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How to make a video game about drag queens

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A California-based studio is developing the sequel to RuPaul's Drag Race: Dragopolis, an iOS and Android game that will feature seven drag queens from the World of Wonder reality TV show RuPaul's Drag Race. The ingredients? Queens, sass, glitter and glamor.

Speaking to Polygon, So Much Drama Studios' founder Jeff Meador said the idea for the original Dragopolis came from the apparent lack of video games that targeted and spoke to the LGBT audience.

"I think [drag] has such a celebratory element to it," Meador said. "Queens are such fun and they're such characters — it was a great opportunity to bring something like that that has such joy and passion to it, to bring it to life within a video game where we could really take it and make it very cartoony and over the top in a lot of different ways."

The loading screen ... doesn't use the word 'loading' — it says 'tucking.'

"We never pulled back on anything. It was always more glitter, more sparkle, more beads. We put it all in there to really create something that's celebratory of the LGBT community and the drag community as well."

Meador describes the first Dragopolis as "an endless runner that ends." Players take on the role of a drag queen heroine who has to save the day after the villain Apocalypstyk kidnaps the men in RuPaul's pit crew. Players jump, dodge and claw their way past Apocalypstyk's minions, earning coins along the way to buy outfits, wigs and power-ups. RuPaul herself calls out encouragement like "Get it girl!" "Own it!" and "Mmmmhmmmm." If players make it to the end of each level, they're rewarded with a photoshoot that allows them to earn more coins.

The sequel, RuPaul's Drag Race: Dragopolis 2.0, will play differently. The game will have more puzzle elements, similar to Peggle. In Dragopolis 2.0, Apocalypstyck returns and steals the gowns, wigs and accessories from RuPaul's museum. Players have to help RuPaul retrieve what Apocalypstyck stole by completing puzzles. The game will launch with 45 levels and, as players complete each challenge, they will collect pieces of clothing or accessories. "It's very fashion-forward," Meador said.

Dragopolis is over-the-top and camp, much like RuPaul's Drag Race. The team of six developers at So Much Drama Studios has tried to capture the spirit of drag by inserting elements of drag culture at every turn. The loading screen, for example, doesn't use the word "loading" — it says "tucking." The development team has also been careful in the way they represent the queens.

"If you watch RuPaul's Drag Race, You probably have your favorite queen from the show, and you can probably describe in detail the outfits they've worn or the things they've said," Meador said. "You feel like you're connected to them. There is a very tight connection between the fans and the queens who appear on the show. So that's something we had to be very, very careful with."

The studio is currently recording voice-overs with the queens, and the game still has to undergo further testing, but Meador is hopeful that the drag community will enjoy it and that it might reach people who never knew about drag culture before.

"Maybe we'll introduce a new audience to RuPaul's Drag Race, and maybe we'll reach people who are like, 'Oh my god, I never knew that's what drag was,'" he said.

And as for the queens themselves?

"They love it," Meador said. "They think it's really, really hysterical."