In the 2014 Playstation 4 game Dragon Age: Inquisition, Dorian is a powerful wizard who helps the main character save the world from a demon army. As the son of a powerful political family, Dorian trained in magical arts under the best instructors, and his life at first glance appears to be one of privilege. When interacting with the main character controlled by the player Dorian is unafraid to flaunt his pedigree and does little to hide his arrogance. He is also a romantic option for the main character to pursue, providing the player makes strategic, personal, and political choices that please him.
Amidst all the intrigue, theres a pleasant catch: Dorian will only kiss a man. Hell only be with a man. Hell only marry a man.
When he was younger, Dorian was forced to undergo conversion therapy (called blood magic in the game) by his father. But as it is in real life, the torture did not change Dorians sexuality. Instead, it motivated Dorian to fight against the discrimination that befell him.
- - - advertisement - - -
In addition to being the rare gay man in a mainstream video game, Dorian is also one of the even rarer gay men of color. Designer John Epler said, when asked about his nationality, that Indian would be the closest real world analogue.
In the 70-year history of video games, from Pong to Super Mario Bros to the sweeping, hundred-million dollar epics we see today, it took over 60 for a gay person of color to show up as a major character in a mainstream release. But unlike the worries of past decades that LGBTQ content would repel heterosexual consumers Dorians inclusion didnt sway people from partaking in the quest. Dragon Age: Inquisition ultimately sold millions of copies, and other big-budget games of the 2010s that featured same-sex relationships, including Mass Effect 3, which featured another gay person of color in Steve Cortez, sold equally well.
Unsurprisingly, not many video game characters are LGBTQ. Like most businesses dominated first by white heterosexual men, inclusivity was not a priority for game designers and publishers. But LGBTQ characters did exist relatively early on in the industry, if one knew where to look. The 1986 computer game Moonmist, about a detective investigating ghosts in a castle, featured a scorned lover who is thought to be the first lesbian video game character, though like many early queer characters in books, films, and video games it was not explicity stated.
In 1989, during the advent of the World Wide Web, Caper in the Castro, by most accounts the first LGBTQ video game ever created, was released for MAC and shared among early Internet bulletin board systems. That same year, a trans character and a gay character were featured in the game Circuits Edge. And 1992 saw the release of adventure game GayBlade, which pitted players against an evil, pixelated Pat Buchanan lookalike.
But while some LGBTQ video games and characters thrived in niche spaces in the 1980s and 1990s, the giants of the industry, Nintendo and Sega, and later on Sony and Microsoft, had little LGBTQ representation in their games.
Most of the queer characters in mainstream games of the 1990s fit into two categories: stereotypical or discreet. Often times, overt homosexual content, like the leather daddy Ash in Segas Streets of Rage 3, was completely erased from American versions of games. In other instances dialogue was changed to remove any sexual ambiguity. But many more characters were simply hidden in plain sight. Recognizing LGBTQ characters in games was akin to recognizing LGBTQ people in books, films or real life: one needed to keep track of context clues and add them up, like a digital gaydar.
In the 1995 game Earthbound, released on the Super Nintendo, one of the minor characters, an adolescent boy named Tony, has a deep friendship with his classmate Jeff. Tony helps Jeff break out of boarding school so Jeff can help the player save the world. Later on in the game Tony is kidnapped, and when the player discovers him under duress, he repeatedly says Jeffs name. Years after the games release, developer Shigesato Itoi said of Tony: I designed him to be a gay child.
Rarely would a developer confirm a characters sexuality as Itoi did. Most times players were left to draw their own interpretations about a characters sexual orientation. Other assumed but unconfirmed examples of queer characters include Billy and Brad from Wild Arms 2, Jaciel and Deyanira from Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall and Front Mission 2s Rocky and Ash.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, as a precursor to games like Dragon Age, many games unveiled the ability for players to make choices, choose-your-own-adventure style, that impacted the main characters relationship with others. Sometimes this included the option for the characters to enter into romantic relationships. Games like Star Ocean and Jade Empire allowed players to choose male or female main characters and to romance the supporting characters regardless of gender. The same feature was present in the very first The Sims game, having been programmed by a gay employee, though its inclusion occurred largely due to a series of miscommunications.
