VIDEO GAY-MER | Butterfly Soup is the Fun Portrayal of Queer Teendom We All Need

It's so hard to find queer games that are not only accurate portrayals of gay teens, but are also hella fun. This is one of them.

Oh man.

Not going to lie guys, I'm kicking myself in the head for not getting to this title sooner. Most of you have probably heard of Brianna Lei's Butterfly Soup, a visual novel that took the gaming world by storm last year. For those that haven't, it's about four queer Asian-American teens attending their first year of high school in California.

It's astounding writing, characters, and overall depiction of Asian American queer teens have led to other sites like Polygon, PC Gamer, and Kotaku calling it a stand out game of the year. And, after playing through most of it, I can see why.

Listen. I don't like visual novels half the time. Even something like Dream Daddy, which I loved, gets incredibly boring. I suffer through them, because it's where a lot of queer content gets produced It's not because they're bad, I just have a specific taste and I don't want to spend three or four or ten hours just reading text on a screen. But, I was happy to do it with Butterfly Soup, because it's just so fun.

And that should be a given, right? Dream Daddy was fun, wasn't it? And so was Gone Home (which isn't necessarily a visual novel, but close enough)? And Life is Strange (which also isn't necessarily a visual novel, but again, close enough)? That's true, but I think what separates Butterfly Soup from them is that has a sense of honesty without taking away the humor and light-heartedness at all and making it either super campy or super depressing.

As much as I love Gone Home, it focused a lot on the negative experiences of queer youth. You hear a lot about how it's main character struggled with both her identity and helping her partner. While this is a very honest representation of what a lot of young gay folks through - it's not the only experience that we have.

We have a community and we have a lot of queer friends, and often times we surround ourselves with other queer people. That's what happens during the entirety of this game. You are dropped in on the life of a young queer girl and her other queer friends. You see how they interact, and how they find love - and while it does have moments that can be on the serious side - it never gets sad or weepy. We never see these characters go on long monologues about how they can't accept themselves and how they'll never be happy.

This is accomplished through Lei's decision to give the player no control over the story. You occasionally get a few dialogue options, but in the end, you see what Lei wants you to see. You are on a guided tour of the story - not a participant in it. So, you aren't mired in finding extra stuff here or there (although, there are some extra observations you can make when prompted). So, while I did find myself getting bored, Lei managed to reel me back in with some pretty choice story-telling techniques that even AAA titles can learn from.

Throughout the game, you are treated to flashbacks, which show the four main characters' friendship through the years, instead of just one specific point of time. Each one makes the characters more dynamic and provides and insight that informs previous scenes. It's not disjointed and it's all connected.

And aside from the main cast, we are treated to actual diverse characters of different races and sexualities. You have people of color, you have a trans character, bisexual characters - and even if they aren't big, they're still real. Even in a lot of queer-themed visual novels, you usually only get a lesbian or a gay man's story - and while this story does focus mainly on a relationship between two women - we still get a solid cast of fleshed out characters that are not exclusively gay and cisgender.

As I play through - I'm just smiling and relating. I don't feel sad and I don't feel that same sense of, "Man it's so hard being gay," that so much media gives me. That kind of media is important, we should always remember/be reminded of the struggle that people - especially young people - in the community deal with. But it's also important to show that it doesn't always have to be that way. It is possible to be young and happy - even if you're struggling, you can find people who loves and accepts you.

Butterfly Soup is a special game - it uses fun characters and brilliant storytelling to give you an honest and non-sad portrayal of a diverse group of young, queer women in a time where it's very difficult to be a young, queer woman. While it doesn't offer a huge variety in terms of gameplay, it weaves something that leaves you smiling and cheering and laughing.

Please, please, please go play it. You can get it for free right here - and make sure you leave Brianna Lei a damn good review when you're done.

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South Park: Fractured but Whole's surprisingly positive queer relationship

Who would have thought that a game based on the worst show ever would have a surprisingly sweet gay-centric side story.

So, listen...

I don't watch South Park. I will never watch South Park - and honestly, I don't think that my life will be missing out a lot from not watching South Park. My problems with the series and even the game which I am talking about today are endless. Do I take the show too seriously? Maybe. Yeah, I definitely do, but I have my reasons. Still, despite all of that I would be a liar if I said that Fractured but Whole managed to cover some pretty deep topics with a surprising amount of care - was it perfect? No. But there was definitely something there.

When I bought Fractured but Whole during this past Steam sale, I didn't expect to walk out of it with this odd amount of respect I now have. I expected to play a decent RPG with a mildly annoying amount of jokes - and it definitely delivered on that part. However, not having watched the show, I was surprised to learn that two central characters - Tweek and Craig (pictured below) - were dating and currently facing some relationship turbulence.

I proceeded with their quest line cautiously - after all, the few times I've encountered South Park, I was unimpressed (couch-cough Big Gay Al cough-cough Mr. Slave). In the beginning, you have to help Craig get his laptop back from Tweek, who requests their shared pet hamster in exchange. This struck me as funny and definitely reminiscent of the kids of childhood relationships that kids would have together. After you do this, you are given a note from their father - and you have to convince both of them to get some counseling.

They agree, but only if you go with them. After this, you have to go through the rest of the game before you can continue their storyline. It's very sweet, and I won't reveal too much more. I just kept waiting for the ball to drop and for it to take a gross turn. I kept expecting their relationship to be the butt of some sort of joke, or for their friends to make some sort of comment, but they seem to be okay. Even their parents are worried for their kids happiness - there's nothing mean spirited or offensive. You are just a friend helping out your two gay friends.

