LGBTQ+ rep in video games


I really liked Danielle’s reading of TLOU2 trailer where she embraced the subtle clues to Ellie’s appearance to explain that actually events like Left Behind have had on her over time. As a Cis guy I was pretty ignorant of it all, but I really appreciated her reading and how it was all pieced together. It’s just part of her personality and not called out in a “look at me” way like the rotten Deadnaming that was used in ME:A.


The worst part is when its inconsistent. Like I’ve seen so many people go on about how Anders from DA:2 was a great bisexual character, when if you romanced him as female Hawke, he never once references his interest in men in contrast to male Hawke where he expresses his interest in both. Like talk about a big fat middle finger.


I really like the phraseology of “playersexual” - bisexuality in games is often seen still through a heterosexual gaze. A good deliniation.


I guess I appreciate the effort on bioware’s part for better representation, but a lot of it still frustrates me. Like, I shouldn’t be making assumptions about the writing staff of these games, but when I see the way that ME: Andromeda tries to do trans representation I honestly wonder if the person writing the character even knows any trans people. Like, did it really take until after the game’s release for somebody to say “Hey, this kind of sucks?”

Beyond that, despite having better LGBTQ+ representation than most mainstream games, Bioware still seems incapable of having a vision of the future thats more progressive then ours with regards to gender and sexuality. They’re fine seeing a future where there are aliens with psychic powers, but you’d better believe there are only two genders.
Read-Only Memories, on the other hand, is great in regards to how it envisions a future with a lot of prominent LGBTQ+ characters.


Also wanna throw out Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor for its excellent handling of gender dysphoria on top of an already crushing critique of life under capitalism


Yep, I totally get why Life is Strange is certainly not for everyone and leans on the overused trope.

Hell, it’s literally not just using it once as the framing for the entire game’s progression but using it twice because the motivation for the on-screen relationship/detective team-up is related to a previous instance of the same trope (arguably, I don’t think the text ever says Rachel Amber was bi or if that’s Chloe’s projection) as it is exposed through the series.

It’s entirely down to the strength of the characters and performances that I got wrapped up in it. Not only is there as escape valve at the end (yet to meet another queer girl who didn’t ride off into the sunset at the end in the first playthrough and then loaded back and made the “right” decision to see the proper ending that the story clearly point to as the thematic conclusion) but also the entire trip has been about loss, love, and even where they intersect (eg alt reality Chloe’s request). It’s trope-heavy but damn, it got to me. See also Left Behind, same trope, same “but damn it, that was good so I don’t care” response from me.

To just briefly go back to Bioware: I think that’s why I’m far less kind to the mistakes there - I like many of the games (I grew up on Infinity engine RPGs) and even some of the characters but as a whole, I’m far less moved and so it’s far easier to poke holes in the issues because it’s not a game I desperately love on that level. Love me some Mass Effect (at least 1 & 2) or Dragon Age (kinda more Origins, somewhat DA2) but it’s kinda the wider RPG fun that I’m drawn to there, the worlds and characters I’d describe as “fun”. It feels like I’m not bonding in the same way and so I can’t look past the issues as easily.


VA-11 Hall-A’s my favorite game of all time for many reasons, but this is certainly one of them. Fantastic handling of sexuality.


One thing I’ve had to coach myself on over the years is that even if the representation isn’t perfect, it’s completely and totally fine for you to love the thing anyways, as long as you’re honest with yourself.


Really good example. I feel like it is particularly true for the romanceable characters in DA2 that they were just made bi just because it was convenient. Like if you make a character bi at least let the player find out about this - in DA:O you could actually find out about the bi love interests being bi, but in DA2 it really depends - iirc Isabela is the only one who is unambivalently bi and the player will find out about this regardless of Hawke’s gender, but the fact that they made Anders’s bisexuality “gender-locked” is some top tier bullshit.

Same goes for Josephine Montilyet in DA:I; she is bi but the player doesn’t find out about this even if you romance her. Six months after DA:I’s release there were still people finding out you could romance her with a female Inquisitor. Like, damn, Josephine is the love of my life but Bioware hasn’t earned it to strut around priding themselves with how they handled her bisexuality.


Isn’t VA-11 Hall-A that game made by a bunch of 4 channers? I seem to recall it having some issues with Sexualization of underage characters but I might be thinking of something else and trying to google anything like that is a minefield


Christine Love’s games have done wonders for helping me discover myself. Digital: A Love Story, despite being vague about genders and sexuality, is pretty clearly about a girl/girl relationship. I felt so much kinship with the relationship in that game, I really should’ve figured out I was a girl who likes girls sooner. Then there’s her recent Ladykiller in a Bind (Which I still haven’t finished, admittedly) that is probably the most realistic representation of sex in a video game that I’ve ever seen, LGBT or otherwise.


I don’t know anything about the devs but I watched a friend stream it and they had to stop because a character who is a sex-bot built to look like a 12 year old skeeved them out too much.


That said, nothing made me more eye rolly than when for some reason Kaidan was suddenly interested in dudes when Mass Effect 3 rolls around. Like… yeah okay. Thanks guys.


It has one character who is a robot designed to be an ‘loli sexbot’, but does a great job deconstructing it as you learn more about her character.


Yeah, I had a lot of issues with VA11 HALL-A
There’s a big undercurrent of “anti-SJW” sentiment running through it that I felt pretty uncomfortable with, and a lot of really predatory behavior by some of the male characters is played off as trivial in the context of the game

I thought the idea behind it (playing as a character on the fringes of a larger story) was interesting, but games like Diaries of a Spaceport janitor execute it better


Waypoint had an article about this subject some ways back.


I think both Kaidan and Ashley were designed to be bi romances but this idea got pulled and then suddenly ME3 had Kaidan available for dudesheps? That was weird.


It’s a brilliant article


Yeah, the bisexuality thing has kinda confounded me for a while. I got really into the Bioware games right around the same time I started to understand my sexuality, and being able to be gay in DA2 helped me a lot as a confused 15 year old. Still though, I really don’t love how everyone just defaulted to being bi, rather than it being a defined character trait. The balance between inclusivity/storytelling is tough.


Yeah, it’s a phrase I only use for characters that essentially have no sexuality until the player fills it in for them.

You could play games with characters like that as a cishet character and nothing would indicate they were anything other than straight.

I realize it’s sort of the least effort needed on the part of the dev and I think that’s why it bothers me so much. It’s like that’s a shortcut to ticking off the checkbox for “can I play as gay” without putting anything behind it.