When The Sims the now-iconic life simulation game was first being developed, the creative team initially decided not to include the ability for characters to have same-sex relationships. But when the games code actually got written, the programmer was given an old memo that did not reflect that decision, and he wound up creating the ability for characters to romance whomever they wished. Even after a kiss between two female Sims shocked the audience during a demo at the Electronics Entertainment Expo, the function was allowed to remain. The Sims became a global hit and spurred many sequels which have sold over 200 million copies worldwide.
Although some games like The Sims featured characters who were willing to go to bed with any gender, by the mid 2000s there still existed a lack of defined, unique LGBTQ characters in mainstream video games. There were few characters who were uniquely gay or uniquely lesbian or trans, few characters who changed their dialogue depending on who they spoke to, few characters, like Dorian, who were given the courage to come out.
In 1998, Fallout 2 became the first video game to allow same-sex marriages, almost two decades before nationwide marriage equality in the U.S. A few years later, Fable (2004) and The Sims 2 (2004) followed suit. Players of those games could choose who they decided to flirt with, romance and marry. The ability for the player to control a main character that entered into a gay or lesbian marriage was an historic development. But the decision to engage in same-sex relationships was left to the player, and most LGBTQ content in games could still be avoided if one did not wish to see it. But that was slowly beginning to change.
- - - advertisement - - -
By the time the Supreme Court made its milestone 2013 decision in United States v. Windsor, which set the stage for marriage equality a few years later, LGBTQ characters were featured in numerous games a year. According to the LGBTQ Video Game Archive, 63 games released in 2013 featured LGBTQ characters or content.
2013 was also the year gamers were introduced to Ellie, one of the main characters in The Last Of Us, widely considered to be one of the greatest games of all time. As she makes her way across a decimated United States, Ellie is reluctant to talk about her personal life, but by the journeys end she opens up about a girl she once loved. In the games two sequels, 2014s Left Behind and 2020s The Last Of Us 2, Ellies sexuality is featured front and center. The trailer for The Last Of Us 2shows her dancing with her new girlfriend, Dina, before the two passionately kiss. The game also features a trans male character, Lev, who escapes his abusive family after being deadnamed and subjected to myriad other abuses. (The real world actor who Lev was modeled on, Ian Alexander, is also trans.)
The game was not without controversy. Expectedly, anti-LGBTQ groups decried the mere inclusion of characters like Ellie and Lev. But the game also drew ire from the LGBTQ community and its allies for the violence that Lev goes through, with some claiming the deadnaming was unnecessarily graphic when Levs traumas had already been thoroughly exposed. The Netflix documentary Disclosure addressed a similar predicament in the TV and film industry, that early trans representation, while groundbreaking, normalized the idea that trans people exist merely as objects of comedy or disgust or hatred and not as fully realized human beings. But it is possible that, just as television and film have improved in portraying trans characters and hiring trans actors, writers and directors, so too might the video game industry as it continues to evolve. And in many ways, an evolution has already begun.
While it takes hundreds of millions of dollars, large teams of people and corporate oversight to release a game like The Last of Us, it is now much easier for people to create and distribute their own games without the need for expensive equipment or the approval of a publisher. Eric Barone created the farming simulation Stardew Valley, which featured same-sex marriages, adoptions and divorces, in the C# programming language. And many independent LGBTQ games have been created using Adobe Flash, including Anna Anthropys Dys4ia, an autobiographical game created during Anthropys first six months of hormone replacement therapy, Coming Out Simulator 2014, based on developer Nicky Cases own coming out experience, and Taylor McCues Do I Pass?, an interactive novel about a trans persons experience riding a bus.
