Players rarely see LGBT content in mainstream titles. Slowly but steadily, inclusivity trickles in. But the small-scale gaming scene is already there — filled to the brim with queer content.
One such game is “Coming Out On Top” (or COOT for short), a gay dating sim about a college senior who has just come out of the closet. There are about 18 different characters that the player can date.
“I created COOT due to not seeing anything like it at the time,” said Abby Lee, game creator. “The project was started back in 2012, before the recent explosion of indie games on the scene. Games where you could play a man dating another man were few and far between.”
Lee launched a Kickstarter for COOT in 2012, and received an overwhelming response. Over 1,100 supporters donated $38,601 dollars to bring the game to life.
“The whole thing is a light-hearted romp that will hopefully make you chuckle.”
Luke Miller, creator of “My Ex-Boyfriend the Space Tyrant,” was also motivated to blossom an LGBT game in a market less touched.
“I made Space Tyrant because I wanted to see a game with an unapologetically gay lead character, something that is still all too rare,” he said. “A lot of the time when games include gay people it is very mainstream representation with 'normal' people who happen to be same-sex attracted. That's fine and it's always great to see! I just sometimes want to see queer culture represented as well.”
And Miller took the sequel to a whole new level.
“I made the sequel ‘Escape from Pleasure Planet’ because there was a lot more I felt I could do with in a gay game - a gay villain, dealing with conversion therapy, the plight of LGBT people in Russia, and the queer politics of same sex marriage and respectability, “he said. “Playing my games, I hope people enjoy the surprises and twists as a queer sensibility allows us to go places that other games fear to tread.”
But not all LGBT-themed indie titles keep sexuality at the forefront. There are also games like “2064: Read Only,” a cyberpunk narrative-based adventure game produced by Midboss.
The game inclusively presents a future in which LGBT characters are on equal ground as heterosexuals without facing as much discrimination. The player can also select their own pronouns, including “he,” “she”, “they,” “xe,” “ze” or custom.
“Instead of waiting for Sony and other big companies to include gay characters in their games as more than just tokens, we should just do it ourselves,” creator Matt Conn told Gamasutra. “There’s no reason to wait.”
Conn originally had hesitation for the future of his game because of the LGBT themes.
“If the campaign ends up failing or the product isn’t very good, I just worry that’s going to send a really bad message. That there’s no market for this, or that the market for ‘gay games’ is pretty much limited to sexually explicit stuff. And not that there’s anything wrong with porn games, but there needs to be more. We need to just exist.”
Fortunately for Conn, the Kickstarter was a success. The project raised $64,378 on Kickstarter in just a month — proving that there is a market for “gay games.”