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LGBTQIA+ Characters In Video Games: A Spotlight

We’ve seen developments over the years in more characters within video games identifying as LGBTQ+, and whilst there is still more work to do, we wanted to celebrate some of our favourite kickass characters from games that are in the LGBTQ+ community.

Life Is Strange – Alex & Steph

screenshots of steph gingrich from True Colours

Where would we be without this wonderful duo from Life Is Strange: True Colours? Alex and Steph have been fan favourites since True Colours first came out in September 2021. Alex, the main protagonist of the game, is a bisexual character who begins the game reuniting with her brother Gabe in Haven Springs, Colorado. Her kindness and tenacity is a huge asset to the character, and is why so many players fell in love with her! Steph is a lesbian who, depending on the player’s choices, can romance Alex. We talk a lot about Steph’s character in an upcoming podcast episode with the voice actor Katy Bentz.

 

The Last Of Us – Ellie, Riley, Lev

a mashup of Ellie, Riley, Dina and Lev from The Last of Us

The Last of Us has a number of LGBTQ+ characters within the series, with Ellie, one of the main protagonists initially hiding her sexuality from Joel. Her lesbian identity is unveiled in the Left Behind DLC after Ellie and Riley share a kiss within the mall. Bill, a gay character is also within the first The Last of Us game. In The Last of Us Part II, Dina’s character is introduced as bisexual and as a love interest for Ellie. We also see within the sequel an introduction to the first trans character within TLOU universe; Lev.

 

The Outer Worlds

Photo from The Verge

Parvati is an asexual character from The Outer Worlds, and is a fan-favourite. Gayming Mag have a great article looking into their character more here.

 

Tell Me Why

Dontnod’s Tell Me Why moved so many players with their powerful story telling and engaging story, but Tyler’s representation within the game as not only a trans man but a complex character outside of that, was inspiring to both players and game devs alike. Dontnod’s collaboration with GLAAD and using lived experience was a huge factor in creating Tyler.

 

Technobabylon

Max Lao; one of Technobabylon’s 3 main characters, who is a tech-savvy operative on the police force. It is discovered within emails within the game that she is a trans woman, who previously attended an all-boys school.

 

Mass Effect

Liara T’Soni is the very first queer (and romanceable) character within the world of Mass Effect, with her own DLC within the second game. Mass Effect has a number of LGBTQIA characters within the series in total, and this article by Gayming Mag goes into greater detail on each of them!

 

Dragon Age

Dorian is the first male companion who is a romance option exclusively for a male protagonist within Dragon Age, making his debut in Dragon Age: Inquisition. He is a charming character, a mage, and an inspiration for David Gaider to continue to integrate LGBTQIA+ characters within his future game narratives.

There are so many characters within the games universe that have well-written LGBTQIA+ characters, and these are just a few highlights from our community! If you’re looking to delve into more LGBTQIA+ characters, our friends at Gayming Mag do fantastic work in queer culture.

We’ve found resources such as Represent Me and LGBT Characters Wikia to be brilliant in documenting LGBTQIA+ characters across fiction and video games.

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Stardew Valley

The player inherits their grandfather’s old farm plot in the beautiful town of Stardew Valley, which is your chance to start a new life and create a thriving farm. Players throughout the game will get to know Stardew Valleys inhabitants, make friends, start relationships and celebrate being together.

Stardew Valley is a feel-good game that you can lose hours in just taking care of your farm or doing other activities such as mining, fishing, mini-quests, and so much more. When we ask our community their comfort game, Stardew Valley has been in the running every time!

Features:

  • The farm is in your control do what you want with it
  • Meet interesting people, form friendships and relationships
  • Customise the game to your liking
  • Take part in events each with mini-games and things to do

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Games & apps

In Sound Mind

In Sound Mind is a psychological survival horror game developed by We Create Stuff and published by Modus Games.

In Sound Mind throws players into the shoes of Desmond Wales, a psychologist who has just awoken to find his town has flooded and a mysterious chemical looms around every corner. The narrative is an interesting one, a game that keeps you guessing throughout your playthrough. We believe that In Sound Mind belongs on the list due to the portrayal of each fear. While the game is a survival horror, it’s quite the experience getting to delve into each of these mysterious worlds to try to solve what is going on with Desmond, and what happened to his patients.

These worlds are so unique to each other, each with a very dark representation, from ghost-like entities to almost alien-like creatures, no world is the same, you must do what it takes to solve the mystery. Virginia the first patient struggles with social anxieties, Allen struggles with fear, Max has issues with his anger and Lucas’s PTSD was taking over his life. By solving the mysteries you can bring the patients and Desmond peace.

In Sound Mind boasts a mesmerising visual style with beautiful lighting effects. The game is dark, but it’s the chemical compound and the atmospheric lighting that is eye-catching. It also showcases a great soundtrack by Living Tombstone. With such a narrative-driven game, We Create Games have secured some brilliant voice acting talent that conveys the emotion in each of the patients and the fear in Desmond; the fear of not understanding how he got here and why.

Features

  • Interesting puzzles that blend in with patients fears & touch on mental health/illnesses
  • Creative boss fights
  • Beautiful graphics especially the lighting effects
  • A creative narrative that keeps you guessing

 

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Delving Into Our Own Minds in Psychonauts 2

Psychonauts 2 players are loving the bizarre but wonderful world that Double Fine has created. Specifically, players are appreciating connecting to their own mental health experiences, and the strong advocation of healing within the game. Psychonauts 2 puts players in the shoes of Razputin, an ex-circus performer turned psychic spy part of the Psychonauts organisation.

