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  • Writer's pictureDes Ducharme

Queer Characters and Narratives in Role-Playing Style Games

As Pride month comes to an end, it is important to remember that Pride and queer inclusivity should always be a focus and not just be limited to one month out of the year. To highlight an area where this can continue to be a focus and a space to access regardless of the time of year, we wanted to focus attention on geek culture and gaming, particularly how the gaming industry is evolving to be more inclusive of LGBTQIA+ identities. 


We understand the importance of self-care activities, such as playing games, as a resource for emotional regulation and stress management. However, we also acknowledge that these activities can go beyond self-care, be an important part of identity development, and increase someone's feeling of being seen and represented in the media they consume. 



Role-Playing Games & LGBTQIA+ Identity

One specific game genre that is especially important for inclusivity, representation, and identity development or exploration is role-playing games. And, as one of the larger genres of games, they can easily be found across different gaming media. 


Role-playing games, whether through pencil and paper (e.g., Dungeons & Dragons) or video games, allow individuals to explore aspects of themselves in safe and non-externally demanding environments. This can be incredibly important for LGBTQIA+ gamers and geeks, and even more so when exploring identity and expression of self. 



Issues with Representation

In previous decades, many games featured, and still feature, a masc-presenting or male-identified main protagonist as the avatar for the player. Examples include Geralt in The Witcher IPs, any main protagonist from the Assassin’s Creed IPs or the Red Dead IPs, Kratos or Atreus in the God of War IPs, Jin Sakai in Ghost of Tsushima, Joel in The Last of Us, Link in The Legend of Zelda IPs and many more. 


For some folks, this is not a deterrent to enjoying the game. However, others may not feel connected to the main protagonist they play as and seek alternatives. Some of these alternatives may include Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, Max Caulfield in Life is Strange, Aloy in Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden West, Stella in Spiritfarer, and many more. 


However, this is still not fully inclusive, as a majority of these protagonists are white or white-presenting and assumed by the public to be hetero-presenting unless otherwise stated as part of the overall narrative (e.g. - Aloy in Horizon is canonically queer, and Max Caulfield is canonically bisexual.)



The Evolution of Representation

The gaming industry is evolving with our expectations as a community, and there are more options now that include LGBTQIA+ representation as canon to the narrative or allow you, as the player, to have the agency to create and play a character that represents the identity you want them to. 


For video games that have a main protagonist who is canonically queer or can be created and acted as such by the player, we can look at options such as:


  • Baldur’s Gate III

  • Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden West

  • Life is Strange

  • Night in the Woods

  • Stardew Valley

  • Tell Me Why

  • Last of Us II

  • The Sims

  • Monster Prom and sequels

  • Divinity Original Sin 2

  • Celeste

  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Fire Emblem: Engage

  • Cyberpunk: 2077

  • Hades and Hades II

  • Rune Factory 5

  • Fallout

  • And more!


For video games that are fundamentally centered around being queer, we can look at options such as:


  • Celeste

  • Night in the Woods

  • A Lost Phone

  • Gone Home

  • Heaven Will Be Mine

  • Do I Pass?

  • Tell Me Why

  • Life is Strange

  • Stray Gods

  • Coffee Talk and Coffee Talk Episode 2

  • Bad End Theater

  • Fallen Hero: Rebirth and Fallen Hero: Retribution

  • And more!


And, to round out our options, table-top role-playing games provide the deepest level of customization and expression when creating the player character, or the narrative and characters of the game are centered around queerness. These games include: 


  • Dungeons & Dragons

  • Pathfinder

  • Starfinder

  • Thirsty Sword Lesbians

  • Glitter Hearts

  • QUEERZ! TTRPG

  • Yazeba’s Bed and Breakfast

  • Monsterhearts

  • Sleepaway

  • Lichcraft

  • Masks: The Next Generation

  • Sapphic Space Pirates

  • Lavender Marriage

  • And more!


While these lists are not exhaustive, they represent the games that do exist as inclusive and representative of queer identities. The gaming industry is constantly evolving and creating new stories, and the games listed and others can easily be used as ways to feel represented and explore the expression of self, including gender identity and romantic desires. 


Happy gaming! And happy PRIDE!

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