In the world of queer gaming, we have to latch onto the canon queer couples that we're given.
We don't see a lot of them, and when we do, we love them with all of our hearts. Admittedly, half of the time one of them dies or they're barely there, but even then they matter a little bit. They matter much more than the queerbait-y, kind-of-sort-of-barely couples that we're given (coughcough Life is Strange coughcough).
It's hard to pick some, because you have the think about exactly what counts as "canon." Like, Life is Strange is not canon - it's hinted at and never followed through. Sorry, but that ending where you pick Chloe doesn't count. So, in the end, these are the main criteria for this small list:
1. They have to be a romance between two out characters.
2. Neither can die - because killing queer characters for pain is annoying. Queer people die/have died enough in real life.
3. If they are optional - then they have to be a romance-able option that affects your character.
4. If they are side characters, then they need to be a major driving force in the game.
And with that, here are a few of my favorite couples.
Gregg and Angus (Night in the Woods)
A couple of months back, I wrote about Night in the Woods and its important contribution to the queer gaming world. This little adventure/exploration game had some astounding representations of bisexuality and mental illness. But the heart of the game lies in the relationship between characters Angus and Gregg.
When I played through the game a second time, it floored me how layered these guys' relationship was. Mostly, you see this through Gregg. You hear him constantly talking about how he doesn't deserve Angus, because Angus is a really good guy. This is a typical trope in a lot of relationships in media, but it's not something you see in a lot of queer relationships.
Most of the time, it constantly revolves around the struggle with sexuality and coming to terms with that while being in a relationship. Both Angus and Gregg are very real gay characters in the sense that they don't have to deal with that. Sure, they both probably dealt with that separately - but by the time Night in the Woods starts, they're in a committed relationship. The only issue is Gregg's idea that he isn't good enough for his boyfriend, because he thinks he's trash.
And while that is sad, it's really great to see queer characters getting treated like real people with real problems.
Samantha and Lonnie (Gone Home)
Now, on the other end of the spectrum, we have Samantha and Lonnie from the queer classic, Gone Home! This couple has the odd distinction of never appearing on screen. We hear Samantha's voice, but we never interact with either her or Lonnie. Instead, we take the role of Katie, Samantha's sister, as she pieces together what happened in her home while she was away.
During your time, you figure out that Samantha had a hard time adjusting to life in her new high school. But, she finds solace in a girl named Yolanda, or Lonnie, and eventually they become romantically intertwined. However, when Katie and Sam's parents find out - Sam is forbidden to see Lonnie. And Lonnie finds out that she's about to ship out to join the army.
However, all is not lost, they do end up together. While it's tragic that Samantha had to suffer - what makes her and Lonnie's relationship so important is the power it gave Samantha. Not only did she get the courage to leave her home, but she found acceptance and love in someone. There was no suicide, there was no death or physical pain of any sort. And Samantha didn't let the tragedy of her parents' horrible parenting define her.
And while we never find out what Katie thinks of everything - I like to believe that she loves Sam and Lonnie just as much as I do.
The Sole Survivor and Preston
I know, I have a lot of negative opinions about Fallout 4 - but even I can't deny that they did right by us queer folk by including some amazing same-sex romancing options. My favorite of which has to be the goody two-shoes of the Commonwealth, Preston Garvey. I don't know what it is about this guy. Is it because he fights for the people of the Commonwealth with such tenacity? Or is it because he looks to you as a friend and a beacon of hope, not just for the people, but for himself?
What makes this relationship, and literally every queer relationship option in this game, is how important each character is to the game and unapologetically in love with you they are allowed to fall. Each character plays an important part in the story, or they have a specific side quest that has a pretty interesting story attached. Preston, for example, brings back an entire militia to defend the Commonwealth.
Preston is important, and his sexuality does not define him, but he is also never afraid to love you. There is never a moment where he's like, "But you're a man!" None of the characters are like that. They just fall in love with you - and that means so much! Doesn't it?
So, what did you think of my list? Did you agree? Did you not agree? Well, if you did, wonderful! If not, tell me why in the comments. Or, better yet, tell me what you think your list would be! I'd like to hear more from you guys.
Shann Smith is a lover of video games and writer of plays and screenplays, based in NYC. Do you guys have a game that you think is significant to the LGBTQ+ community? Email me, and I'll give it a look!
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