Despite all of their pixelated possibilities, many video games leave out a big portion of us out of their storytelling: the LGBTQ+ community. Thankfully, we’ve seen the push for more representation in the gaming industry since the first queer-friendly games in the 1980s. Check out this list of LGBTQ+ games you can fit in your pocket on the go or play on your laptop after a long day of classes. Whether you want romance or just better queer representation in media, we got a great variety right here for you.
Up your game and add these LGBTQ+ friendly ones to your play list:
1. Life is Strange (available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and more)
What if you could go back in time and change your past? During a fateful encounter in the school bathroom with her childhood friend, Life is Strange’s protagonist Max Caulfield discovers her supernatural ability to rewind time. With this power, Max can fix the mistakes of the past and potentially save lives. While never stated by the character out loud, Max identifies as bisexual. As Max begins to test her powers, the player can choose for Max to start a relationship with her close friends Warren or Chloe.
Dontnod’s episodic adventure game relies on the concept of the butterfly effect, or the idea that even the tiniest of choices can make colossal impacts on the future. While the player can freely choose Max’s love life, other selections do make a huge impact on the ending later on. Players who like games where your choices matter to the narrative will appreciate Life is Strange’s decision-centric storytelling. This game doesn’t just stop at Max and Chloe; its sequels also feature characters of varying sexualities who portray different aspects of the LGBTQ+ experience, both good and bad. This series shines for the way it realistically depicts romantic relationships between queer characters.
2. Tell Me Why (available on XBox and Steam)
If you never see transgender characters put into lead roles in videogames, now you will thanks to the same people who made Life is Strange. Dontnod’s Tell Me Why centers around a pair of twins, Tyler and Alyson Ronan, who possess the ability to telepathically communicate with each other and relive their old memories together. 10 years after their mother’s death, they reunite in their hometown Delos Crossing. Tyler doesn’t remember their mother and childhood how Alyson does, which sends them on an investigation to find out what exactly happened 10 years ago. They discover more about her feelings towards her children that they didn’t realize before.
Transgender characters in videogames get cast as NPCs with side plots too often. As a transgender lead, Tyler Ronan feels like a genuine character with emotions that many players can relate to rather than a stereotype. His deep past will resonate with players who have ever felt alienated or disrespected for their gender identity. Grounded in the lasting effects of childhood trauma, Tell Me Why serves as a great example of authentic transgender representation in media.
3. Unpacking (available on Steam, Nintendo Switch and more)
Moving into a new home for the first time feels puzzling, and this LGBTQ+ game takes that literally. Witch Beam’s indie game Unpacking puts a Tetris-like twist on the experience of moving into a new home. Over the course of eight levels, the player can win by fitting the items correctly into each room to create that homey lifestyle. Each home will unveil a new stage of life in the protagonist’s story, including a college dorm that probably looks similar to yours.
From childhood, college graduation to adulthood, the game tells the female protagonist’s 21 years of life entirely through her possessions. As you unpack more and more of the protagonist’s life, including her failures and successes with love, the game will take you through her gradual process of discovering her bisexuality. You may find yourself forming a connection with her, as she feels transparent and relatable to players even without saying anything throughout the entire game. Unpacking earns itself a spot on this list with its calming gameplay, unique no-words-spoken storytelling and its subtle yet impactful portrayal of the LGBTQ+ experience.
4. Night in the Woods (available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, iOS and more)
You play as a 20-year-old college dropout with a cat’s head. If that doesn’t get you intrigued, we don’t know what will. The game follows Mae Borowski as she returns to her hometown Possum Springs, a place where animalistic humans reside. Instead of the nostalgia she expects, Mae comes home to something different from the Possum Springs she left behind. The formerly successful town became desolate after it shut down its mines, and her old friends became more distant. Unfortunately like many of us, life forced them to grow up.
