Top 5 Games For Exploring Queer Identities

Experimentation is an important part of exploring yourself and figuring out an identity that works for you. But it can be difficult and scary to try that, especially if you’re not yet ready to show the world this important part of yourself. That’s where fantasy, and in particular, gaming, comes into play. Games can be a fun, low-stakes way to explore what feels right to you, pressure and commitment free. In this post, we’ll look at types of games perfect for exploring yourself, and what makes games so great for that.

1. Dress-up Games

For example: Picrew, The Sims, Animal Crossing, any game with an extensive character creation element

Creating and customising a character can be a great way to let your imagination run free. You can make an idealised version of yourself, or just try out different looks and styles on the characters and see what you like. You might even get a few ideas for clothes to try in real life, or a hairstyle you love. The great thing is it’s a whole lot cheaper than buying a bunch of clothes (Picrew dress up games are free even!) and if you don’t like something, just change it with a click.

2. Simulation Games

For example: The Sims, Stardew Valley

Games that allow you to play as various characters and pursue relationships with other characters can be a lot of fun, and let you play around with the sort of relationships you find interesting and fulfilling. Stardew Valley is a very popular life / farm / dating simulator where you play as a newcomer in town with all 12 romanceable characters available regardless of the gender of the player character.

The Sims was one of the first games to introduce same-sex relationships for characters (though originally it was by accident!) and since any Sim can romance any other Sim of the right age, basically all Sims are bisexual. The Sims 4 also includes options for determining things like ‘can this Sim get pregnant?’ and ‘Can this Sim use the bathroom standing up?’ which allow you to create transgender or genderqueer Sims.

You can read the story of the accidental lesbian Sims kiss that made video game history here.

3. Visual Novels / Dating Sims

For example: Dream Daddy Dating Sim, Later Daters, Monster Prom

If you want a game that’s even more focused on relationships, good news! Dating Sims exist. These games are usually a visual novel style game where you make choices and pursue relationships with different characters to get different endings, and then you can replay the game to get a different ending. LGBTQ+ inclusive dating sims are on the rise, as are dating sims with a whacky premise (game where you date pigeons, anyone?) and dating sims specifically about LGBTQ+ themes

Dream Daddy Dating Sim is a game about playing as a gay single father dating other single fathers in the area, while Later Daters is set in a care home for the elderly and allows for queer and poly relationships (as well as nonbinary protagonists and transgender characters who talk about their experiences.)

Playing these sorts of games can give you an opportunity to think about what relationships appeal to you.

gay couple walking along cliffs holding hands

4. Tabletop Roleplaying Games

For example: Dungeons and Dragons, Monsterhearts, Thirsty Sword Lesbians

When most people hear ‘Tabletop Roleplaying Games’ (TTRPGs) they probably think Dungeons & Dragons. What a lot of people don’t know is there’s a whole load of other TTRPGs for every genre, and TTRPGs can be amazing for figuring out stuff about yourself.

While the official parts of D&D are pretty scant on LGBTQ+ content, there’s nothing stopping you playing as queer characters and roleplaying as different identities can really help you work out what feels good to you.

You can even play games that are more specifically focused on queerness and interpersonal relationships, such as Monsterhearts (a Buffy The Vampire Slayer style game about messy romance between teens who are also monsters) or the incredibly named Thirsty Sword Lesbians (a game about being queer people with big swords, inspired by the like of She-Ra And The Princesses of Power.)

Roleplaying as someone else can end up revealing a lot about yourself to you, and if you’re having fun with friends at the same time then all the better!

5. Games with Queer Characters

For example: Later Daters, Celeste, One Night Hot Spring

Finally, playing games with officially queer characters, especially games that deal explicitly with the subject, can be really beneficial. It can help you think about the characters’ stories and how they relate to you, or just make you feel good that finally media is starting to catch up to real life! Seeing people like yourself is really powerful, and the increase in LGBTQ+ characters in games is only going to improve more people’s lives.

pink retro gaming arcade. image by @pua_photos on unsplash

As you can see, there are many types of games that can help you explore yourself and your identity, but this article is just a brief look. You shouldn’t force yourself to play games you don’t enjoy just because there are queer characters or you think it will give you answers. Instead, think about the kinds of games you already enjoy, and see if those help you, or even search out similar games that do have LGBTQ+ content. Figuring yourself out can be scary and stressful, but the most important thing when it comes to games is having fun. Anything else is just a sweet extra.

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Also, check out our new podcast Never Would’ve Guest, now available wherever you get your podcasts! In episode one, we discuss what happens when butchness and disability intersect. You can listen to Episode 1 and read the transcript here.