Level up with these 20 super-fun LGBTQ+ video game characters & moments

Male gay couple having fun playing video game console at home, LGBTQ family concept
Photo: Shutterstock

Gaming is a huge industry — and like many huge industries, it’s becoming more and more queer-inclusive. Video games have begun including LGBTQ+ characters and moments in fun and surprising ways — while playing a game has always been fun, these queer aspects are bringing the experience to a whole new level.

Here are 20 of our favorite LGBTQ+ video game moments and characters that show that gaming is for everybody!

1. Vivian in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (2004/2024)

vivian lgbtq+ video game
Vivian and Shadow Mario face off against an imposter Mario

Vivian is one of the Three Shadows, a villain team in Paper Mario, but she later defects after her older sister, Beldam, keeps insulting her. In the original 2004 game, Vivian was sometimes depicted as transgender and sometimes not, but in the 2024 remake, her trans identity became an official part of the popular franchise’s canon.

2. Soldier 76 in Overwatch (2019)

Soldier 76 lgbtq+ video games
Soldier 76 is the most macho fighter in Overwatch, one of the biggest multiplayer first-person shooter games out there. In a short story published by the game developer, Blizzard, he’s revealed to be gay. The story is about Soldier 76 reminiscing about a man he loved, Vincent, and how they couldn’t make the relationship work, due to Soldier 76’s career.

3. Sims 4 letting players choose to make queer sims (2022)

The Sims 4, pronouns, asexual, sexual orientations, options
Electronic Arts
The Sims has always been a queer series. Since the beginning, all sims were functionally bisexual, and players could start romances between whichever characters they liked. In Sims 4, though, the developers added support for explicit sexual orientations — including asexuality! Players can also choose their Sims’ pronouns.

4. Gay Romance in Mass Effect 3 (2012)

mass effect 3 lgbtq+ video games
The game Mass Effect 3 lets you choose the gender of the main character, Commander Shepard. Not just that, but it lets you choose who, if anyone, Shepard hooks up with. This means you can have a gay or lesbian experience. It was controversial at the time, with many players complaining about the gay sex scene — despite the storyline being entirely optional.

5. Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator (2017)

Dating simulators have long been popular in Japan, but it’s only been in the last decade and change that they’ve become popular in the United States and elsewhere. Dream Daddy courts dad-lovers by allowing players to romance a number of hot dads all while raising your own daughter. There are seven dads to choose from, each with their own unique endings.

6. Krem in Dragon Age: Inquisition (2014)

Krem in Dragon Age: Inquisition is canonically trans. He cracks jokes about binding and opens up about being assigned female at birth. One of the other characters is sure to correct you if you misgender Krem.

7. C.J. and Flick in Animal Crossing: New Horizons (2020)

Nintendo’s “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” Nintendo Switch screen capture
C.J. is one of Nintendo’s first gay characters, appearing in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. He repeatedly talks about his “partner” Flick, who doesn’t actually appear in the game. There’s also a reference to a lesbian couple in a “romantic comedy.”

8. Mediterranea Inferno (2023)

mediterranea inferno lgbtq+ video game
Santa Ragione
Mediterranea Inferno is an indie game available on Steam and consoles. It’s a visual novel about three queer young men on vacation in the south of Italy. While having fun, they meet up with a mysterious figure who offers them “the fruit of the mirages,” which gives those who eat it hallucinations of their greatest fears and desires.

9. Gamers figure out how an AIDS enzyme works (2011)

foldit lgbtq+ video games
University of Washington, Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering
This is a bit of a weird one — no gay characters or hookups here. But Foldit has done something legitimately important. It’s a puzzle game about folding proteins, based on real life. Gamers playing the game were finally able to figure out how a particular AIDS enzyme works, something that had stumped scientists for a decade. Foldit is still available, with puzzles based on other proteins that scientists need help with.

10. Caper in the Castro (1989)

Caper in the Castro lgbtq+ video game
C.M. Ralph
Caper in the Castro is the first known LGBTQ+ video game. It’s a point-and-click adventure by C.M. Ralph, about a lesbian detective investigating the kidnapping of her trans friend. The detective uncovers an evil plan to wipe out the entire gay community. It’s playable for free on the Internet Archive for those curious about this piece of queer history.

11. Spider-Man Celebrates Pride (2018)

Spider-Man Insomniac/Marvel
Marvel’s Spider-Man has always weaved his web in a real-world city — namely, New York City. In the 2018 video game version, Spidey’s world reflects ours more closely. When Spider-Man visits New York’s West Village, it’s covered with Pride flags and rainbows, just like the real place. And true to Spidey’s day job as a photographer for the Daily Bugle, you can pose and take great pics in front of the flags!

12. Goodbye Volcano High (2023)

goodbye volcano high lgbtq+ video games

In Goodbye Volcano High, you explore the story of Fang, a non-binary dinosaur in high school. High school is stressful enough, but even worse, in this game, the extinction event that kills all the dinosaurs is right around the corner.

13. Cyberpunk 2077 (2020)

cyberpunk 2077 lgbtq+ video games
CD Projekt RED
Cyberpunk 2077 is an open-world game where players can customize nearly every bit of themselves, including their gender, genitalia, and sexuality. The game faced some controversy, with some queer activists accusing it of using LGBTQ+ issues as window-dressing for edginess, but others supported the game’s take on queerness.

14. Newfound Courage (2018)

lgbtq+ video games newfound courage
Curtis Campion/Cafe Empty Games
Newfound Courage was made by its designer, Curtis Campion, because so few games feature an openly gay protagonist. While things are getting better, queer protagonists are still in the minority. This game is a three-part adventure about a teen who becomes estranged from his sister after coming out.

15. Coming Out on Top (2017)

coming out on top lgbtq+ video game
Coming Out on Top is one of the more explicit games on this list, but it’s also got a strong following of fans who love its gameplay and well-written dialogue. The game is another dating simulator, where you can hook up with a number of dudes, including a construction worker, a cop trying to entrap you, or a closeted pop star.

16. Tell Me Why (2020)

Tell Me Why is a story about transgender man Tyler and his twin sister Alyson trying to figure out the truth of their mother’s death. They also have to sell their childhood home in a conservative small Alaskan town.

17. Birdo in Super Mario Bros. 2 (1988)

Birdo LGBTQ+ video game
Birdo is often considered the first transgender character in video games. The manual described the character thus: “He thinks he is a girl and he spits eggs from his mouth. He’d rather be called ‘Birdetta.'” (It was 1988, so, please forgive the misgendering.) In modern games, Birdo has generally been accepted as female, and is more of a neutral character than a villain.

18. Life Is Strange (2015)

The Life Is Strange series of games all feature loads of gay characters. The series is about teens whose supernatural abilities get in the way of dealing with normal teen angst-type stuff, plus bigger problems, like murder mysteries and fleeing the police. Geez, being a teen sure is tough.

19. Sayonara Wild Hearts (2019)

The “pop album video game” Sayonara Wild Hearts is a rhythm game about a woman who becomes a magical girl following a breakup. The score is by Daniel Olsén and Jonathan Eng.

20. Yearning: A Gay Story (2019)

Yearning lgbtq+ video games
Bob C Games
Yearning: A Gay Story is a sprawling visual novel about a gay man starting his freshman year of college in the Midwest. There are at least four datable players in the first game, and it can take several hours per playthrough. There are also many other games in the same universe for players who don’t want to leave the new friends they’ve made.

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