Independent LGBTQ games have also been developed for game jams contests where people create video games from scratch using software like Twine, Unity and GameMaker. In 2015, after Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old transgender girl, committed suicide, Matthew Boucher and Kara Jayne hosted Jam For Leelah. Twenty-one new trans-positive video games were created over the course of a month, many of which are still available to play on the web platform Itch.io.
LGBTQ inclusion in the video game industry continued to rise throughout the 2010s and into 2020. Many modern mainstream video games, including Life Is Strange, NieR and the Fire Emblem series now include well-developed LGBTQ characters. Likewise, LGBTQ audiences have continued to pressure the video game industry for greater representation. One of the biggest titles of 2020, Nintendos Animal Crossing: New Horizons, changed the character customization option gender to style after pressure from activists. But aside from the initial dustup, the game has been lauded specifically by trans and non-binary players, with some crediting the game with helping them realize their true identity and come out to their families.
Many LGBTQ gamers, whether in the 1980s, 1990s or 2020s, have had their moment of recognizing someone like them in a video game. Games like Dragon Age, GayBlade The Sims, and Animal Crossing mean different things to different people. But together they represent an industry that has gone from featuring stereotypes and coyness to truthful, three-dimensional characters with their own happiness, pain, regret and rebirth.
Queer representation in video games has not been perfect, and the medium still has room for improvement and growth, but theres no doubt that its in a position just like literature, just like theater and just like film to tell queer stories, and to tell them well.
For more information on LGBTQ characters in video games, visit the LGBTQ Video Game Archive online at lgbtqgamearchive.com.
- - - advertisement - - -
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Market 2020 Determined By Manufacturing Summary, Business Profile And Estimate To 2026 - PRnews Leader - October 21st, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market Demand (2020-2026) | Covering Products, Financial Information, Developments, Swot Analysis And Strategies |... - October 21st, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market 2020 Industry Size, Trends, Global Growth, Insights And Forecast Research Report 2025 - PRnews Leader - October 21st, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market anticipates revenue will hit up to XX% CAGR by 2026: Segmentation by Revenue, Gross margin, Industrial Analysis,... - October 21st, 2020
- Global Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Market By Manufacturers, Development Strategy, Upcoming Trends and Huge Growth By 2026 - PRnews Leader - October 21st, 2020
- Hammerling-Hodgers: Don't delay if you have any signs of breast cancer - Florida Today - October 21st, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market to Witness Exponential Growth by 2018 to 2028 - Aerospace Journal - October 21st, 2020
- Exclusive Interview with Dr. Zainab Mogul-Ashraf (Dr. Z) of Hebe Medical Spa - Hudson Valley Style Magazine - October 21st, 2020
- Women's Health Diagnostics Market projected to expand at a CAGR of ~6% from 2019 to 2027 - The Think Curiouser - October 21st, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market 2020 Global Analysis By Application, End-User, Market Share, Demand, Supply, Technological Trends And Forecast Till... - October 21st, 2020
- US Food and Drug Administration Accepts for Priority Review Applications for OPDIVO (nivolumab) in Combination with CABOMETYX (cabozantinib) in... - October 21st, 2020
- DSEJ organises Webinar on Breast Cancer Disease- Early Detection Saves Lives - India Education Diary - October 21st, 2020
- Having Large Testicles May be linked to Cardiovascular Disease Italian Study Shows - Gilmore Health News - October 21st, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Market Exclusive Report Analysis 2020-2025 - Aerospace Journal - October 21st, 2020
- Anti-Osteoporosis Therapy And Fracture Healing Market to Eyewitness Massive Growth by 2028: Novartis, Johnson and Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline PLC, Roche... - October 21st, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market Research Conclusions|Business Plans|Strategies with Forecast 20 - PharmiWeb.com - October 17th, 2020
