June is Pride Month, and what better way to celebrate than a shout-out for our favourite LGBTQ+ characters. The queer community in video games have been represented much earlier than mainstream media. And as such have served as a great place for the community to feel represented. The characters are meaningfully portrayed, they have complex, fascinating, stories and personalities and relationships. There’s not a list long enough to showcase the impact the representation of LGBTQ+ characters has made, but we’ll start with some of our favourites.
Tyler Ronan – Tell Me Why
Tyler Ronan is one of the few trans protagonist characters featured in a video game. In Dontnod Entertainment’s adventure narrative game Tell Me Why, you play as both Tyler, a trans man and his twin sister Alyson Ronan.
I’m not going to spoil the experience for those of you that haven’t played the game but as you might suspect, it’s an emotional rollercoaster. Throughout the game, there are glimpses of Tyler’s transition experience, from his testosterone shots, his binder and his feelings of anger, betrayal and more. It’s an emotionally brutal story that is full of pain and love and acceptance. Even if you’re not in the queer community it is a story worth experiencing.
Tell Me Why was developed together with groups such as GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) to ensure that Tyler’s representation was not only respectful but also authentic. He is also voiced by a trans male voice actor, August Aiden Black.
Judy Álvarez – Cyberpunk 2077
Judy is one of the romantic options for a female lead character in Cyberpunk 2077. She’s a member of the Mox gang and one of the best braindance techies. She grew up a little restricted in a small town going to church with her grandparents and her acceptance of her gender preference must have been difficult for her. As you’ll see in some of her backstory. But by the time your character meets her, she’s a confirmed queer and a solid badass living in Night City.
On romancing Judy, she starts off a little cold and subdued, but as your relationship continues she opens up and confides in V more. The interaction is heartwarming and it’s wonderfully sweet to watch Judy open up more. It could be the beginning of something amazing.
In terms of representation, Judy Álvarez is also a Latina and her culture comes to play in the game. From certain Spanish words and more. It’s great to see more diversity in our LGBTQ+ coming to play.
Aloy – Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores
It took two games and a DLC to finally confirm that Aloy from Guerrilla Games’ Horizon series is queer. While there have been hints of same-sex attractions in the previous games we finally have a confirmation of Aloy’s sexual identity with a love interest and a big gay kiss. Yay.
In the Burning Shores DLC, Aloy meets Sekya, who becomes her friend and over the course of the game, something more. The chemistry between them builds pretty quickly, and eventually, Aloy is given the option of taking their connection in a more romantic direction. That’s mostly what we know about their relationship, but with Aloy having to save the world so many times, somewhat alone, it’s so nice that she has a chance to be with someone.
Also a big shout out to some Asian representation in addition to all the queer energy.
Dorian Pavus – Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dorian Pavus is one of the iconic LGBTQ+ characters in video games and he comes from 2014’s Dragon Age: Inquisition. He is a necromancer mage from Tevinter and is known for his flirtatious, sassy and fashion-loving personality. You’re able to romance him if you’re a male character in the game.
Dorian identifies as gay and there’s some comment within the community about how his character is portrayed. It has been commented that he’s a gay stereotype or that his storyline focuses too much on his ‘sexuality’. But I’d say that he’s a more complex character than what his critics make him out to be, and his writer, David Gaider, is a gay man himself, which lends some authenticity to his portrayal.
Where this story with Dorian shines is when he opens up about his feelings towards your character. Like most of his somewhat flighty personality, he never expected this relationship to become serious. As he mentions, gay relationships are treated as just a passing fancy in Tevinter. But you can choose to take the relationship seriously no matter what the rest of the world thinks of you.
Ellie Williams – The Last Of Us
Ellie is an extraordinary character sans any gender relationship preference and The Last of Us is now a landmark of videogame history. After everything that she’s been through she is still resilient, ruthless, kind, protective and vulnerable. In The Last of Us: Left Behind we get to experience the heartbreaking and touching story of her first love, Riley. And how her relationship and her life were forever changed by that.
Ellie is not just defined by her sexual orientation, she is a multi-faceted queer person who goes through an entire journey. The writers took that to heart and there are times when things got really ugly for her, and it sometimes got uncomfortable for us to watch and participate in. But that’s the reality of emotions and of life and it’s good of the writers to make us feel the almost raw nature of the story.
Birdetta – Super Mario Bros.
Birdetta is a Birdo creature in Super Mario Bros. They are dinosaur-like and shoot eggs out of their mouth. According to the Super Mario Bros 2 instruction manual, Birdetta is described as “a boy who thinks he’s a girl.” Which iconically makes her the first trans character in Nintendo.
She and Yoshi are currently in a romantic relationship.
Parvati Holcomb – The Outer Worlds
One of the rare representations of an asexual relationship is present in The Other Worlds. Parvati is a shy, quiet and empathetic yet naive mechanic working in Edgewater. She’s lived a very sheltered life with a limited social circle, in fact, the machines seem more like her friends than other people.
Parvati has had relationships before in the part but as an asexual, she has a disinterest in the physical side of relationships. This has resulted in her partners finding her “cold”. But further into the game she develops a crush on the station’s engineer, Junlei. You can then choose to help set up a perfect date for both of them where they’ll continue their relationship. Provided nobody dies before or after.
Parvati Holcomb was written by Kate Dollarhyde who also identifies as a bi and asexual woman.
Chloe Price – Life Is Strange
Besides Ellie, from The Last of Us, the next most iconic LGBTQ+ character is Chloe Price. She is the deuteragonist of Life is Strange and is the best friend and potential romantic interest of Max Caulfield.
Chloe isn’t the perfect character and she’s not meant to be. She went through some hard times that forced her to build a hard shell around her feelings. Often acting out on her insecurities by getting high, being angry, drinking and engaging in high-risk activities. So similarly angsty teenage behaviour. And yet despite her irrational, irresponsible and sometimes selfish behaviour, there’s something about her and Max’s relationship that pulls at your heartstrings.
You can empathise with everything she’s gone through and it’s rewarding to see the changes in her behaviour as the story progresses. No spoilers here but you can really appreciate her character development as she finds support with Max.
Liara T’Soni – Mass Effect Series
Liara is an Asari, and by all accounts, they are a pansexual race but they are also mono-gendered so are they pansexual or just bi. Either way, they have the ability to mate with any race regardless of gender or species. The offspring however will always come out as Asari females.
When you first meet Liara in Mass Effect 1 she is a young researcher who has dedicated her life to studying Prothean technology and culture. And in pursuing a relationship with her she informs you of how important the connection between the two of you will be to her. It’s her first time ever being romanced and it comes out as a very sweet and soft romance. As you progress throughout the series you’ll see that her feelings for you remain strong whether you romance her or not and there is a genuineness to her connection to you.
Flea – Chrono Trigger
Flea from Chrono Trigger was probably one of the first non-binary characters out in the 90s. He is a shapeshifter that prefers to keep a female shape but still identifies as a man. He even uses Japanese feminine terms in his speech. Ending his sentences with “yo ne” in the Japanese version, intended to be “cutesy.”
Even though he is an antagonist and LGBTQ+ character in Chrono Trigger, he isn’t vilified for his sexuality. And instead was just widely accepted as a gender-ambiguous villain. He’s not the deepest or most complex of characters but for Nintendo and media in 1995, this was a big step towards alternate gender representation.