10 Best Video Games For Fantastic LGBTQ+ Representation

10 Best Video Games For Fantastic LGBTQ+ Representation

Amber Stefanson | Jun 6, 2023

Queer representation in video games has come a long way. For years, we were lucky if a game would introduce a good queer side character, but we’d rarely ever get a queer protagonist. And even then, many queer-positive RPGs introduce a blank-slate player character and romantic interests who are playersexual, meaning they have no defined sexuality except that they will reciprocate interest from the player character.

While some appreciate the freedom to express themselves within the story, playersexual writing does not offer great representation.

True representation requires good, nuanced character writing that doesn’t boil characters down to their gender or sexuality, and those characters should play a major part in the story. Furthermore, games need to include a wider breadth of identities than just gay and bi characters.

These are some games that check all the boxes.

10. Gone Home (2013)

Sam and Lonnie
(Credit: The Fullbright Company)

Gone Home is a first-person mystery game thinly cloaked in the aesthetic of a horror movie. You play as Katie, a college student visiting the home her family moved into while she was away. The house is unfamiliar, dark, and unwelcoming — her family is missing, and Katie has no idea where they went. You navigate her through the house, searching for clues to her family’s disappearance.

Katie explores Sam’s room

It quickly becomes evident that Katie’s sister, Sam has run away with her girlfriend, Lonnie. Sam’s room is peppered with artifacts of 90s punk and lesbian culture, polaroids of Lonnie, and the occasional hand-written love letter.

Sam has pinned up a poster advertising a show from a couple Riot grrrl bands

Some criticize Gone Home for relying too heavily on tropes of queer coming-of-age stories, while others argue that its emphasis on nonlinear exploration elevates its queerness in a unique way. Either way, I think you’ll love its unique take on domestic horror.

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9. Celeste (2018)

Madeleine climbing Mount Celeste
(Credit: Maddy Makes Games)

Celeste is one of the most challenging platformers out there, and it’s also one of the most famous examples of trans representation in video games. Protagonist Madeleine is a trans woman set on climbing to the peak of Mount Celeste.

Along the way, she meets many people who try to dissuade her from continuing her dangerous ascent — worst of all, her antagonistic, purple-haired alter ego, who is simply referred to as “A Part of” Madeleine (or “Badeleine” by fans of the Celeste).

Madeleine is confronted by Badeleine, a Part of Herself

Badeleine embodies Madeleine’s anxiety, depression, self doubt, and anger. She constantly tries to convince Madeleine that she’s not up to the task. Madeleine is always trying to outrun Badeleine or leave her behind — leading to the confrontation in the gif above.

Although Madeleine was never directly identified as trans within the text of the base game, her story is undeniably trans. The creator of Celeste, Maddy Thorson, posted a coming out blog publicly confirming Madeleine is canonically trans and coming out as trans herself. Thorson recognized that the process of authoring Madeleine was inseparably wound up with her own journey of self-discovery, since she wrote Celeste at a time when she was questioning her gender identity.

Madeleine reaches the peak of Mount Celeste

Thorson admits she was conflicted between giving the trans community solid representation in video games and effectively outing Madeleine — as well as outing herself to the public before she was ready. Ultimately, she decided to confirm Madeleine’s identity within the game by patching in a new chapter. If you keep an eye out, you can spot the trans flag in Madeleine’s room in the final chapter, “Farewell”.

Trans and pride flags found in the “Farewell” chapter

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8. Wandersong (2018)

Ash and Kiwi the Bard
(Credit: Humble Bundle, Dumb and Fat Games)

Wandersong is a wholesome spin on the classic RPG. You play as Kiwi the Bard, a nonbinary smol bean who would rather sing than fight and would rather follow every side quest than stick to the main mission. If you’re the kind of person who likes to talk to every NPC and — quite literally — stop and smell the flowers, this is the game for you.

Gameplay mostly consists of puzzles and platforms, with some nonviolent combat peppered in. Boss battles are interesting, since Kiwi won’t resort to violence or even carry a weapon. All conflict is resolved by singing the right pitches or by talking things out.