- Davina McCall spoke candidly about her experience of perimenopause and HRT on Loose Women - goodhousekeeping.com - October 17th, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market Report 2019 with Key Players, Regions, Trends, Market Growth, SWOT Analysis and Forecast to 2026 - PRnews Leader - October 17th, 2020
- Schedule Your Breast Cancer Screening this Month - raccoonvalleyradio.com - October 17th, 2020
- World Menopause Day: 5 must have products to cure hormonal imbalance - India Today - October 17th, 2020
- Earlier pubertal timing predicts higher psychosexuality in adulthood - PsyPost - October 17th, 2020
- The News Journal 5 things you can start doing now to help reduce your risk of breast cancer - The News Journal - October 17th, 2020
- UMass Amherst Recognized as a Top LGBTQ-Friendly Campus for 10th Consecutive Year - UMass News and Media Relations - October 17th, 2020
- Extensive new medi-wellness resort, RAKxa, will offer complete blueprint of health in Bangkok's 'Green Lung' - Spa Business - October 17th, 2020
- Raising awareness of menopause, what it is and why you arent alone - Brighton & Hove Independent - October 17th, 2020
- One key to improving medical care:... - Kirkland Reporter - October 17th, 2020
- Global Hormone Replacement Therapy Market Size 2020, Production, Share, Revenue, Analysis and Innovative Revolution and Forecast Report to 2026 -... - October 17th, 2020
- Global Hormone Replacement Therapy Market Size, Key Trends, Challenges and Standardization, Research, Key Players with COVID 19 Impact Analysis and... - October 7th, 2020
- Message to Rep. Wes Allen: HB1 is an attack on transgendered youths and parental rights - Montgomery Advertiser - October 7th, 2020
- Shoptalk: Parent company to temporarily close Edwards Grand Teton theater - Post Register - October 7th, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Industry Key Drivers, Business Insights And Forecast 2024 | F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Merck Serono, Novartis - uco360.com - October 7th, 2020
- So where is our land? Where is the space for us? - Mail and Guardian - October 7th, 2020
- Sex and Menopause, According to a Neuroscientist - Glamour - October 7th, 2020
- Your Health Is on the Ballot: Why You Should Vote for Science in the 2020 Presidential Election - Prevention.com - October 7th, 2020
- Hormone therapy is an option to treat breast cancer - Hamilton Journal News - October 3rd, 2020
- Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy Market Solid Analyzed Segmentation, Demand, Recent Share Estimation and Growth Prospects by Regions to 2022... - October 3rd, 2020
- COVID-19 Impact: Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Market | Strategic Industry Evolutionary Analysis Focus on Leading Key Players and Revenue Growth... - October 3rd, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy market size was US$ 15950 million and it is expected to reach US$ 17720 million by the end of 2026, with a CAGR of 1.5% -... - October 3rd, 2020
- Global Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Tablets Market Covid 19 Overview:Demand Analysis & Growth Opportunities By 2019-2026||ALLERGAN, Novo... - October 3rd, 2020
- Solving the Mystery of My Missing Menstruation - ELLE.com - October 3rd, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market: Technological Advancement & Growth Analysis with Forecast to 2025 - The Daily Chronicle - October 1st, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market - Quantitative Analysis, Current and Future Trends, 2018 to 2028 - The Market Records - October 1st, 2020
- Hormone replacement therapy market- factors responsible for driving or restraining the market - Credence Turbine - October 1st, 2020
- In the Business of Beautifying Hudson Valley, One Face at a Time Hebe Medical Spa in Fishkill, NY - Hudson Valley Style Magazine - October 1st, 2020
- The HER2 Testing market to Transcend the Covid-19 Barrier from 2021 onwards - The Market Records - October 1st, 2020
- Hormone therapy is an option to treat breast cancer - The Albany Herald - September 30th, 2020
- Comprehensive Report on Hormone Replacement Therapy Market 2020 | Size, Growth, Demand, Opportunities & Forecast To 2026 | Mithra Pharmaceuticals,... - September 30th, 2020
- Why Some Experts Say Cannabis Is Effective in Treating Menopause - Healthline - September 30th, 2020
