Our 10 Favorite LGBTQ Games Featuring Gender and Sexual Inclusivity
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Gaming culture has really taken off over the past decade, bolstered by platforms like Twitch and the growing popularity of esports. Video games are finally being taken seriously as a legitimate form of art, lauded for design, acting and narrative. As the demand for games increases, so does the demand for more inclusive characters and storytelling, which has given gamers a plethora of LGBTQ games to choose from.
We’ve rounded up 10 of the best LGBTQ games (including visual novels and text-based games) that feature inclusive gender expression and sexuality:
1. Hashihime of the Old Book Town
This boys’ love (BL) visual novel is a murder mystery that takes place in 1920s Tokyo. Developed by indie developer ADELTA, you play as Tamamori, who lives and works at a used book store. When a close friend dies, Tamamori realizes he can travel back in time three days — and maybe save his friend’s life. As Tamamori you also get to develop relationships and have sex with men. Hashihime of the Old Book Town’s overall rating on Steam is “Very Positive,” and one reviewer called it “a beautiful mix of murder mystery, fantasy, horror, and anime-like comedy.”
2. Night in the Woods
Perfect for the autumn season, Night in the Woods is an adventure game with truly loveable characters and a spooky vibe. You play as pansexual Mae Borowski, a college dropout who has just returned home to find that nothing is quite as it used to be. This standout among LGBTQ games also includes a same-sex couple and non-binary God and is a five-time award winner.
3. We Know the Devil
This horror visual novel is about fighting the actual devil at summer camp and features an incredible ’80s synth pop soundtrack. It explores coming of age, queer identities and religious trauma through well-developed and complex characters. One reviewer said: “If I wasn’t already gay and trans this would have made me gay and trans. It DID make me cry though.” Another said: “We Know The Devil is a story about three bad kids who are only bad because the world tells them that they are. It’s a story about identity and friendship and queerness and love, and feeling alone and left out. It’s about wanting to be good, but not being able to because the world is cruel.”
Supergiant’s masterpiece won, like, every single “Game of the Year” award and has a metacritic score of 93. Though the roguelike genre is pretty divisive, Hades has revamped classic gameplay into something much less … tedious. It also features a full cast of LGBTQ characters including Achilles and Patroclus, the non-binary Chaos, and the bisexual protagonist Zagreus. As Zagreus (son of Hades), you’re able to romance either Megaera and Thanatos — or both — by talking to them and giving them gifts.
This text-based choose your own adventure game throws you into an alternate medieval history with mech-like war machines. Gameplay consists of making thoughtful and strategic decisions while meeting historical figures, governing a fiefdom and partaking in romance — all without visuals. When you customize your character, you can choose your gender (male, female, non-binary) and sexual orientation (gay, straight, bi or asexual).
6. Boyfriend Dungeon
This Kickstarter-backed game is half-dungeon crawl and half-dating sim. Your potential love interests are weapons who transform into cute, single babes who are available to be taken on romantic outings. As in other LGBTQ games, you get to choose your gender at the start, and your romance options include men, women, and non-binary folks. You can also choose to romance them all — picking one weapon doesn’t preclude you from picking others. One reviewer said: “Boyfriend Dungeon is the perfect combo of thirsty and thoughtful. (10/10)”
7. AI: The Somnium Files
AI: The Somnium Files is neo-noir, sci-fi, and thriller mixed into one compelling murder mystery. Playing as Detective Kaname Date, your job is to talk to suspects, gather clues and investigate crime scenes. Although the LGBTQ+ inclusive portion of this game isn’t a central point, mentions of the queer community and two male NPCs who are in a relationship make for a rich and realistic backdrop. The user reviews on Steam are “Very Positive.”
8. The Red Strings Club
Featuring a pixelated cyberpunk narrative, The Red Strings Club includes two main, playable male protagonists who are in a relationship with one another as well as several queer NPCs and a non-binary android. The characters are thoughtful and well-written and the themes of identity, fate and manipulation are compelling. During development, the game’s composer Paula Ruiz came out as trans, which helped shape some of the game’s narrative.
9. Heirs And Graces
Another boys’ love dating sim with gorgeous graphics and a nobility theme. As Marcel your aim is to be a worthy heir to your estranged father … and pick one of four male romantic partners. One reviewer said Heirs and Graces had a “well-written, intriguing story and pleasantly developed characters.”
10. Stardew Valley
We’ve recommended this before, but Stardew Valley is truly one of the most delightful games of the last 10 years. It’s been called “rich and heartwarming” by reviewers for good reason! Everything about this gaming experience is relaxing, pure-hearted and pleasant; and while you maintain your farm, make money, explore caves and befriend townspeople, you can also romance a member of your community in either a straight or queer relationship.