In this article:
- Queer video games are few and far in between, let alone games where the player character identifies as queer.
- Recently, though, newer games have been making a push for representation by including queer romances, and a number of them canonically make the lead characters transgender.
- These queer video games were developed by studios and indie developers alike, particularly queer indie devs whose games you can buy in bulk right now with Itch.io’s Queer Games Bundle 2022.
Finding video games where a character is actually queer is hard in a world where the existence of any character that isn’t white, straight, cisgender, and male is inherently political and an affront to everything wholesome in gaming because of the Queer Agenda™.
This is the part where someone starts writing a hateful comment because gay bad, no queer joy for you.
Jokes aside, many game companies, like Riot, the makers of League of Legends, leave their queer characters as unimportant side characters. If they are playable, they downplay their queerness and only mention it in Tweets and lore so homophobic gamers don’t rage quit the game.
It sucks and it’s not very Pride. But these indie and Triple-A queer video games go above and beyond — compared to industry standards — by having openly queer main characters and letting you engage in queer romances.
Queer Video Games Featuring LGBT+ Characters and Storylines
1. Disco Elysium
A bisexual man and a gay man walk into a crime scene. That’s not a joke, by the way, that’s the opening of Disco Elysium, a point-and-click RPG designed for TTRPG players and bookworms.
Developed by ZA/UM, this game takes place in Revachol, a city that has never recovered from the ravages of a failed revolutionary war. The city is teeming with the broken hopes of revolutionaries, closed businesses, and individual people who all hoped to rise above the system but couldn’t.
Set against the backdrop of Revachol, Harry and Kim try to solve the murder of a local man, but find themselves having to fix something much bigger than they bargained for.
The game includes depictions of homophobia, but it’s not a self-flagellation fest and you run into a lot of touching moments between queer characters and their allies.
2. The Sims 4
Electronic Arts’ The Sims 4 probably doesn’t strike you as one that would appear on a list of queer video games. It seems unlikely that it would include LGBT+ characters because of its family-friendly vibe (which, in many games, often means there is no queer representation). But it does let you play as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or aroace Sim.
Plus, if you have the Wicked Whims mod, you can set up polyamorous relationships between your Sims.
The Sims 4‘s Create A Sim also lets you create transgender characters. CAS has been updated to let you control whether your male or female Sim wears feminine or masculine clothing, pees sitting up or sitting down, and whether your Sim can get others pregnant or if your Sim can get pregnant.
The game’s Build mode also has a number of Pride-themed decor items and if you have the Seasons pack, you can create your very own Sims Pride party.
3. Assasin’s Creed: Odyssey
While it isn’t the first Assassin’s Creed game to have a female playable character — that honor goes to Assasin’s Creed III: Liberation — the 2018 Assasin’s Creed: Odyssey is the first one where playing a female or male character doesn’t affect your experience of the game.
You still go through the same storyline and play the same main protagonist regardless of whether you play as Alexios or Kassandra.
And the game doesn’t care if you romance the men or the women or both — as befitting the cultural zeitgeist of ancient Greece, of course.
That said, the game did get into hot water after a DLC forced players who played their Alexios or Kassandra as gay or lesbian (or aroace) into a heterosexual romance so that they can have a baby (for plot reasons).
It has since been patched so you don’t have to worry about it.
4. Dragon Age: Inquisition
Bioware’s Dragon Age: Inquisition is mostly known for its action-packed fantasy storytelling, but it’s also a pretty fun LGBT dating simulator. Not only does it give you more options for romanceable characters than previous games, but it doesn’t lock those options based on your character’s race or gender.
The romanceable NPCs don’t just respond to the player character regardless of their own sexuality and will reject you if you aren’t a romanceable option to them (i.e playing as a female character when romancing a heterosexual female character).
5. My Time at Portia
Just like The Sims 4, My Time at Portia allows you to romance every romanceable NPC regardless of the gender of your player character.
The game treats all player characters the same so not only can you marry NPCs of the same sex, but you can also have children with your in-game spouse whether you’re a heterosexual couple or not.
Now, you’re probably wondering if that’s realistic and the answer is that it’s a cozy video game. Let people enjoy things.
Aside from romance, My Time at Portia lets you enjoy a 3D open-world town called, well, Portia where you can run your own workshop, start a little farm, and chase around unnaturally large chicks into the sunset.
6. Mass Effect
Everybody give it up for the o.g: Mass Effect. This science-fiction video game where humans colonize the known universe alongside alien civilizations while acknowledging the fact that if we can have FTL travel, we sure as heck can let people be gay in space.
Mass Effect has allowed players to enter same-sex relationships since the first game in the trilogy came out in 2007.
