One of the more interesting things about video games is that there are simultaneously both more and less video games that have gay characters than you would expect. Once you realize that there are video games with gay characters (which, given the stereotypes about video games is surprising) then you realize there really is a limited number of them. But this list was one of the primary reasons I wanted to start this blog. There really aren’t any good lists outlining all those different games, they are all incomplete, outdated, or include things that shouldn’t be on there. Of course this list will hopefully be incomplete and outdated the moment I post it (It’s based on which games I have played, and even specifically seeking these video games out, there are still big gaps). Hopefully videogames featuring gay characters and story lines will start coming at an ever more rapid clip.
(Just as a note, this list will focus on gay men, for the other parts of the LGBT, I shall leave to people far more educated in their particular subject than I am).
An RPG set in fantasy world inspired by Chinese mythology, this game is essentially the prototype for Bioware’s style. It is sweeping in scope with lots of cute and interesting companion characters. It also features three characters to romance, a male and a female character that can fall in love with either gender and a third heterosexual female.
Dragon Age: Origins
This game is an extraordinarily dense RPG by Bioware, set in a medieval fantasy world. It is expansive and intelligent, with an emphasis on the player directing the outcomes of the all the nations effected by the game. It also includes two bisexual companions to romance, and two heterosexual. So, much like Jade Empire, there is only one possible male romantic partner (unless you use that mod to make Alistair gay, which of course I did).
Dragon Age II
The squeal to Dragon Age: Origins, it is a much darker game. While the original game was about overcoming opposition, this game is more interested in how people are buffeted around by fate, and how intractable opposition can march towards violence, even if no one truly wants it to. All the romantic options are bisexual, allowing the player to romance anyone, regardless of gender. Thus providing two possible male companions, both of whom have very deep and well written stories (Anders’s story actually is even better if the player is playing as a gay man). Oh, and Fenris is possibly the most sexy man in video games.
Mass Effect 3
Of course much has been written about the controversial ending to Bioware’s Sci-Fi RPG series, but vast majority of the game up to that ending is quite enjoyable. Including adding two possible male love interests for a male Sheppard. The original Mass Effect came up with a somewhat convoluted explanation to have a lesbian love story without actually including lesbians. And the sequel had three potential same-sex matches for a female Sheppard. It was only in the third one they were willing to include same-sex matches for a male Sheppard, including one character who could only be romanced by a male Sheppard. After three full games of waiting, the game really does deliver on the Kaidan romance (particularly if you get the “Citadel”DLC pack, which you should because it is better than the game itself).
Dragon Age: Inquisition
In between the previous Dragon Age game and this one, Game of Thrones became a cultural phenomena, and its influence is all over the game. It’s a very good game, and it is massively expansive, with a huge game map that has huge territories within it. While much of the game focuses on traditional battling, it also is quite willing to engage plotting focused on complex politics. There are two potential male romances, the Iron Bull, a massive bisexual Qunari and Dorian, a gay mage.
The Sims (all versions)
Famously, The Sims was not originally supposed to allow same sex relationships, however because a programmer got the wrong memo a demonstration copy of the game was used at a promotional event where two female Sims became interested in each other and kissed while the game was being presented. The rest, as they say, is history. You have, basically unlimited possibilities with The Sims, crafting their lives however you see fit.
This game is by Rockstar, the company responsible for Grand Theft Auto and the tragically underrated L.A. Noire. It scales it’s story telling down from the vast criminal underground of the Grand Theft Auto games, while still being fairly recognizably a Rockstar game. It is about one kid trying to take over all the different cliques in his high school. The game is fairly realistic in that homosexuality is stigmatized, but not particularly uncommon. The player can’t play Jimmy as gay, however he can easily be played as bisexual, kissing and flirting with other boys.
When videogames include gay content, it is always an option. That’s why this list is so dominated by RPGs. You can play Hawke from Dragon Age II as gay, but you don’t have to. As far as I know, Dreamfall Chapters is the only major game where the player character, Kian Alvane, is a gay man. The Dreamfall games all take place in two universes, one science-fiction and one high fantasy, with the player characters traveling between the two to save both. The games have always included minor LGBT characters, but it was quite the surprising revelation in Dreamfall Chapters that the renegade warrior fleeing his violent and questionable past was a gay man. A very welcome surprise.
