Sometimes it's hard living in a world where we haven't quite gotten to where we should be in terms of open-mindedness, understanding, and overall humanity. It can feel like with each step forward there is always some pushback. The memory I have of the outrage toward the Asari in Mass Effect is something I will never forget and it was just a PG-13 romance. But as time goes on we have more LGBTQ+ characters being written into games, and not just coding errors developers never fixed. Full-fledged, fleshed-out characters who have strong personalities and backstories we can connect with and here are some of the ones we find most intriguing.
Ellie is a brave and courageous 14-year-old girl who's been raised in a boarding school run by the military on quarantine zone grounds. We learn of her strong character and caring personality in The Last of Us, but it isn't until we have the flashback of Left Behind that we truly see the depth of who Ellie is and what drives her. I can't wait to see how she grows in The Last of Us 2.
With the largest cast of Gay and Bisexual characters I have seen yet, it is hard to pick a favorite from Dragon Age: Inquisition. Ultimately, the honor goes to Dorian; a witty and playful character, Dorian is sharp and fun to chat with no matter the PC's gender. Gaining Dorians loyalty and learning of his past held some of the most emotional moments for me in this game.
Not everybody's cup of tea, Chloe is fearless and sharp-tongued. And stubborn as an ox to boot, she gets what she puts her mind to. However, like with many coming of age stories, this is simply what she shows to the world. Chloe is quite vulnerable when it comes to her sense of self which makes for a character I think we can all identify with from some point in our lives.
Lena Oxton, aka Tracer, is one of the members of Overwatch. This being an FPS team game, we don't really get to see who Tracer is as a character in-game beyond her peppy snappy quips. It's through Blizzard's use of CG shorts and comic books that we really get to learn more about this tenacious fighter and her dedication to her loved ones and her cause.
Jaal wasn't originally written as being bisexual and thus almost didn't make this list... but there was such player demand for Jaal to be romanceable by male characters as well that BioWare allowed it in an official update. Jaal is one of those characters who is cautious at first meeting and very questioning. As the story progresses and you befriend Jaal, he begins to open up and we see just how sensitive, caring and emotionally driven he is.
Sam and Lonnie
We never actually meet Sam or Lonnie in Gone Home. This story follows Katie Greenbriar after she returns home from overseas. It is through Katie's eyes that we learn about her family's lives while she was gone and in a way, this makes the notes and clues we pick up about Sam all that more powerful. It's those emotional connections we build without the aid of dialog that makes it such a powerful game.
A return to DA:Inquisition; I couldn't make this list without Krem. Although raised as a girl, Krem knew he was different than other girls and after certain events unfolded in his life, Krem decided to join the army. As women's roles in the Tevinter military are heavily restricted he hid his gender successfully for a number of years before discovery led him to run. Suffice to say, this is one tough and driven character.
Keep them coming, devs!
Even in writing this list I was reminded that as we are slowly expanding the list of LGBTQ+ characters in games, there are far more gay female characters to male. For every three strong female characters like Ellie in The Last of Us, there is only one male who isn't portrayed poorly. Fewer if they hadn't agreed to make Jaal bisexual after the fact in Mass Effect: Andromeda.
However, Dragon Age: Inquisition is a breath of fresh air and earns the award for having the most diverse group of characters I have seen. None of whom feel weak on story. Even the older Dragon Age games had some characters that would have made the cut if not for the fact they were never remastered for PS4.
Here is to hoping we continue moving in the right direction both in our games and in our lives. Happy Pride.
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