The organisation is tasked with keeping an eye on the world and rescuing people’s minds by going into their heads and trying to fix the issue at hand, so that the person in question feels better. You’ll explore many different characters’ minds whilst also trying to find a mole within the organisation who is trying to bring back Maligula, a cruel hydrokinetic who the organisation took down 20 years ago after destroying the fictional city that Raz comes from. Along the way, you’ll find more about the organisation and its characters that we’ve come to know and love.

Psychonauts 2 is a 3-D platformer that offers a myriad of fun tasks to take on. While the main story mentioned above is key, there are also a lot of side quests for players to take on, and exploring the world of Psychonauts is nothing short of wonderful. Double Fine has created a world full of character and lore which makes checking out every little nook and cranny of the game feel very rewarding. Not only do players broaden their understanding about mental health and empathy, but get to check out some fantastic art design and creative ideas on the journey.

Mental health themes are so key to this game. After all, you’re tasked with delving into different people’s minds! In one instance, Razputin must go into the mind of Compton to help him with his performance anxiety. To do this, you enter a gameshow with some pretty horrifying puppets which represent the staff around the psychonauts HQ. In the show, you must cook some very bizarre meals by using the audience (who are ingredients) to make these dishes. The more you make, the harder it gets; but the better Compton feels.

Double Fine covered mental health themes in a very unique way. You are notified at the start of the sequel about the subjects it delves into, already signalling what is going to be explored, from trauma victims with PTSD and others with psychosis. This offers insight to those who might not fully understand the illnesses and what a person may feel like. The way Double Fine has used these subject matters in such a respectful way but also provided a way for everyone to tackle is downright wonderful. While mental health is becoming more understood, we have a way to go, but developers using imaginative ways to tell stories of relatable events in the mental health world is providing more with an understanding. This is especially inviting for the gamers who perhaps aren’t as interested in delving into video games that are purely mental health orientated and perhaps just feel like playing a quirky platformer. By putting the subject matter into an engaging storyline, it allows more subtle explorations into topics that many games don’t explore.

From the initial reviews, you can already tell that people are loving the game, not only because of its quirky ever-changing gameplay and style, but because of its relatable way of exploring mental health in more joyful and positive ways.

Safe In Our World has always recognised the power of video games and telling stories, which is echoed by our affiliates and our community. Psychonauts 2 manages to cover so many tough subject matters in such a unique way, which makes us hopeful that more developers will engage and experiment with mental health representation within their games in the future. The video games of today are constantly changing and evolving, and provide a platform for gamers to explore and reflect on their own mental health in an engaging way.

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Lake

Set in the 1980’s, players take on the role of Meredith Weiss, a woman brought back home to help her father by taking his role as a postal worker while her family enjoys a holiday away.

Along the way, players will deliver packages and letters whilst discovering more about the locals and choosing how they interact with them.

As time passes, you start to realise how alive Lake feels, whilst the gameplay focuses on choosing your path, listening and communicating.

As the game moves forward, you see the effects of what you do on the people you talk to, you’ll also make some new relationships and possibly even a love interest along the way. We chose Lake because while playing through, it stood out as a game that taught you to sometimes stop, and listen, one small act of kindness can change a life and who knows where these little acts could take you. Empathy and understanding are key throughout the game, though it is all down to player-choice which makes the learning process a lot more interesting. When not talking to the locals, you’ll be delivering packages, mail and sometimes even other little tasks depending on how you communicate with certain people.

Features:

  • Explore a beautiful lakeside town and make friends with its inhabitants
  • Choose the way you live the life of Meredith Weiss
  • A fun and relaxing postal working job

 

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Psychonauts 2

Psychonauts 2 throws us back in Double Fine’s wonderful and weird world of Psychonauts. We delve back into the life of Raz who is now an intern at Psychonauts HQ.

Players will take a deep dive into other characters’ minds and discover all sorts of situations that simulate things many of us experience regularly.

Not is all as it seems at the HQ, not since the second in command, Forsythe, had taken over in the absence of Zanotto after his kidnapping. Raz and the gang will also explore and fix people’s minds by going into them using psychic powers.

This introduces the players to incredible worlds that are handled delicately and sensitively with respect, even containing a heartfelt warning message before you jump in warning players of the triggers and content.

The quirky and cartoon style comes to life with its unique art style, wonderfully gripping storyline and gameplay that keeps changing to keep the experience fresh. Psychonauts 2 belongs on our list for exploring difficult subjects in a heartfelt and respectful way, as well as being a fun 3D platformer allowing players to explore this wonderfully created world from Double Fine.

Features:

  • A fantastic story that centers around mental health
  • Unique art style
  • Ever-changing gameplay
  • Brilliant accessibility and customization

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Games & apps

Sea of Solitude

Sea of Solitude takes players on a personal journey of a young woman’s loneliness in a beautiful and evolving world where nothing is what it seems. Players will explore a flooded city by boat, foot and swimming, and discover what lies beneath the surface in a world that is haunted by a struggle of darkness and light. 

Players will be faced with monsters from the darkness, puzzles that piece together tainted memories of the world, all in an effort for Kay to discover what it truly means to be human.

Features:

  • A beautiful world to explore
  • Puzzles to keep you engaged
  • An interesting mystery to solve
  • Meet monsters with their own struggles

Skills utilised:
Games & apps

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