“One thing that made me feel really connected to Mae was that she didn’t like change. There was a part of her that didn’t want things to change, and that was the main reason why she dropped out of college. I understood Mae’s fear of change and how she didn’t want to grow up. She still wanted to be that carefree child with her friends,” Chapman University junior Tina Huynh said. “Mae is canonically pansexual, but I didn’t realize that until I read her character bio after watching the game because it’s a really normal aspect of her life. The characters’ personalities don’t center around their sexualities alone. The game deals more with these characters’ personal struggles with life, which makes them feel more human.”
All these things lead her into the woods, where a dark secret about her town lies waiting for her to uncover it. While not a central part of the story, the game’s cast of characters shines quite the rainbow of queer identities, including lesbian, gay, transgender and nonbinary. Our own protagonist identifies as pansexual. With their group of friends, Night in the Woods intertwines supernatural and real elements of life to create an emotion-ridden story about insecurity, mental illness and the way of finding meanings in life when you feel lost.
5. The Arcana: A Mystic Romance (available on iOS, Android)
If you love anything mystical, The Arcana packs a magical punch you can put in your pocket. Set in the city of Vesuvia, the visual novel lets you play as a magician who must use their magic and tarot cards to solve a murder mystery. Here, you get to make your own choices, including your name and pronouns. Unlike many games that restrict you to masculine or feminine pronouns, The Arcana provides the player with more space to choose their own gender expression. No matter your sexual orientation, you can freely choose from six fascinating love interests, including the accused murderer to accompany on your mission. Why not get to know the possibly murderous yet alluring doctor, right?
Every love interest offers a separate route with the good Upright ending and the bad Reversed ending. Aside from the main routes, the game includes content such as mini postcards with messages from your favorite characters, tarot readings and even short side stories. Here, you won’t just find cheesy romance. The Arcana weaves a well-crafted tale of mystery, discovery and adventure. Flip The Lovers card upright in this LGBTQ+ game, and go on a journey with your loved ones to solve your murder mystery and elusive past.
6. Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator (available on iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch and more)
I mean, the title says it all. Simulate finding your ideal romance with seven different hot dads in Dream Daddy. Set in Maple Bay, the storyline centers around a single father who just moved into town with his daughter Amanda. There, he meets seven single fathers in his neighborhood ranging from a musical coffee shop owner to a goth, and even Amanda’s attractive English teacher. True to its name, Dream Daddy’s world really does feel like a dream, as some issues like homophobia don’t exist within its endearing family interactions and cute dad dates.
“One thing I really liked about the game is that there’s a wholesome family element. The daughter seems to be really supportive, and all the other daddies also have children,” Northeastern University alumna ShanShan Guo said. “I really appreciated the wholesome family element because a lot of LGBTQ representation in shows and other media is negative. They often kill off queer characters, especially love interests. I’ve seen many shows where if there’s queer romance, one or both of them dies or gets punished. I think that’s just bad representation if it keeps happening again. Dream Daddy seems like a world where you can love who you want to love.”
In the visual novel, you can customize your character to look however you want using the “Build That Dad” feature. Character customization may not sound special on its own, but get this: the feature includes a binder customization option for all our transmasculine players out there. Sadly, we don’t see that every day, but this game makes it happen. As a dating simulator where gay relationships thrive in a cheerful environment, Dream Daddy pushes the movement for positive LGBTQ+ representation in games forward. To make your digital dad life even better, the game cracks plenty of cheesy dad jokes for good laughs.
7. Monster Prom (available on Steam, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and more)
Another LGBTQ+ visual novel dating sim, but make it supernatural and way raunchier. In Monster Prom, the player roleplays as a high schooler attending Spooky High during the most important time of the year. You guessed it: the prom season. The player can choose their own gender and pronouns as well as six different love interests for their prom dates. Of course, you won’t invite any ordinary prom date. If you ever fantasized about romancing a hot werewolf, vampire, mermaid or all three at once, you came to the right place.
