The video games trade has not at all times been good at portraying LGBTQ+ relationships and identities, however because of the efforts of small studios, indie builders, and LGBTQ+ creators, that is starting to alter. Not solely do we now have sufficient video games with sturdy LGBTQ+ themes on the Nintendo Swap that we will really make a listing, however all of those video games are exceptionally good. We’re spoiled for alternative!
However what precisely constitutes an “LGBTQ+ recreation”, anyway? It is greater than only a recreation that has some illustration in it — it is a recreation that is proudly consultant, that wears its queerness on its sleeve.
For instance, we’re not counting video games like Overwatch, which has LGBTQ+ illustration in characters like Tracer and Soldier 76, however who have been each confirmed to be homosexual in materials outdoors of the sport, and we’re not together with Miitopia, Harvest Moon, and Story of Seasons, as a result of though they let gamers marry characters of the identical gender, they name it “finest buddies” — which is fairly dismissive in 2021.
A few of the video games we have included, like Undertale, are additionally “queer” within the sense that they prioritise group, non-violence, intimacy and tenderness over battle and inflicting ache on others, or of their presentation, aesthetics, and vogue. These video games additionally embrace specific LGBTQ+ illustration, however we wished to have a look at queerness from a number of angles, too.
Nevertheless, please remember that, for a lot of of those video games, their LGBTQ+ content material is a plot level, and so there are a lot of spoilers in right here. Blissful spoilers, however spoilers nonetheless!
Writer: Finji / Developer: Infinite Fall
Though Evening within the Woods’ plot is predominantly in regards to the mysterious goings-on in Possum Springs, and protagonist Mae Borowski’s personal private demons, the precise day-to-day of the sport includes Mae and her buddies being homosexual and doing crimes. No, actually — that is their catchphrase: “Be homosexual, do crimes”. With a portrayal of a loving homosexual relationship between Gregg and Angus, plus Mae’s personal pansexuality, Evening within the Woods paints an image of a gaggle of buddies who aren’t afraid to be their most genuine selves.
Writer: Humble Video games / Developer: Blissful Ray Video games
Think about a recreation like Harry Potter, however set in a world that is each welcoming and happy with its trans, pansexual, non-binary, homosexual and queer characters, and you have got Ikenfell, a Chrono Set off-style RPG about saving the world from magic gone improper.
The teenagers at Ikenfell’s wizarding faculty vary from “discovering their sexuality” to being out-and-out flirts, which is a refreshing tackle the “all teenagers are nervous about kissing” trope. It is also one of many solely video games we have ever performed to function neo-pronouns, with one of many lecturers utilizing xe/xir.
Writer: 8-4 / Developer: 8-4
Undertale’s most overt LGBTQ+ reference is the “finest ending”, which — spoilers — includes the completely WONDERFUL lesbian relationship between Alphys and Undyne, which you’ll be able to simply miss until you are doing a pacifist run.
Varied different low-key queer representations abound, from Mettatron’s gender presentation to the primary character’s use of they/them pronouns, and on prime of all of that’s the recreation’s “queerness” in the way in which it presents non-traditional alternate options to the machismo and battle that video video games are usually centred round. It’s each textually, and thematically, queer — and that is one of many causes it is so dang widespread.
Writer: Matt Makes Video games / Developer: Matt Makes Video games
Celeste is an excellent, punishingly-hard platformer by most of the people who labored on Towerfall. Its story is generally involved with protagonist Madeline’s psychological well being struggles as she makes an attempt to climb a mountain, regardless of her self-doubt.
Not solely does the workforce that labored on it symbolize most of the letters within the LGBTQ+ acronym, however Maddy Thorson — the sport’s director and designer, who’s non-binary — confirmed that Madeline herself is trans. In reality, it was the making of Celeste that helped Maddy come to phrases with their very own gender emotions!
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Writer: ConcernedApe / Developer: ConcernedApe
The Story of Seasons video games and Harvest Moon video games have traditionally been greater than slightly unhealthy at representing same-sex relationships. Lots of them will let you may have same-sex marriages, however the truth that these are generally known as “finest buddy ceremonies” in Japan offers you an thought of simply how progressive this actually is.
Stardew Valley, a recreation closely impressed by Harvest Moons of the previous, is much less shy about its LGBTQ+ illustration.
Writer: Annapurna Interactive / Developer: Annapurna Interactive
Gone House is without doubt one of the first narrative video games that’s informed nearly solely by discovered objects, as Katie Greenbriar returns dwelling to her household’s empty home. By strolling round and discovering numerous diary entries, cassette tapes, and items of paper, Katie can put collectively what occurred: her sister, Sam, fell in love with one other girl, and after being rejected by her household, determined to run away together with her.
Whereas we by no means get extra data than that, and Sam’s story isn’t expanded upon, it is introduced as a cheerful ending to a recreation that is stuffed with fear and concern about why the home is abandoned.
Writer: Plug In Digital / Developer: Plug In Digital
What would you do should you discovered a locked cellphone belonging to a stranger? If the reply is “I would undergo all of the texts and emails, however I would really feel REALLY unhealthy about it,” then maybe you may indulge your curiosity harmlessly with A Regular Misplaced Telephone.
You discover the cellphone of Sam, an adolescent whose life you slowly unwrap as you undergo their correspondence with family and friends. Finally, it can change into clear why Sam has deserted the cellphone: to begin a brand new life away from their homophobic and transphobic household, and stay authentically.
Writer: Restricted Run Video games
The Home in Fata Morgana begins in an deserted home, as you — an amnesiac thriller individual — discover the recollections of the mansion. Travelling by time, you watch tales of abuse, grief, heartbreak, homicide, and on the centre of all of it, a witch’s curse — however ultimately you will come to the reality of the entire thing. Fata Morgana is a tragic story of rejection, othering, and discovering one’s true identification, even when it means shedding all the things else.