Fallout: New Vegas
The previous Fallout games created an elaborate perk system, where a player earns advantages as he or she travels across the post-nuclear war wasteland of America in this RPG. Fallout:New Vegas has the best perk in the entire series with the “Confirmed Bachelor” perk, which gives an advantage in fights against men and allows you to flirt with male characters across the Mojave desert. Additionally one of your potential companions is a gay doctor where the easiest way to recruit him is to flirt with him.
Fallout 4, for reasons I will never understand, removed the “Confirmed Bachelor” perk. But wound up including a wide and varied romance system including men, women, and robots. While the romances aren’t as deep or essential to the game as the ones Bioware includes in their games, they are still fun and add to the game.
Lego Marvel’s Avengers
This is sort of a cheat. But I love Lego games and I love Marvel, so I am including it. Among the Marvel heroes you can play as in this game are Wiccan and Hulkling, Marvel’s most adorable gay couple (though not sexiest, that goes to Richter and Shatterstar). It doesn’t make up for the tragic removal of the X-Men and Fantastic Four from this sequel to Lego Marvel Superheroes, but it is so nice to see.
My Ex-Boyfriend the Space Tyrant
A classic point and click adventure game, this game is about the captain of a space ship attempting to discover just why his ex-boyfriend turned into, well, a space tyrant. It’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect from its title. It is filled to over flowing with puns (including a lot of visual puns) and double entendres.
Rebuild 3: Gangs of Deadsville
The Rebuild series is a pretty simple concept, the survivors of a zombie apocalypse attempt to rebuild their city. Normally the games involve recruiting a lot of survivors to fulfill the relatively simple goals of the game. Rebuild 3 placed greater importance upon the survivors as characters, including the player character. After rebuilding a few towns, the player is offered the option of going on a date with a member of either gender, starting a small romantic subplot.
A dating sim styled very clearly upon Japanese dating sims, it has the player attending college and navigating potential relationships with his or her roommates. The player can choose either a male or female student and then is allowed to pursue three opposite sex relationships and one same sex relationship. It is well written, with lots of funny dialogue and moments. And the best feature is that the player can opt out of any interaction, allowing him or her to skip anything that isn’t of particular interest.
Saints Row IV
Saints Row IV shouldn’t be as good as it is, let alone one of my absolute favorite games on this list. It’s so good. So very good. The Saints Row series started off as a knock off of Grand Theft Auto, and one that viewed satire as simply being more extreme than the original. But the third game took things to a deeply weird and silly place involving zombies and giant cats that host murderous Japanese game shows. And Saints Row IV took things even further. Inexplicably the gang leader of the Third Street Saints is the president of the United States and fighting aliens with super powers. The game is overflowing with parodies, including an extended parody of Mass Effect. As such, the game heavily entices the player to have sex with every member of the crew, regardless of their gender (including an androgynous robot).
The Walking Dead: Michonne
The third of TellTale’s excellent The Walking Dead series, this is the first game to really engage with Robert Kirkman’s comics. While the first game only briefly featured characters and locations from the comics, and the second was completely independent of them, this game is entirely about the central character Michonne. It also prominently features a gay couple that Michonne can save, let die, kill, convince to leave, ect. While not playable, as with the other examples on this list, it was a surprise to see, particularly how central they were to the game’s plot.
Fragments of Him
After a bisexual man dies in a car crash, his grandmother, ex-girlfriend, and boyfriend each try to work through their grief. It’s a dark and somber game with rudimentary graphics that seeks to replicate the fragility of the memories of those we have lost.
Coming Out on Top
Technically this is a pornographic gay dating simulator. But it feels reductive to label it as pornography, given how well written it is. Well written enough that the game’s creator sells a non-pornographic version of it. The story is fairly simple, a college student comes out of the closet his senior year and then has the option of dating various men he meets along the way. Variously cute and funny and charming and sexy and witty and emotional, it is actually a good candidate for best game on this list.