Gameplay consists of musical puzzles and nonviolent combat

Although gender and sexuality aren’t explicitly discussed in-game, Wandersong takes place in a world filled with queer characters. Kiwi the Bard is nonbinary, and goes by any pronouns. One of the recurring side characters Kiwi helps is also nonbinary: Ash (they/them), the haunted accordionist who Kiwi encourages to join a band of local musicians. Kiwi also helps out a gay troll couple who live in an ice cave.

One of the trolls has been frozen by a curse

According to the gamemakers, many other side characters were written to be queer, although it isn’t evident due to their minor roles in the story.

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7. Outer Worlds (2019)

Junlei and Parvati
(Credit: Private Division, Take-Two Interactive)

A spiritual successor to Fallout and Firefly, Outer Worlds is one of the latest AAA open-world sci-fi exploration RPGs. You play as the captain of a ship in exploration of a space colony. One of the first crew members you recruit is Parvati, a mechanic. Once you become close, Parvati reveals to you that she’s asexual.

She expresses her worry about showing interest in her crush, Junlei, for fear that she’ll be rejected for not wanting to be physical.

Parvati expresses her feelings towards physical intimacy

The player character may also be asexual, if you choose. One of the dialogue options in this conversation with Parvati is to say you feel the same way about physical intimacy. Since the player character is a complete blank slate at the beginning of the game, you get to define their personality and sexual orientation based on dialogue options.

You can choose to identify as ace [2] when Parvati expresses her concerns

It’s an authentic portrayal that dispels harmful assumptions that ace people aren’t interested in pursuing romantic relationships. This is no doubt thanks to the efforts of writer Kate Dollarhyde, who identifies as biromantic asexual. She drew a lot from her own experience when she wrote Parvati. Given how rare ace representation is in video games, it’s refreshing to see it done so well.

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6. Life is Strange: True Colors (2021)

Alex Chen
(Credit: Square ENIX)

Life is Strange: True Colors follows Alex Chen, a bisexual woman with the supernatural ability to tell what people are thinking and feeling. As she works to discover the truth behind the mysterious disappearance of her brother, she develops close friendships with locals Steph and Ryan, either of whom she can later choose to date.

She expresses her worry about showing interest in her crush, Junlei, for fear that she’ll be rejected for not wanting to be physical.

Steph and Ryan

Unlike many RPGs that enable you to define your sexuality based on who you choose to flirt with, Life is Strange: True Colors makes it clear that Alex is bisexual regardless of who she chooses to date.

If you love True Colors, it’s also worth checking out some of the older titles in this series, which feature even more queer protagonists and fun supernatural abilities.

A visual manifestation of Alex’s powers of supernatural empathy

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5. VA-11 Hall-A (2016)

Jill the Bartender
(Credit: Ysbryd Games)

VA-11 Ha11-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action (or simply Valhalla) is a cyberpunk bartender game, with a premise similar to Coffee Talk. You play as Jill, a bisexual bartender. Progress in the game by mixing the right drinks for the right people, while you learn about the world by making conversation with your patrons.

You mix drinks based on customer profiles

Valhalla offers a great, diverse range of queer characters from different walks of life — some of whom Jill can choose to date. For instance, she has a huge crush on her boss Dana, the pansexual proprietor of the bar VA-11 Hall-A, and a former pro wrestler.

Jill’s boss Dana is one of several romantic interests

Many conversations Jill has with her patrons are centered around relationships, and everyone is very open about their sexuality, often discussing their crushes and past relationships.

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4. Dream Daddy (2017)

All the eligible dads you can date
 (Credit: Game Grumps)

Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator is exactly what it sounds like. You play as a dad who moves into a new suburb with his teenage daughter, Amanda. Quickly, you discover that the whole block is filled with hot dads who are ready to date. You can strike up a romance with any of them.

Not only is this game unabashedly queer, but it’s inclusive of the MLM spectrum. When you create your “Dadsona”, you get to choose whether he’s cis, trans, gay, or bi. You can indicate your Dadsona’s identity by deciding whether your dad wears a binder and whether your late spouse is Amanda’s mom or dad.

