Local dads near you
Sure the goose in Untitled Goose Game has a chaotic gay energy, but sometimes we just crave some explicit references rather than having to imagine that characters are queer. So, I’ve played and compiled a handful of indie games with queer content for all the gaymers out there. Social distancing has been a rough time for lots of LGBTQIA+ people, who are unable to access queer communities that can be so vital to their wellbeing, so if you’re not a regular gamer, then this is also your chance to try losing yourself in some queer digital worlds.
Perfect for those who want a more chilled gaming experience, new and pro gamers alike, is Gone Home. This is an intimate, unnerving game about slowly discovering what happened in your empty family home after you return from a trip. The plot revolves around young queer women, with a brilliant story and a big emotional heart. Also about a woman returning home to strange changes and a disappearance, Night in the Woods is a quirky, funny adventure game with a great design and some loveable LGBTQIA+ animal characters.
Next up, Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator. Yes, you read that right. This visual novel game follows you – a single father – meeting and dating local dads. There are minigames and your dates are scored, but it’s largely dad-puns, meet-cutes, and sweet father-daughter moments. I laughed out loud throughout and got overly attached to most of the dads. You can select whether you were married to a man or a woman, you can play as a trans dad, and there’s a trans dad that you can romance; we love to see such seamless inclusion. Warning: be ready to never be able to date IRL again, because no one will live up to these impossibly handsome and charming suburban fathers.
Are you tired of WhatsApp read receipts running your life? Emily is Away is a choices game where you chat to a girl you fancy on MSN. Simpler times. You choose your screenname, and it’s built to make sense with you playing whatever gender identity you’d like. Secret Little Haven similarly locates itself on retro online forums, where you play a trans girl chatting to friends and fellow superfans of her favourite show in 1999. There is some heavy emotional content (it has content warnings), but an overarching positive angle.
Robert Yang has created a handful of political erotic minigames which are remarkable interactive experiences that got me thinking about queer history (The Tearoom) and consent (Hurt Me Plenty). 18+ and NSFW.
Are games always this hard?
Do you miss going to gay clubs and flirting with the bartenders to get information on secret agents who are involved in the Cold War? Well luckily there’s All Walls Must Fall. Set in 2089 Berlin where the Cold War never ended, this tech-noir tactics game sees you navigate clubs and dodge baddies to a thumping beat with fun tactical encounters and time travel. Also noir – but this time “Aussie stoner noir” – play a hungover Koala detective searching for his kidnapped male lover in Stone.
Celeste isn’t explicitly queer, but I’d heard trans people hyping it as an allegory for trans experiences which I recognise having played it with this in mind, and it has a very talented non-binary lead creator. This is a fantastic platform game where you play Madeline, who undergoes a difficult voyage up a mysterious mountain. It’s challenging but rewarding, with complex characters and a gripping story.
It’s so exciting to see indie games incorporating queerness in a range of ways, but there’s definitely not the plentiful choices that we want, and a definite lack of characters of certain identities. Let’s hope that developers realise that including queer options and stories only increases audiences, and makes a huge difference to LGBTQIA+ gamers.