Pride month is always a busy one in the gaming industry. June is when LGBTQ people take to the streets in various places around the world to celebrate themselves and each other. It’s also the month during which E3, the most notable yearly event of the gaming industry (though how long this will be the case remains to be seen), takes place. In the midst of the excitement for new titles and celebrations, it might not be easy to combine the two and play some great games that feature queer themes. Here’s a list of 10 queer games that you might not have had time for in June, but that you definitely need to play in celebration of Pride.
This is a wholesome game about baseball and girls who like girls. We’ve already covered its importance as a story that is unabashedly about love and friendship between queer girls of color, as well as one that touches on subjects like mental health, child abuse and identity. It’s also genuinely hilarious, with a distinctly millennial humor injected into every scene. It’s simply a lighthearted game with some brilliant character moments that will make you smile and easily relate to Diya, Min-seo, Akarsha and Noelle—some of the most vibrant characters in videogames.
Since the first installment, Dragon Age has been known for its queer inclusivity, and the third game in the series is no different; in fact, it goes several steps beyond its predecessors. The character arc of Dorian Pavus, one of the central characters, explicitly focuses on his struggles as a gay magister from Tevinter, a society in which powerful appearances that align with the majority are everything. Inquisition also introduces Krem, the first transgender character to appear in a BioWare game. Best of all: regardless of your gender or sexuality, you have several options for smooching and meaningful romances.
Known as A Dad Dating Simulator, this is a visual novel published by Game Grumps that explores queer identity, fatherhood and love between men. Create your own dad, be a good dad and date other good dads. It’s not a perfect game—identity is so complicated because people themselves are incredibly complex. Alongside its faults is a tenderness and genuine desire to have diverse representation and inclusivity. Dream Daddy knows its unique place in the industry as one of the few visible games that center on queer men, and as a result, it does everything with an earnestness that’s easy to enjoy.
If you haven’t played Gone Home yet, we won’t spoil how deeply queerness ties into its narrative—it’s worth seeing it for yourself. It’s a game that trusts you to uncover every nook and cranny; to seek the truth and to reap its rewards. It’s an intimate and powerful story that deals with freedom and identity, and one that undoubtedly speaks to many queer players. The little things it does with the medium’s interactivity—like denying you from reading a personal letter in a trash bin because it’d be an invasion of privacy—are still clever five years later.
Paste contributor Dia Lacina describes it as her “Game of the Year that didn’t make my list.” We get it—sometimes we miss out on playing some brilliant games before the year’s up; after all, that might be why you’re reading this list. So if you’re into queerness, mech pilots and queer mech pilots, you won’t want to miss this one. It gracefully weaves a tale about technology and queer girls who are trying to figure themselves and each other out. The result is a touching transhumanist story about the various important connections we make. (Note: Heaven Will Be Mine was written and directed by former Paste contributor Aevee Bee.)
If you’re looking for a queer game that’s more on the kinky side, this erotic visual novel is a great time. Ladykiller in a Bind is confidently playful and honest in its depictions of sex while being equally vulnerable in its exploration of identity and consent. Follow the Beast on her journey to convince others that she is her twin brother, the Prince, on a week-long graduation cruise that involves deception, fun and even love. With entertaining dialogue and intriguing mechanics, this is a joy to play.
There are three seasons of Life is Strange, and they’re all queer as heck. While the first season and Before the Storm center on two queer girls, the second season stars a bisexual boy of color. In the sphere of games published by AAA companies, this is one of the most progressive series out there. It touches on not just queerness, but racism, cyber-bullying, abuse and much more. It’s a particularly great series to play if you’re looking for stories that take teenagers seriously by portraying their real struggles without judgment.
One of the most magical lines in any game to me comes up when Mae, the protagonist, has a conversation about parties with her friend Angus. When they talk about how awful parties can be, Angus says that parties with Gregg—his boyfriend and Mae’s childhood friend—are different. When Mae asks him why, he responds with: “You know how you want to just go and stand in a corner sometimes? Gregg’s my corner.” If you’re into queerness, conversations about mental health and critiquing the hell out of capitalism, you’re bound to love Night in the Woods.
“This game was made with the belief that nobody is wrong for being what they are.” These are the opening words of The Missing, a horror platformer about a girl who sets out to find her missing lover. It’s also a queer tragedy—and conversations surrounding queer tragedies are often complex and messy since media has a history of fetishizing the pain of queer people. But that doesn’t mean that there’s no place in this world for stories about our pains and struggles, especially because that’s simply how the world works—it’s happy and painful in equal measures. Despite its main mechanic requiring you to tear the protagonist’s limbs off, the care with which the game handles subjects like bigotry, suicide and trauma make it empowering.
Religion is a complicated topic on its own, to say the least—but it’s all the more challenging to wrestle with if you’re part of the LGTBQ community. If you’ve had to repress your queerness for the sake of fitting in, whether it be in a religious community or not, We Know the Devil sees you. On the surface, it’s about three teenagers who have to fight being possessed by the devil at a summer camp for delinquents. At its core, it’s about the ways in which we exclude not just individuals, but groups of people; about the torture of isolation and the beauty of self-actualization. (Note: We Know the Devil was written and directed by former Paste contributor Aevee Bee.)
Natalie Flores is a freelance writer who loves to talk about games, K-pop and too many other things at @heartimecia.