While that doesn’t seem like a long time ago, very few media prior to the 2010s depicted queer romances in a positive, or at the very least, neutral light without being incredibly tone-deaf.
In the first Mass Effect, you can romance either Ashley and Liara or Kaidan and Liara depending on whether your Shepard is male or female. It’s admittedly a little limiting, and clearly, your male Shepard can’t be gay, but hey, bisexual female Shepard confirmed?
7. Tell Me Why
In Tell Me Why, you play as Tyler Ronan who goes back to Alaska to find the truth about his mother’s death together with his twin sister, Alyson.
The twins can communicate with each other telepathically and many of their investigations end up with them having to go on a trip down memory lane. This gets really tricky and tense as Alyson and Tyler have very different recollections of the past owing to the fact that Tyler is a transman.
The game has a lot of intense moments and is inclusive of a lot of minority experiences. And no, Tell Me Why won’t disappoint you as it’s been noted for the realistic and sensitive handling of its subject matter.
Hades is a game where a bisexual god tries to walk out of hell and that’s by design.
According to Greg Kasavin of Supergiant Games, Hades‘ developer, the protagonist Zagreus was intentionally made to be bisexual.
In the game, this means that whether the player ultimately chooses to have Zagreus date Thanatos or Megaera, there is no way to play Zagreus as gay or heterosexual because he’s implied to have a history with both.
Take that, bi-erasure.
Gameplay-wise, Hades is a roguelike that will satisfy even people who hate roguelikes. It’s full of charming, well-voiced characters, is endlessly replayable, and has believable romantic interactions.
Oh, and you can have polyamorous, bisexual Zagreus if you opt for the (surprisingly very wholesome) throuple route.
9. Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator
Yes, the game is gay.
Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator is a game where you’re playing as a single father who’s trying to raise his daughter while picking his favorite daddy in a neighborhood that’s incidentally full of other single, gay dads.
It’s a visual novel-style dating game that fans of JRPGs are likely more than familiar with.
It lets you choose between seven romanceable characters, most of which are single. There’s a dad to suit every taste as the game contains an artist dad, fitness dad, academic dad, stage dad, goth dad, mysterious dad, and even youth minister dad.
Be cautious, though, because one of these dads is married.
10. Borderlands 3
Borderlands 3 is an LGBT-friendly FPS game where you can shoot down enemies as a non-binary robot or a pansexual ex-mercenary with a spouse on multiple planets. Okay, that’s not a lot of options considering that games like this have tons of characters, but hey, they’re giving variety outside the typical lesbian, gay, and bisexual representation here.
Borderlands 3 takes place on a distant planet where rivaling factions compete for control after the death of Handsome Jack in the first Borderlands creates a power vacuum.
The factions race against each other to gain control of the Vaults which are rumored to contain the secrets of an ancient alien civilization that has long since left the planet.
11. Just Cosplay
Just Cosplay is a trans coming of age story where the protagonist comes to realize their true self and learns to accept it through cosplay.
Created by Deadnette Games and written by Alex Thixton, the Itch.io page for the game describes it as a “semi-autobiographical text-based game” so don’t expect flashy visuals.
That said, it’s a short, touching story that can be played entirely on your web browser.
Now, before you get put off by it being text-based, you don’t have to enter commands like in old text-based adventures. All you have to do is click on the hyperlinks to progress.
The hyperlinks. Man, the hyperlinks.
Your protagonist second-guesses himself multiple times and it shows in the way the hyperlinks change and expand into different forms of text such as when it describes the men’s section of a clothing store before quickly saying you’re going to the women’s section.
The game does a fantastic job of getting you to think and feel as the protagonist does which is quite the feat for such a simple game.
If you have 30 minutes to spare, check it out here.
LongStory is an episodic visual novel where you play whoever you want to be and decide who you want to romance. For the aroaces out there, you can opt out of the romance altogether and not miss any important story beats.
The story takes place in an LGBTQ+ friendly middle school that lets you relive your teen years in an inclusive fantasy school setting where you don’t have to worry about coming out or homophobia.
It’s all very G-Rated, though, so don’t expect things after the school dance.
Support Queer Indie Game Developers With the Queer Games Bundle 2022
Everybody wants queer money on Pride month, but if there’s anyone who deserves yours, it’s likely to be the indie queer developers behind the 2022 Queer Games Bundle and not the big companies that forget queer people exist on July 1 at 00:00.
The Queer Games Bundle is a collection of over 500 games and zines created by queer artists and developers and published on itch.io. It has everything from fantasy to sci-fi to dating sims to TTRPGs.
Not all of the games center queer characters or stories, though most of them do. The bundle is really about the creators themselves being queer.
The Queer Games Bundle 2022 costs $60 in total, the proceeds of which are split between all creators involved to help nurture the queer arts community.