2018 gave us some memorable LGBT video game characters, both in big budget games and smaller indie titles.
Indeed, the amount of LGBT+ representation in video games is still frustratingly low, so it’s important to celebrate the queer LGBT+ video game characters that are present.
We’ve listed the eight best queer video game characters of the year.
J.J. in The Missing: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories
In The Missing players follow the LGBT video game character J.J. around in this lesbian-themed video game. J.J. has lost her girlfriend on a mysterious island and is trying to find her again. Strangely enough, she is unable to die in this place. To progress, she repeatedly has to inflict self-harm to continue, like setting herself on fire or dismembering herself.
As the story progresses it becomes clear through unlocked text messages, that self-harm is part of J.J.’s history as a response to her critical, religious mother and having to deal with a secret about her gender identity.
The Missing is a rare game in which the queerness of the main character is not only part of the story, but also an integral part of the gameplay.
Donovan in Red Strings Club
Gay video game character Donovan is a bartender in Red Strings Club, but that’s just a front for his real job as an information broker. He combines the two by serving visitors drinks which offer different emotional effects.
Donovan has the uncanny ability to know exactly which drink his visitors want, even if they don’t know it themselves. Since Donovan can’t leave the bar to anything with the information he receives from his customers, he shares it with his lover: a hacker called Brandeis.
The game does have a problematic scene, where the main characters, in order to find a password, have to search for the deadname of a transgender woman.
Neeko in League of Legends
League of Legends creator Riot Games revealed in 2017 that one of its many heroes is queer. The LGBT video game character Varus turned out to be a fusion of two men in love, which was revealed in an amazingly produced video.
And in 2018 new hero Neeko was introduced.
Neekso is a chameleon who can transform into other creatures. On Twitter, League of Legends writer Matt Dunn confirmed that Neeko identifies as a lesbian video game character.
The responses to this news shows how important representation in video games is. Like how Laura Sunblossom wrote: “As a young queer person, it’s great to see characters like Neeko in media who represent my reality so accurately.”
The whole of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
It would be unfair to just pick one video game character from Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, since the game is packed to the brim with queerness if you’re looking for it. The player character, either Alexios or Kassandra, can romance a whole buffet of characters where gender is no barrier.
Players also get introduced to other characters that have LGBT+ relationships. And Ancient Greece, where the game takes place, is overflowing with statues of gorgeous naked men and women.
Players can even unlock a unicorn with a glowing pink horn, leaving a rainbow trail behind while riding towards more adventure and sex.
So, it’s pretty much among the holy grail of LGBT video games.
Oswald Thatcher and Newton Blight in Vampyr
Life is Strange, the previous game from developer Dontnod, featured two girls who could fall in love with each other. So it’s no surprise that Vampyr, the 2018 game from the same studio, also features LGBT+ characters.
In the game, players take the role of a vampire during the Victorian era in London. They can meet Oswald Thatcher, a man who fought in the war and was buried there for multiple days in a tunnel with a soldier named Newton Blight. Something good happened in that tunnel. Oswald shares that he loves Newton, but that Newton is too ashamed of their relationship.
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When the player encounters Newton, he also declares his love. But it turns out that he’s not ashamed, but scared that people will find out. Players can choose to encourage Newton to enjoy life and to not let anyone tell him who or how he should love.
Haru in One Night, Hot Springs
The small, free video game One Night, Hot Springs explores the anxiety around being transgender in Japan. Haru is a transgender girl who is invited by her friend to go to the hot springs.
That sounds like fun, but it also means segregated baths for men and women and Haru having to undress. As the player, you get to make some of Haru’s choices, like how much information you share with strangers.
This trans video game is great for LGBT awareness.
Nigel in Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 was the biggest video game release of the year. Game creator Rockstar worked for seven years on a world that amazes with its attention to detail. Unfortunately, the game lacks in LGBT+ representation.
Some say that the story hints to one of the main characters, Bill, being gay. But those hints are so subtle, that they are easily missed or can be interpreted in another way. In the case of side character Nigel, the same-sex sexual attraction is a little bit more clear.
Nigel is a British man who can be found roaming the Wild West looking for a guy named Gavin. Although he doesn’t spell out that they are lovers, he does share that Gavin went missing in the morning. “I woke up and he just wasn’t there,” Nigel says. “He left me… I lost him, I mean.” Later Nigel states how “charming” and “lovely” Gavin is and that he “loves that boy.” Sorry mate, it seems that Gavin is just done with you. Hopefully you’ll find another cowboy to have your Brokeback Mountain moment with.
Prince Amir in Your Royal Gayness
This LGBT video game is all about royals. The young prince Amir is gay, but his mom and dad want him to marry nice princess. When his parents go traveling, it’s time for Amir to start dating boys. Meanwhile the player has to govern the kingdom while dealing with disasters like fires, wolves and lots of cats.
The funniest parts of the game are when princesses knock on the door for Amir’s hand in marriage, and you have to find an excuse to send them away.