With its orgies, drunken parties and sexual innuendos, this LGBTQ+ game does not hold back on the heat, really. If you want spice, you’ll find plenty in this dish. Not to mention, you can romance students in Monster Prom no matter what gender you identify as. Some characters also openly identify as non-binary or transexual. Its abundance of LGBTQ+ friendly content makes Monster Prom a must play for any appreciator of dating sims.
8. The Walking Dead Series (available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, iOS and more)
Finding love in a zombie apocalypse probably ranks low on most survivors’ priority list, but The Walking Dead’s bisexual protagonist Clementine still pulls it off. In this video game, the dead don’t die like they should. TellTale’s storyline follows Clementine and more survivors as they fight to survive among the deadly walkers, or what we call “zombies”. As a young girl growing up in an apocalypse, Clementine encounters life-threatening experiences that build her into a strong young woman capable of holding her own. With her quirks and badass moments, many players adore Clementine like an in-game daughter.
The first, second and third season don’t make Clementine’s bisexuality clear. However, The Walking Dead: The Final Season allows the player to choose between two other survivors, Louis or Violet, for Clementine to form a romantic relationship with. As a lead bisexual protagonist, Clementine offers much character depth and personality that goes way beyond her sexuality. As a fan-favorite among gamers, The Walking Dead puts forth inclusive LGBTQ+ representation and tells a tale that players won’t forget.
9. The Last of Us I, Left Behind (DLC) and II (available on PlayStation and Windows)
The Last of Us (TLOU) gives us a brutal story, unforgettable characters and realistic graphics that hit very close to our own world. While LGBTQ+ themes don’t play a huge role in TLOU I, later parts reveal that the deuteragonist, Ellie, identifies as lesbian. The game takes place in an apocalyptic America, where a mutant fungus outbreak has turned the majority of people into monsters called “the infected”. Our protagonist Joel, a seasoned hunter, must travel with Ellie across the country to find humanity’s last hope: a cure.
As you play, Joel and Ellie’s father-daughter relationship will make you question how far one should go for love. While the first game explores the strength of love in bringing people together, the second game focuses on how that same love can drive people to commit acts of hate and violence. We do need to warn you that in TLOU II, transphobia does occur as a part of the narrative. The game does not shy away from depicting darker themes of violence. Please take care of yourself as you play. As a narrative-driven series, The Last of Us brings us deeply complex queer characters that players remember for a long time.
10. Undertale (available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and more)
Putting aside Sans’ banger meme song, Undertale made waves in the gaming industry through its memorable gameplay and cast of characters. The story takes place after a war between monsters and humans that sealed monsters away forever. A young child named Frisk falls into the monsters’ kingdom dubbed the Underground. The player must explore the Underground, complete quests and battle monsters to progress through Undertale’s lore.
“One of the unique things I really liked about Undertale is that as the protagonist, you have two options: you could either be a Pacifist or go full Genocide. The game is really smart because every time you play through the entire game, there are certain characters who remember your past actions,” Huynh said. “If you play through your first time as a Pacifist, but go through the Genocide route the second, the characters remember that and make you feel guilty for going through that route. They know you’ve played through the world multiple times and remember everything, including when you kill their friends. The creator of Undertale, Toby Fox, was really smart for implementing that mechanism, and even did the music and everything in two and a half years. He created all of these details in the game that you wouldn’t expect all by himself.”
Your choices matter to which path you get. We’ll leave it up to you to discover what each path entails. The only thing we’ll spoil: the Pacifist route allows for some queer romance. Throughout the player’s journey, they will encounter several open LGBTQ+ characters like their own nonbinary hero, a bisexual schoolteacher and more. Most humans in Undertale use gender-neutral language. The protagonist can ask some characters out on dates, and characters can freely love each other without fearing homophobia. In a world where no one does a double take at anyone’s sexuality or gender identity, Undertale portrays queer characters with refreshing acceptance and normalcy.