Dadsona reminisces with Amanda about her late parent

When it comes to the dads you can date, the lines are blurred between gay and bi, since there are no explicit labels in the game. Everything is left very ambiguous. Characters might discuss their past relationships, or they might choose to leave those details out. There’s a trans dad you can date, but his gender never comes up apart from an offhand comment about all of his historical attire.

Fan favorite Damien mentions wearing period-appropriate binders

Dream Daddy’s refusal to use any labels may seem counterproductive, but it can be argued that it’s uplifting to see truly inclusive stories where queer love can transcend labels. It’s a way of centralizing queer narratives without spelling out the queer experience to make it more recognizable for cis and straight audiences.

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3. We Are OFK (2021)

The OFK Crew: Carter, Itsumi, Jey, and Luca
 (Credit: Team OFK)

Described by its developers as an interactive TV show and biopic, We Are OFK (also known as Pop. Love. Panic! The OFK Story) is a narrative-heavy game about an indie pop band called OFK trying to make rent in LA. It’s an extremely aesthetic and heartfelt game in which the band members argue about lyrics and navigate their love lives one sloppy text message at a time.

Interact with the story by choosing which text message to send

Every member of the band is explicitly queer. Both protagonist and keyboardist Itsumi and producer Jey are sapphic, while singer Luca is bi. Carter, the visual effects artist, is nonbinary. It’s honestly the perfect representation of a queer friend group.

And the aesthetics are off the charts!

Dream Daddy’s refusal to use any labels may seem counterproductive, but it can be argued that it’s uplifting to see truly inclusive stories where queer love can transcend labels. It’s a way of centralizing queer narratives without spelling out the queer experience to make it more recognizable for cis and straight audiences.

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2. If Found… (2020)

From left to right: Jack, Colum, Mam, Kasio, Shans, and Maggy
(Credit: Annapurna Interactive)

If Found… is a visual novel that takes place within the pages of the journal of the main character, Kasio. She destroys her journal, reliving important moments in her life that lead up to when she decides to destroy it. You progress in the game by erasing sections from her journal. Each erasure sparks the recollection of a new piece of her story.

Kasio erases herself from her journal

You learn that Kasio has recently graduated college and returned to her family’s home in a small rural hometown in 90s Ireland. She has transitioned in the time she’s been away, and her family is shocked and unsupportive when she arrives.

When they refuse to see her as a woman, she runs away, and her living situation becomes tenuous. First, she crashes with her friends Jack and Colum, a gay couple squatting in an abandoned house with their bandmate Shans, who is questioning his gender identity.

Kasio reflects on her time living with Colum

When that falls through, she goes to stay with Maggy, a closeted lesbian. It’s a heartbreaking narrative about how queer people find each other in unaccepting places that would rather see their identities erased.

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1. Night in the Woods (2017)

Angus, Gregg, and Mae
(Credit: Finji)

Night in the Woods is a heartfelt mystery game that follows Mae, a pansexual college dropout. She returns home from college to find that her hometown has changed — everyone she grew up with has changed, old friends have outgrown her antics, and the town is oddly desolate now that the mine that once employed many of its inhabitants has shut down.

It’s a liminal, deeply emotional story about moving on that tackles themes of mental illness, abuse, and poverty in the Rust Belt of America with a casual poignancy.

Mae loves having philosophical conversations in scenic places

Taking place in a small town, the few queer people in town have found each other. Mae is openly pansexual, which she describes saying, “I don’t care if they are a boy or a girl! As long as they are like ARRG!” Her best friends Gregg and Angus are highschool sweethearts.

Bea, Mae, and Jackie

Other queer characters include Jackie, a trans goat who throws big parties; Bombshell, a sapphic bear who Mae can flirt with at one of Jackie’s parties; and Michelle Czajkowski, a non-binary cat who will recite Mae a poem if she spends time with their mutual friend, Bea.

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Happy Pride Month!

I hope you enjoyed this list and find some time this month to celebrate queer love. Please stay tuned for more gaming content, or check out some of our existing highlights below.

Be gay, do crimes

Like what we do? Stay tuned for more.

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