I’ve loved video games ever since I was in elementary school, offering suggestions to my older brother about how to combine items as we worked together to beat King’s Quest V. At the time, I didn’t realize that video games were primarily aimed at telling cishet white male stories for cishet white men because honestly…everything I liked was designed that way (the joys and struggles of being a female Tolkien fan). Sometimes I was lucky enough to play a game with a female protagonist like King’s Quest VII or Final Fantasy XIII, but those were rare. Even rarer? Queer characters.
That’s not to say that video game fandoms weren’t queer. On the contrary! I was reading Cloud/Sephiroth fanfic at a very young age, and don’t get me started on how obsessed Seifer is with Squall (oh wait, I did that in my recent playthrough). But these queer relationships weren’t affirmed in canon – they were something that you had to find in private, in the secret, shameful parts of the Internet.
Today, queer people can choose to see themselves represented in games like The Sims (which let you move in with someone of the same sex and adopt a child together in 2000), Dragon Age, and Assassin’s Creed. In fact, if you are playing Cassandra from Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey as a straight woman, I must ask you to explain yourself. I love romancing literally everyone in the Dragon Age series and Inquisition casually includes a trans NPC. If you’re anything like me, your queer corner of the Internet might lead you to believe that we are in a rainbow era of overwhelming queerness in our video games, because everyone you see chooses to make these games hella queer. Unfortunately, this is not mainstream, since many of these games are only as queer as you make them.
Dragon Age attempts to solve this problem by forcing some characters to be unambiguously queer. Krem is always going to tell you how he joined the Chargers after the prejudiced world of Tevinter refused to let him live as a man. Dorian will never romance you if you’re a woman, and his homosexuality is a key piece of his character arc. I know some people find this frustrating, but I admire it. When you can romance everyone, it allows for people to play through a game with nary a queer character in sight.
What I find myself really craving, though, are gloriously queer games that are made to blast rainbows in your face. We had Dream Daddies, of course, a dating sim that presents you, a dad with a teenager, with a neighborhood full of dads to date. And I’ve got my eye on Boyfriend Dungeon, a phenomenally ridiculous dating sim about dating your weapons, who are also queer people. Listen, I don’t really understand it yet, but I’m into it. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention Hades, though I have to say that after 20+ hours of playtime, it is far less queer than I was promised (I want to ship Zagreus / Thanatos, but he rarely shows up!).
It is undeniably a better time to play video games as a queer person than ever before, but I want more! The queerest games out there are dating sims. That’s fun, but where are queer adventurers? Where is my queer Final Fantasy relationship? (FF7: Remake offered some amazingly flirty Tifa/Aeris interactions, but they belong in the world of queerbaiting rather than actual queer content.) I would love to see a classic RPG with queer love as an integral part of the story.
Perhaps something like that already exists. I’d love to have missed something spectacular! Is there a super queer, super amazing video game that can eat up my free time?
If you know of one, please leave a comment and let me know!