Happy Pride month everyone! June marks the kick-off of Pride, and whether you’re Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Pan, Ace, NB, Fluid, Queer, Questioning, an Ally, or any point in between- It’s time to celebrate! To kick off this month’s Pride festivities, we’re looking to our representation in the gaming world. These are my five favorite LGBTQ+ games. By the nature of this list, there will be spoilers.
Undertale – Fallen Child (Non-Binary)… and Alphys/Undyne (Bisexual)… and Royal Guard 01 and 02 (Gay)… and Mettaton (Trans)
Undertale is packed with LGBTQ+ representation. The main character of the game is non-binary. While some might argue this is merely a byproduct of the old-school graphics, the game goes out of its way to never refer to the fallen child as either male or female. You could argue that was for the ease of programming, but I don’t think so. Tobyfox makes a point of having the player be the main character of Undertale, and yet he did not decide to let you choose to be male or female at the beginning of the game.
Moving on from the fallen child, we have Dr. Alphys and Undyne. There’s not much debate here. They’re both women, they both use feminine pronouns, and they most definitely get together by the end. I argue that they’re bisexual because both of them have shown some interest in Asgore as well. Royal Guard 01 and 02 are also fairly straightforward. You actually defeat their mini-boss encounter in the pacifist run by getting them to realize their feelings for each other.
More than perhaps anyone, Mettaton requires us to utilize some context clues and look pretty deep into the game. By purchasing a mystery key late in the game, you can return to the ghost houses in Waterfall. You can now enter the house next to Napstablook’s, and you’ll find it most likely belonged to a girl. A series of journals left behind in the house allows us to determine the house’s former owner is now Mettaton. Why is that important? Because Mettaton is always referred to as being male, and he speaks of his robot body allowing him to feel like his true self. You’ll never convince me that Toby didn’t envision this character as FTM Trans.
Life is Strange – Max Caulfield/Chloe Price (Bi/Lesbian)
Life is Strange is no stranger (pun intended) to making my lists. I’ve never been shy about my opinion that it’s one of the best stories of love and friendship ever told. It also holds space as one of the best LGBTQ+ games of all time. So let’s take a good look at Chloe and Max. The girls have been close friends ever since they were children. From their obsession with pirates to the delights of Joyce’s cooking, everything seemed perfect for them. Until Chloe’s dad passed away.
That passing, along with Max moving away lead the two girls to drift apart. And that’s where we pick up the story. Max is an aspiring photographer, while Chloe has earned a reputation as a screw-up. Max saves Chloe’s life when she discovers her ability to rewind time, and the two rekindle a friendship and perhaps something more.
At the end of the game, Max finds herself with a choice. She can go back to the beginning and let Chloe die to prevent everything else that has happened. Or, she can stick with Chloe and accept the consequences of the world they now live in. What would you sacrifice for the one you love? That’s the question you’ll have to answer. On a side note, the prequel ‘Before the Storm’ could also qualify for the best LGBTQ+ games of all-time list.
Mass Effect 3 – So… so many.
Let’s get this out of the way, Mass Effect is far from having clean hands when it comes to their LGBTQ+ representation. Whether it be a trans character dead-naming themselves in Andromeda, or the numerous LGBTQ+ lines cut from Mass Effect 2, Bioware has made some questionable decisions. Now that said, they’ve still created a world filled with characters across the spectrum.
Commander Shepard is of course what you make of them. Whether you choose to play a guy or a girl, gay, straight, bisexual, or asexual… it’s pretty much up to you. And there is a dialogue that accompanies each of those decisions. From the Milky Way to Andromeda, we meet characters of all sorts of sexual preferences. Of course, Mass Effect can take that an extra step with its alien races introducing a cross-species element.
Now I’m going to hi-jack this post to be very selfish. Tali’zorah was removed as a bisexual romance in Mass Effect 2, and this injustice cannot stand. Tali is clearly Shepard-sexual from the word go. Fix it in the remaster Bioware!
The Outer Worlds – Parvati Holcomb (Asexual)
The newest game on this list helps give some representation to a part of the LGBTQ+ community that seldom gets any. One of the first party members you acquire in The Outer Worlds is Parvati, a kind-hearted mechanic in the desolate dystopian town of Edgewater. She’s friendly and generally wants what’s best for people.
Her story takes a turn when we learn that she’s romantically interested in the captain of the Groundbreaker, Junlei Tennyson. In The Outer Worlds, same-sex relationships are common enough that it’s unremarkable for her to be interested in Junlei. However, Parvati’s struggle comes from her being asexual. Asexuality is often not well understood, even among the LGBTQ+ community.
The Outer Worlds takes a pretty real and genuine approach to asexuality. It explores the fears of not being ‘enough’ for your partner, as well as the anxiety of having your relationship judged as invalid because you’re not sexually interested. Much like our society, The Outer Worlds is set in a universe that uses sexuality to sell things. When you exist outside that basic drive, you exist outside the world’s plans. And that can be a lonely place to be. Fortunately, The Outer Worlds shows us that love absolutely exists beyond sex and earns its space on my favorite LGBTQ+ games list.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – Juhani (Lesbian)
KOTOR is a great game even before you approach it from an LGBTQ+ angle. It’s got memorable characters, a fun albeit old combat system, and a good story. However, it also has the often unknown designation of having the first lesbian character in the Star Wars universe. Although she is more often remembered as “oh yea! The catgirl on Dantooine! I remember her now.”, Juhani still marks an important step in Star Wars history.
Juhani is a Cathari that has fallen to the dark side when you meet her. If you have good enough stats and pick the right dialogue options, however, you can return her to the light and she’ll join your party. When the game first released, she was able to be romanced by both male and female players. However, Bioware later confirmed this was a bug. Some conspiracy theorists out there argue that she was released as bisexual because it was the only way to get it cleared. I’m not sure I’m willing to buy that, but it wouldn’t shock me.
I know that a lot of great LGBTQ+ games are missing on here. Dragon Age, The Last Of Us, and Borderlands all spring to mind. However, this is a list of my favorites and these were the games that I enjoyed the most. Remember that representation is important, and Happy Pride Month!