LGBT representation is changing slowly in Bollywood, giving queer movie lovers a more authentic experience and a welcome break from seeing gay characters used for insensitive comic relief. The last few years have also seen India’s gaymer community find characters and storylines they can relate to in the build-up to the second Gayming Awards presented by Twitch.
This is a far cry from the dark days of 2014, when video game company EA withdrew Dragon Age: Inquisition from the Indian market due to what it called a breach of local content laws. The question, then, is which games should India’s gay gaming community turn to if they want to see characters and enjoy storylines that reflect their reality in a positive light?
Life Is Strange
Developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Square Enix, the critically acclaimed Life Is Strange is well-known for the ground-breaking lesbian love story it portrays and the many adventures it offers gaymers. Max might be the central character, but the LGBT community can’t get enough of Chloe Price. The character’s blue hair and tattoos give her what some gamers might consider an edgy appearance, but her life story shows players her vulnerable side.
Indian gaymers who enjoy turn-based tactical role-playing games have solid LGBT representation in Ikenfell. Developed by Happy Ray Games and published by Humble Games, the game’s entire cast of magical students is LGBT. Neo-pronouns are in plentiful supply while negative stereotypes and tropes are refreshingly absent.
The plot centers on a non-magical character who journeys to the magical school Ikenfell to investigate the disappearance of her witch sister. In between combat, players see characters deal with experiences such as love, grief, and being true to yourself.
Assassins Creed: Odyssey
Ubisoft’s Assassins Creed: Odyssey was developed by an international team of people with different genders, sexual orientations, and backgrounds. That diversity is reflected in a few important ways in the game. For example, Indian gaymers can choose their character’s gender and love interests. While there are DLCs that make it impossible to avoid heterosexual couplings, players may spot a queer mascot in the form of a unicorn that produces a rainbow trail.
If players think that Assassins Creed: Odyssey has echoes of the hugely popular Final Fantasy video game series, they shouldn’t be too surprised. Ubisoft Toronto creative director Maxime Beland said Final Fantasy has been a major influence on him. The smash-hit Final Fantasy 7 Remake was incredibly inclusive in depicting LGBTQ+ themes and identities, and Beland was inspired to follow the same path.
An award-winning roguelike action dungeon crawler, Supergiant Games’ Hades gives players control of Zagreus, who must hack and slash his way through enemies to escape the Underworld and ascend Mount Olympus. Zagreus, the son of Hades, is not only bisexual – he’s also polyamorous. In addition to the main character’s sexual identity, players can explore the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus in a side narrative.
Other video games that should appeal to India’s gaymer community include Tell Me Why and If Found, both of which feature trans characters. With so much representation that breaks free of stereotypes, queer Indians don’t need to worry about trying to get their hands on Dragon Age: Inquisition, which, after all these years, still isn’t available in the country.