LGBT Video Game Characters
Traditionally, gamers haven't always been the most accepting bunch. Sure, you'll find plenty of open-minded folks who are hardcore gamers, but it doesn't take long to find out that an extremely vocal section of the video game fandom isn't always very accepting of the LGBT population. Spend twenty minutes in Call of Duty and you'll probably be called several varieties of anti-homosexual slurs before the first match even ends.
That's why it is so noteworthy when developers include LGBT characters in their video games. Already underrepresented in most forms of media, queer video game characters are the rarest of the rare. The testosterone-driven fanbase just isn't into man-on-man action. Defying convention, here are a few of the openly gay characters to be found in video games.
And before you ask, this is only a list of characters you can play, so no Gay Tony.
Joachim (Shadow Hearts 2)
Shadow Hearts 2 (SH2) was pretty out there. Among the playable characters that would join your party in this PS2 RPG were a magical wolf, Russian princess Anastasia, and an old man who uses puppets to kill enemies. But the most remarkable of all of them was Joachim, a gay wrestler/vampire/super hero. SH2 makes it fairly clear early on that Joachim is willing to take a walk on the wild side.
One of the most openly gay video game characters, there is even a major sidequest that ends with Joachim having a homosexual encounter with his Turkish wrestling teacher. Although the game is fairly progressive, that doesn't stop the other characters from reacting with disgust.
Joachim isn't the only gay character in this game, either. A pair of gay shopkeepers will trade you new dresses for your magical doll in exchange for gay pornography. Shadow Hearts 2 is amazing.
"Shadow Hearts 2": The Man Festival
Zevran and Leliana (Dragon Age Origins)
Okay, technically they're both bisexual. Bioware has done a good job of including LGBT characters in their games. In the original Mass Effect, female players were able to enter into a lesbian relationship with one of the NPCs. However, plans to include a male/male option were dropped due to a perceived lack of interest in the gaming community.
Not so in Dragon Age. Male players could chat up the sexually promiscuous elf Zevran while ladies could find comfort in the arms of bard-turned-nun Leliana. Dragon Age is remarkable in that it doesn't shy away from the bedroom portion of relationships, either. Whether gay or straight, the game is willing to show lovemaking scenes without turning its head.
Little is known about what direction Dragon Age 2 will take in regards to character romances, but the first game in the series is remarkable for including such strong gay and lesbian game characters.
Of course, since you can enter into a relationship with either of them, your own main character could be gay as well. But since that is entirely dependent on how you play the game, we'll just let instances of incidental homosexuality from PC's slide.
Kanji (Persona 4)
In Persona 4, all of the characters end up exploring dark dungeon versions of what they really are on the inside. Some are warped versions of children's fantasies, others bizarre romantic dreams, and then... there's Kanji. A local tough and a bully, when you visit Kanji's inner world, you'd expect to find something violent, maybe something about a brutal childhood.
What you actually find is a gay bathhouse. While inside his this world of his own creation, Kanji becomes a bit of a prancing pony. He openly extols the virtues of gay sex several times and is pretty much a walking, talking stereotype.
Some fans will read into the scene that it is just a reflection of his fear over being emasculated for liking arts and crafts, but there are other hints in the game. He's scared and intrigued when male characters ask to meet him alone. He has an odd sleepover with the main character. This and other signs seem to point to Kanji's subtext being just plain text.
Kanji is one of the most unique homosexual video game characters ever. He's tough, brash, and his sexuality is actually very important to the storyline. He's ambiguous enough that he won't offend overt bigots but obvious enough that he's not fooling anybody except himself.
Kanji Is Not Subtle
Rain and Hana (Fear Effect 2)
This one is going way back. Fear Effect 2 is an early PS1-era action game. At the time, it was announced that the saucy leading lady would be getting a lesbian love interest. At the time, it was all the talk. Today, it is mostly a yawner.
The relationship was aimed mainly towards male titillation rather than making any real attempt at inclusiveness. Still, it is probably one of the earliest examples of an out homosexual character in a mainstream video game.
Zangeif (Street Fighter Series)
In Japanese culture, the American conception of masculinity is their version of flaming queens. Big muscles and hairy chests? Super queer. Wrestling? Gayest of the gay.
So, it comes as no surprise that Street Fighter's Zangief is intended to be homosexual. Capcom has, in the past, even stated that it was their intention that Zangief is a representative of the gay community in video games.
They have since backed off that statement, giving him a few female love interests which have never really stuck. Through it all, he's remained the same giant Russian bear wrestler (*COUGH*) who just loves pile driving the world warriors between his thighs.
Games Where YOU'RE Gay (Sometimes)
A number of games also allow players to engage in same-sex relationships. These are only choices and these games always feature the option to play as a heterosexual character as well. In addition to the aforementioned Dragon Age and Mass Effect titles, here are a few games where your lead character can be gay.
- Bully: Bully raised a bit of a commotion when the mainstream media found out that your character could make out with boys AND girls if he was so inclined. It was a major scuttlebutt at the time, but not actually important to the game. Who you make out with doesn't actually affect the storyline in any significant way.
- The Sims Series: Anyone can make out with anyone in The Sims. Even more important, gay video game characters can get married in this popular series. No one seems to comment on it, either, so it seems like homophobia is dead in this video game universe, at least.
- Fallout 2: Not only can your male character get involved with another male character in Fallout 2, but you can also get married. Unlike other video games, however, other characters will acknowledge your sexual orientation. And, unfortunately, like real life, most of these interactions will be negative.
- Fable: Another sandbox game where you can marry just about anyone you choose, male or female. There are plenty of gay and lesbian game relationships to peruse in this game. Once again, the actual sexuality of your characters will never be addressed by anyone in the game. It is simply something that provides the player with more options.