These five video games feature LGBTQ characters and storylines, which makes them perfect for Pride Month.
From popular franchises like Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed to indie titles, LGBTQ+ characters and themes are becoming increasingly common in video games. In celebration of Pride Month, here are five titles worth exploring in June, including open-world RPGs and dating simulators.
Life Is Strange
Dontnod Entertainment’s Life is Strange follows the story of Max Caulfield as she learns to control her time manipulation powers to save the life of Chloe Price, a childhood friend whose murder she witnessed. The two build a very special relationship over the course of the game. However, forces beyond Max’s ability to warp time are pushing to end Chloe’s life, so Max uses what control she has to try to save Chloe and change the future.
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As well as allowing players to live vicariously through Max and explore her budding feelings for Chloe, the game centers around many problems and themes young people experience while in high school, such as bullying, suicide and the dangers of partying, intoxication and abduction.
Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator
Game Grumps’ Dream Daddy is a dating simulator that allows players to romance several dads. Players navigate the visual novel style gameplay as a lonely single father moving to a new neighborhood with his daughter Amanda, where the player meets and interacts with several single fathers living on their street. In addition to focusing on romances between dads, players can customize their character with diverse body options and gender presentations.
The game started off as a joke between its writers Vernon Shaw and Leighton Gray, as there are many dating simulators on the market predominantly geared towards heterosexual males. Dream Daddy is not only humorously written, it instills positive values into its player-base by tackling difficult subjects through its teachings on fatherhood and romance.
Mass Effect 3
After two installments Mass Effect with misguided LGBTQ representation, BioWare stepped up its game in Mass Effect 3 by allowing male and female protagonists to romance any gender they desire. The writers focused on creating scenes that could be engaged by players of any gender, as well as ones that are exclusively same-sex, and wrote meaningful relationships that felt real to players.
Patrick Weekes, one of the writers for Mass Effect 3, stated in an interview, “I really wanted to avoid writing something that people saw and went, ‘That’s a straight guy writing lesbians for other straight guys to look at.'”
Toby Fox’s Undertale saw overwhelming success with its pixelated art style, fourth-wall-breaking moments, unique story and cute, quirky characters. The main character, Frisk, is gender-ambiguous and characters throughout the game seem to eschew binary gender norms.
One character, Papyrus, is flamboyant and often strikes dynamic poses that reflect his gender fluidity. Another character Undyne is an unabashed butch lesbian with a penchant for fighting. A scientist monster named Alphys is bisexual and has a hard time admitting her feelings for anyone, though in particular she crushes on Undyne, Frisk, or other characters depending on which story route is taken.
The Last of Us: Left Behind
A prequel to the events in 2013’s The Last of Us, Left Behind starts a few weeks before Naughty Dog’s main narrative. Players experience the DLC as a flashback Ellie has while healing and protecting a wounded Joel on their journey. In the flashback Ellie is startled out of bed by her friend Riley before exploring a long-forgotten shopping mall.
In the DLC players see Ellie’s feelings for Riley emerge. The interactions between Ellie and Riley were critically acclaimed and considered groundbreaking at the time. The game represents a window into teen sexuality through which major motion pictures and television series rarely look. This DLC helped to cement Ellie as a strong, young, gay female character in a period of gaming history dominated by straight male protagonists. Character traits for Ellie established here are further explored in The Last of Us: Part II, where it is clear Ellie is in full control of her sexual desires as she shares a tender kiss with another woman.
The gaming industry has come a long way toward allowing players to connect with characters and relate to them in multiple ways. No longer are games viewed as simply a portal for heterosexual, male-dominated power fantasies. Game developers and their dedicated communities have proven LGBTQ+ values are here to stay and the industry is far richer because of it.
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