But then, not even a few days after that close-call, it happened again. But this time I actually lost everything.
In hindsight, maybe it’s a good thing that I had to restart and lose everything because this game really was taking a hold of my life.
Eastside Games did respond to the onslaught of reviews from those who were in the same boat as me and updated the game to allow for progress to be saved through your Facebook account but for me, the damage was already done.
Do you know what’s sadder than losing everything you worked hard for in a game you loved so dearly? Losing it twice.
The importance of RuPaul’s Drag Race Superstar
Whilst it may not seem like much on the surface, RuPaul’s Drag Race Superstar is an incredibly significant and important game.
To have open and unapologetic queer representation in a mobile game is a massive step forward in LGBTQIA+ rights.
To my knowledge, this game is the first of its kind in that it centres solely around drag queens and drag culture as a whole. For this to exist, it means that not only can young queer kids see themselves represented in gaming but also signals a positive sign of tides changing.
By no means am I saying that this app is going to solve world peace and give every queer and gender non-conforming person rights. I’m rather saying that having a game that showcases LGBTQIA+ excellence and talent is an incredibly impactful thing.
This app also has the potential to help people on their path of self-discovery.
On a personal level, I know first-hand how desperate you are as a young queer person to find somewhere that you can belong and fit in. To be in a world that accepts and embraces you.
For many people, that’s where gaming steps in.
Many queer people feel like they have to hide in the real world but when it comes to gaming, you’re allowed to step into whatever life you want.
RuPaul’s Drag Race Superstar amplifies the beauty in being who you want to be and allowing yourself the freedom to do so. To me, this is what gaming is all about at its core.
This mobile app, despite not being the biggest or most interactive, still allows queer people (and everyone) to enter a safe world where they can see themselves reflected back to them.
Going deeper than that, the discreetness of a mobile game allows those who may be fearful of their identity or find themselves in an unsafe environment where they cannot openly explore their identity.
Growing up, I didn’t have the freedom to openly explore drag (or my sexuality for that matter) and used to watch Drag Race in secret hoping it wouldn’t out me to my family.
If I had a mobile app like this, I would not have been so afraid of being outed because my parents never really cared about what I was playing on my phone, mostly because it was easier to hide.
Quitting a mobile gaming app is much easier to do than trying to hide RuPaul’s head from my family’s living room.
Even as an out and proud gay person, this app brings me so much joy knowing it exists and knowing that I can finally have a queer avatar.
I don’t want to say that other mobile games don’t allow for queer representation or narratives, because there are plenty that do. But a majority of mobile games that I have played have almost always been heterosexual focused with a heterosexual target audience.
On those games, it always felt like the queer character or storyline was a second thought and very two-dimensional whereas with this game, queerness is at the forefront and it’s (gladly) inescapable.
I just wish that the glitches weren’t so dire.
RIP my beautiful drag wardrobe, you will be dearly missed.
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