- Ascendis Pharma A/S Announces Preliminary Six-Month Data from Open-Label Extension of Phase 2 PaTH Forward Trial and Files IND Amendment to Initiate... - September 30th, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market to Witness Robust Expansion Throughout the Forecast Period 2019 - 2024 - The Market Records - September 30th, 2020
- Medical profession cares little for women with early onset menopause - The Independent - September 30th, 2020
- Trans youth are less likely to have suicidal thoughts with early care - Insider - INSIDER - September 30th, 2020
- Menopausal Women May Be Able To Give Birth After Blood Plasma Injections - Anti Aging News - September 30th, 2020
- Genomics Market to Rise at 19.5% CAGR and Reach USD 82.60 Billion by 2027; Advances in Diagnostic Applications will Lead to a Wider Product Adoption,... - September 30th, 2020
- Relationship of breastfeeding duration with joint pain and knee osteoarthritis in middle-aged Korean women: a cross-sectional study using the Korea... - September 30th, 2020
- Global Hormone Replacement Therapy Market is Set for Lucrative Growth During 20202026 Zion Market Research - The Daily Chronicle - September 28th, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Market 2019 Services, Demand, Size, Growth Trends, Business Opportunities, Industry Analysis, Top Players &... - September 28th, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market Size is Thriving worldwide with Topmost Keyplayer Like:Eli Lilly, Pfizer, AbbVie, Novo Nordisk, Merck KGaA - Weekly... - September 28th, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market share forecast to witness considerable growth from 2020 to 2025 | By Top Leading Vendors F. Hoffmann-La Roche,... - September 28th, 2020
- Everything You Need To Know About Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis - NDTV Doctor - September 28th, 2020
- New Detailed Information: Hormone Replacement Therapy Market By Global Trends, Business Growth, And Forecasts 2026 | Covid19 Impact Analysis | Key... - September 22nd, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market has Huge Impact in Industry 2020 2026 - Verdant News - September 22nd, 2020
- Dar Bioscience Receives $0.9 million Under the Current Grant - BioSpace - September 22nd, 2020
- Early menopause puts women at 'significantly' higher risk of depression, study finds - TheSpec.com - September 22nd, 2020
- Does HRT affect the duration of hot flashes? - The Bethel Citizen - September 18th, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Market-Segment Market Trends, Analysis and Forecast 2019 2023 - Scientect - September 18th, 2020
- Dyspareunia: What Causes Pain During Sex and How Can it Be Prevented? - News18 - September 18th, 2020
- Predictive Analytics in Healthcare Market Growth Rate, Demands, Status and Application Forecast to 2026 - AlgosOnline - September 18th, 2020
- Isle of Wight author calling on NHS to offer 'pain-free' cancer treatment option - Isle of Wight County Press - September 18th, 2020
- Dr. Roach: Does HRT affect the duration of hot flashes? - The Detroit News - September 15th, 2020
- Assessing the COVID-19 Effect: Hormone Replacement Therapy Production Moderately Disrupted by Labor Shortages of Labor in Pandemic, Says Fact.MR - The... - September 15th, 2020
- Impact Of Covid-19: Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Market Share, Growth, Demand, Trends, Region Wise Analysis Of Top Players And Forecasts |Abbott... - September 15th, 2020
- The Chronicle of the Horse - The Chronicle of the Horse - September 15th, 2020
- Does HRT affect the duration of hot flashes? - Hays Daily News - September 12th, 2020
- Latest Study explores the Pharmaceutical Contract Manufacturing and Contract Market Witness Highest Growth in near future - The Market Chronicles - September 12th, 2020
- Global Hormone Replacement Therapy Market Research Report Contains Key Players, Industry Overview, Supply Chain, Analysis and Forecast to 2020-2025 -... - September 12th, 2020
- The office is still in the closet - Bangalore Mirror - September 12th, 2020
- Shannon Medical Center offers new option for hormone replacement therapy - Standard-Times - September 11th, 2020
- Convalescent Plasma: What We Still Need to Know - Columbia University Irving Medical Center - September 11th, 2020
- Global Hormone Replacement Therapy Market: Industry Development Scenario and Forecast to 2027 - The Daily Chronicle - September 11th, 2020