Let’s Go, Gaymers: Our Top 5 Inclusive Games
Anyone that loves games knows that representation is an uphill battle, even as roughly 10% of gamers identify as queer. However, as more studios bring queer narratives to the mainstream, many LGBT games attain critical acclaim and commercial success.
But if you only have a few free hours a week or can only pick one game, what would it be? Read on to find out about our top five picks for games with LGBTQ representation!
All Your Choices Matter | Life Is Strange: Before The Storm
If you can relate to being an angry kid contending with the unfairness of life and the confusion of uncovering your (bi)sexuality, then you’ll enjoy Life is Strange: Before The Storm. Despite being a follow-up and prequel to another game, it can be played by itself or after finishing the original.
This modern choose-your-own-adventure game follows back-talking teen Chloe Price, who is dealing with the loss of her father and her best friend. She sneaks out to sketchy rock concerts, smokes cigarettes in her bedroom, and flips off figures of authority – and we, the player, have a front-row seat to all her antics.
Without giving away too much, our main character Chloe meets a mysterious girl called Rachel, who is all eyeliner and fire that burns too bright, too fast. Together, the two of them navigate sex, relationships, and bamboozling side characters to the best of their abilities. Players can control most of Chloe’s decisions, shaping the story as a dark, looming mystery unfolds.
- LGBTQ content and WLW goodness
- Story-focused and dialogue-heavy
- Made us so, so sad
The Gods Are Bi | Hades
Are you looking for something with fast-paced gameplay, a sick soundtrack, and varied romance options with LGBT themes? You’re in luck because Supergiant’s Hades has everything you need.
Players take control of Zagreus, son of Hades and rebellious prince of the Underworld. Instead of bending to his father’s wishes, our protagonist decides to rid himself from the House of Hades, jumpstarting his long journey through the Underworld. He is met with mythical beasts and powerful ex-lovers/adversaries seeking to thwart his escape, and sometimes they actually succeed (how ominous).
However, combat isn’t the only thing this video game does well; it also excels at making each character feel real and believable. At some point, players will find that they’re given the reins to Zagreus’ relationship choices – allowing you to choose between a male or female video game character as your partner. Like Zagreus, both video game characters are fully fleshed-out, with distinct personalities and motivations.
Hades is available on Nintendo Switch, macOS, and Windows.
- Fast-paced gameplay
- Queer characters
- Excellent soundtrack
- Suitable for casual gaming and short sessions
Smartphone Sleuthing | A Normal Lost Phone
AAA games throughout history have been weird about LGBTQ representation, and that’s why our next entry is a hidden gem born during a game jam in 2017. Given that game jams require entries to be built from scratch in under 72 hours, A Normal Lost Phone becomes twice as impressive – but it also shines even without that bit of context.
As a player, you’re tasked with assuming the role of a voyeuristic cyber sleuth, breaking into this complete stranger’s phone and getting to know them. You discover Sam, a person that seems to have lost touch with some friends because of a “secret.” Over time, you’re made privy to what that is.
Unlike most video games, there are no actual character interactions and all storytelling is done contextually through text messages, passwords, and saved emails. Through this textual exploration of Sam’s inner world, you are transported into the character’s struggle with their gender identity and the roadblocks queer characters face as they come into themselves.
A Normal Lost Phone is accessible to most gamers, with ports on mobile, Nintendo Switch, macOS, and Windows.
- Thoughtful and well-written LGBTQ content
- Simple puzzles and great payoff
- Spoiler: explores the experience of being a trans woman
Walking Simulator | Gone Home
Gone Home probably won’t have a spot in the “greatest video games of all time”, but it relays a story previously untold throughout mainstream gaming history: a queer character navigating their relationship with themselves, their family, and the world.
Famously called a “walking simulator”, you spend the entire game controlling Katie Greenbriar, who is coming home to a house she’s never lived in. Until now, Katie’s spent her time in Europe, completely missing her family’s move.
Upon arriving, she finds a foreboding note taped to the door. Katie’s sister is gone, and she doesn’t want to be found. The real game starts, and you enter this vast, empty house that echoes classic horror tropes.
But Gone Home is not a horror game.
Instead, it’s a character study set to a spooky backdrop, which quickly fades away after the first few light flickers. The horror is replaced with a sense of emptiness, which is only filled by distant voiceovers and the player’s own thoughts. Unlike most video games, this LGBTQ love letter is explored at the player’s own pace – unveiling an intimate, introspective narrative.
- LGBTQ content is well-written and realistic
- Player-determined pace
- A little creepy, but not in the ways you’d expect
Battle Royale | Apex Legends
When discussing competitive video games starts, inclusivity and LGBTQ representation aren’t the first things that come to mind. However, Respawn’s battle royale Apex Legends writes characters as diverse as humankind itself.
With its colorful cast of multi-language, multicultural characters, Apex Legends is a masterclass in representation across gender identities, sexualities, and ethnicities. Each character has a rich backstory that distinguishes them from your run-of-the-mill looter shooter video games, with many of them wearing their LGBTQ sexualities and gender identities as badges of honor.
Some folks may think representation doesn’t matter in games that don’t focus heavily on the story. However, the reality is that the appearance of characters like the nonbinary Bloodhound and bisexual Loba creates a narrative of power in a space formerly dominated by exclusionary tactics and slurs.
- Low-pressure ranked mode
Video games are a unique medium for telling stories, and many developers have heeded the call for more LGBTQ representation in the games we play. From narrative-based games like Life is Strange and Gone Home to action-packed titles like Apex Legends and Hades, LGBTQ voices have finally grabbed a seat at the development table.
More than any other medium, games are perpetuated by an eternal feedback loop between players and developers, and it’s about time that queer folks get the same authentic representation alongside their heterosexual relationships and stories.