Besides the ‘One shot, one kill’ attitude in video-games, there seems to be much more depth to it. Usually associated with violence and unrealistic scenarios, there have been multiple cases when video games have paved way to help ponder upon our life choices. From creating characters that depict the value of relationships to strongly representing the LGBTQIA+ in the gaming world, video games deserve more credit.
Here are 7 video games that allows a player to be in the shoes of a LGBTQIA+ character.
This is as real as it can get. The game is cynical and has a revengeful plot that stops at nothing. A gamer who plays this game is the protagonist, Ellie whose path is full of unsettling murders for which there is zero remorse. This PlayStation 4 is a sequel to the 2013’s wild and popularly played The Last of Us, that was set in a world where real life Cordyceps Fungi – a distorted parasite that previously inhabited insects and made them behave erratically has now passed on to humans. Amidst the violent zombies that are carnivores, killing human beings on a gory spree, the protagonist, a teenager explores her sexual orientation in a world that is close to destruction. The game follows a small plot of a budding queer romance between Ellie and her friend, Riley who confide in each other’s feelings and share an on-screen kiss until the contagious zombies ravage the society.
2. Gone Home
Gone Home is recognised as an interactive exploration simulator. What seems like a normal house turns into a maze full of perplexing clues left behind in the house. The gamer plays in the perspective of Katie Greenbriar, who returns from abroad to find her family missing and a cryptic note from her sister, Samantha. Every clue the gamer finds, they are greeted by Samantha’s voice to unfold an important segment to the story. Why is this game important to the LGBTQ community? Unlike ‘The Last of Us’, it’s not the protagonist but her sister Samantha that is seen as queer and her queer youth experience is effectively portrayed. As Katie gets closer to the truth, we are aware of Samantha’s love for the same sex and the adversities that follow when the family finds out. Consequently resulting in her elopement. Though this is a second-hand piece in the video game, it still manages to capture the real aspect of a gay sibling.
Life is Strange (2015) focuses on a 18-year-old, Max Caulfield, who has the power to reverse time and is now responsible for stopping an upcoming, dangerous storm that is about to blow up the town. Every step in the game is full of excitement and adventure at heart but the striking story line is the beautiful relationship between the protagonist and Chloe Price. It felt special and heartwarming to watch two women undeniably experience the facets of a queer-relationship.
According to GScene, the only representation one would see of the LGBTQ+ community in the initial days of gaming were characters in cameo roles or worse, negative roles that ruin the central theme of the video game. The LGBTQ+ characters were primarily associated with these traits without any significant progress in character. However, times have certainly changed since The Sims franchise has become a safe haven for the queer community.
The players who step into the Sims world are free to choose their identity and simultaneously their partners regardless of the gender orientation. The Sims goes beyond building a career for yourself or developing meaningful friendships, it also helps players understand the LGBTQ+ community and reflect on it. If you are in the sims world, you have the freedom to be yourself.
5. Mass Effect Andromeda
Mass Effect: Andromeda featured a gay romance back in 2017. Though few called it foul and forced in the narrative, the game has a Meta-critic rating of 72% depicting its popularity and the relevance of this game. Players have acclaimed the game to predominantly focus on a world exploration that includes an outer-space shooting between the characters and aliens. What’s more liberating is the ability to woo and sleep with other characters during the game and the game does not preach to its characters to follow a straight means of achieving a relationship, instead Mass Effect 3 and Andromeda have become a space to pursue same sex-relationships.
6. Destiny by Bungie
An undeniable fact about video games is it allows players to be who they envision. At times, beyond just saving the lives of people or killing enemies for survival, it becomes a journey of self-discovery. And that is exclusively what we see in Destiny developed by Bungie. This developer has unconditionally devoted time and effort in creating a gaming experience in the interests of the LGBTQIA+. One of the major characters of this franchise is Oryx, the nominal character or The Taken King, who happens to be a transgender male character in the game. Having the power to modify reality at his own will, the King of Darkness was assigned female at birth and transitioned to male during a ritual that granted him these divine powers.
Though games are highly inclusive and progressive in addressing LGBTQ+ community and their struggles today, the developers tend to rely on queer stereotypes that undermines the representation itself. Jess Zammit of Queerly Represent Me, in a conversation with Kotaku mentioned:
“In order to do LGBTQIA+ representation well, the best way to do it is to have queer voices in the room informing the characters that you’re creating.”
7. Dragon Age: Inquisition
And this brings us to the final video game that received a Special Recognition award from LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD for inclusion of queer characters in the gaming world. Dragon Age: Inquisition 2014 is a game that revolves around the character who must settle a civil unrest in the continent of Thedas and win against all odds to seal a mysterious tear in the sky which is a gateway for demons. Despite this deadly fight against demons, the game includes a variety of LGBTQ characters. It featured a trans man , Krem who was initially a cisgender. Besides this, players are given the liberty to play as straight, gay or bisexual, literally and metaphorically giving the player control over his won game.
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