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Underappreciated LGBT Characters in Gaming

by Katrel
Features, Games and Gaming

Sure, everyone knows about the LGBT characters who get all of the attention, like Tony Prince from The Ballad of Gay Tony, Zevran from Dragon Age, and a large percentage of the female Commanders Shepard from Mass Effect. But what about the lesser known gay characters in gaming?  These characters’ moment in the spotlight is long overdue, and it’s time for them to get a moment of recognition.

Wade and Herren

Wade and Herren

In a game like Dragon Age, it’s easy to overlook Wade and Herren, the couple that runs the smithy in Denerim. After all, Dragon Age is a game with not one, but two bisexual party members, and is easily one of the most gay-friendly mainstream games out there. However, Wade and Herren are certainly worth noting, and not just because they have some of the funniest dialogue in the game. The game itself never explicitly mentions that Wade and Herren are a couple, but their dialogue sounds like the bickering of a married couple.  This led to player speculation about their sexuality, and the creators of Dragon Age confirmed that Wade and Herren are indeed a couple. However, what is interesting about Wade and Herren is that their sexuality is not plot-relevant in the slightest. The same bickering dialogue could have been written for a heterosexual married couple, and it would have had no serious effect on the game. However, the creators of the game decided to make them a gay couple anyway, because it makes sense that in a land as vast as Ferelden, some of the NPCs that you interact with would be gay.

Kanji Tatsumi

Kanji TatsumiKanji is a character from Persona 4, and his main character arc involves him coming to terms with his sexuality. When the characters first see Kanji, he is portrayed as a very aggressive person, with overly macho tendencies. However, when they later see the manifestation of his “inner, hidden self,” it is portrayed as a flamboyant gay stereotype, who states that he prefers men. Later, one explanation given is that this manifestation was caused by Kanji worrying whether or not having un-manly interests (like sewing) meant that he might be gay.

Kanji’s character arc concludes with him realizing that it’s okay to be who he really is. The game leaves it up to the player to decide whether Kanji is admitting that he is gay (or bisexual), or whether he is admitting to himself that liking feminine things does not make him any less of a man. Personally, I think that the former explanation makes more sense, given the rest of his interactions, which is why he’s included on this list. However, whichever interpretation you choose, his character arc is a well-written story of someone trying to come to terms with his own identity.

Tony from Earthbound

Earthbound, the cult classic RPG for the Super Nintendo had a gay non-player character named Tony. This is especially impressive when you consider how strict Nintendo’s censorship policies were at the time. However, Tony slipped under the radar, because there were no overt references to his sexuality. The only references to his sexuality in game are the fact that he seems to have a small crush on his friend and roommate Jeff, one of the characters who joins your party.  In fact, the references are subtle enough that Tony’s sexuality was only confirmed during an interview with the creator of Earthbound. However, he deserves credit for being a positive (and endearing) gay character at a time when that was practically unthinkable in video games.

Telsia Murphy and Alexandria Munro

In Star Trek: Elite Force, the Star Trek first-person shooter, the player can choose whether the main character is male or female. No matter what is chosen, the dialogue always refers to “Alex Munro” — the choice just determines whether Alex is short for Alexander or Alexandria. It was a fairly clever way to reuse the dialogue while still giving the character a full name. However, because of all of this dialogue reuse, if the main character is female, female crewmate Telsia Murphy will still flirt with her, and the two will pursue a same-sex relationship.  This is especially notable as it appears in a Star Trek game, even though the Star Trek franchise that has long avoided having any LGBT characters.

Parappa

Okay, I know that this one is a bit of a stretch, and I freely admit that, but hear me out anyway. In PaRappa the Rapper 2, during the song “Romantic Love,” Parappa kisses his friend PJ.  Although PJ looks a bit uncomfortable at this, Parappa seems to have no problem with it. Now, I know that one guy kissing another guy doesn’t necessarily mean that he is bisexual, and it’s possible that Parappa is just being very dedicated to following the words of his rap. However, I wanted a cartoony mascot character for this list, and I think that Parappa is a better choice than Birdo. Besides, it was a discussion about Parappa that sparked the idea for this list in the first place, so it only seems fair that he gets included.

Katrel

has written 6 FGEC articles.

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6 thoughts on “Underappreciated LGBT Characters in Gaming

  1. It’s clear from reading the wikipedia page on LGBT Characters that the Fallout and Fable series and pretty much anything Bioware’s made are really holding down the fort for LGBT characters. I get why it’s much safer to put LGBT characters in an RPG, because it’s more of a “choose your own adventure” deal, but it would be nice to see more like that in the areas of FPS and RTS games. Better writing for those genres in general would be great, actually, and with that hopefully would come a more fleshed out world with all kinds of inhabitants.

  2. Yeah, I’m surprised to see no Fallout on here, especially Fallout: NV. (SPOILER) I think Veronica and Arcade are both excellent examples of gay characters whose sexuality adds to and humanizes their personality rather than dominating it.

  3. Katrel says:

    I’ve never really played any of the Fallout games, so I wasn’t totally comfortable commenting on them, but I may have to pick up Fallout: NV and take a look.

  4. Well, I’m kind of biased. Those are my two favorite NPCs in all of New Vegas, not just among the ones that follow me around. I actually like Gannon most of all. Except, what’s up with that name?

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