Of course, it wouldn't be South Park without that odd layer of creepiness. Craig's dad, whose name I didn't bother to learn, gives you a strange side quest of finding yaoi fan art of his son and Tweek throughout the town of South Park. It's not a huge part of the game, but there's something off about it. It may have been a throwback to the show, but it still really rubbed me the wrong way.

Luckily, the positive LGBTQ+ content in the game doesn't stop with Craig.

There's a pretty good bit in the game where you're able to decide your character - The New Kid's - sexuality and gender. It's played kind of like a joke, but it didn't really land and instead managed to be just a really good little section of the game. You basically pick both your gender and your sexuality through a slider. It only affects the game a little bit with dialogue options from your parents when they go home.

The best part is that every time you make a decision, a group of rednecks come up in a truck and you get to beat the crap out of them. It happens multiple times over the course of the game, and it never stops being satisfying. I don't know what Stone and Parker were thinking when they made this game, but honestly, they managed to make some parts of it cathartic. When you weren't beating up these red necks, you were playing as a character who could be a non binary pansexual.

Does it make up for the rest of the game? Not really. It's still South Park, and a lot of the other jokes tend to be more misguided and just plain unfunny. But I can say that these specifically queer moments manage to be a speck of gold in the mud - and at least added some limited enjoyment to my experience.

If you want my advice, just watch the YouTube compilations of Craig and Tweek's scenes in the game - you won't be sorry. Or if you really want to play, you can pick it up on any console. After all, we do need to support positive queer content. Even if it takes place in an annoying little mountain town.

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VIDEO GAY-MER | Can you believe Fallout was this ahead of the game?

How many of your faves can say that they had gay marriage in their franchise since '98?

Oh Fallout...

I have so many opinions about you - and not all of them are totally positive. Hell, some of them are just downright negative. But even I have to admit that you are an iconic franchise. You took the gaming world by storm, introduced the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. (strength, perception, endurance, charisma, agility, and luck) system, and provided a much needed escape from the fantastical fantasy worlds of other RPGs of the time (okay, Wasteland did it first). Your characters have always been interesting, your lore has always been a delightful mixture of zany and serious - you're a great franchise.

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ROLE PLAYGROUND | West of Loathing is a whole new can of beans...

Think Witcher III if Witcher III was an incredibly funny, stick-figure fantasy western.

I honestly don't know what this game is.

Asymmetric Production's West of Loathing is nothing if not unique - it's world is fresh and vibrant despite the stick figured, black-and-white design. It's characters manage to be simple, but real enough for you not to care. And it's story is like the large desert with which it takes place: A huge mystery, just waiting to be solved.

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VIDEO GAY-MER | What games are important to your queerness?

Queer gaming is very new, but that doesn't mean that we can't find a way to connect.

Everyone can name their first queer movie.

Mine was Beautiful Thing, a British made-for-TV film based on the play by Jonathan Harvey. I watched it in secret on Logo when I was twelve - and it made my little gay heart go pitter-pat, and really opened my eyes to how great (and sad, sometimes) being gay can be. A lot of people had this experience with their first queer movie - unless you watched something like Brokeback Mountain (in which case, I'm very sorry).

I don't know how to describe the feelings - it's a mixture of validation and giddy joy. It's a unique thing to minorities in the US - because most of the time we're not talked about. So, to see a movie that captures our experience is pretty amazing. And, despite the pickings being slim when it comes to video games, these kinds of experiences still happen. Whether we project onto a character, or we were lucky enough to start gaming when queer characters became a thing - we have felt that mixture of validation and giddy joy.


My first queer gaming experience was back in 2012 - I started gaming when I was about 9 years old. My first major game was Kingdom Hearts, and at that point in time, I had only been playing JRPGs. My cousin introduced me to Fallout 3 when I spent the summer at my grandma's house. My grandmother had no internet or cell service, so playing games and watching anime was all we could do (my cousin had a crap-ton of anime and games).

By the end of the summer, Fallout had taken over my life. It opened up a whole new world of video games for me, and I loved it for that. So, when Fallout New Vegas came around - I was ecstatic. Ultimately, though, I ended up disappointed, because the game was riddled with post-release bugs and my files got corrupted two different times. But not before I had my first ever queer gaming experience.

For those that haven't played the game, Fallout: New Vegas, much like Fallout 3 gives you the opportunity to gain "perks," which are in-game buffs to each character. They can do a lot - you can shoot rifles better, take more hits, etc. There's a special one called "Confirmed Bachelor," which allows you special dialogue options towards other men. I thought it was going to be like deadly options, because it also gave you a damage increase on male targets. Turns out that's wasn't the case.

Basically, this perk let you flirt with guys and succeed. It delighted me, and made the tumultuous experience that I'd had with game a little better. Every time I could use the perk's dialogue option, I did. And the guys, despite being video game characters, were all pretty attractive. It changed a lot of my perception about what kind of characters could be in a video game. I smiled for the rest of the day after I first used "Confirmed Bachelor."

It also made me hyper aware of the lack of this feeling in other games. It sparked this odd sense of boredom within me every time I played a game that lacked any sort of queer element. I rolled my eyes when I replayed Final Fantasy X and watched Tidus and Yuna fall in love. I got annoyed during my replay of Fallout 3, even.

I didn't hate these games. I still loved them very much, but I began noticing a pattern that repeated itself over and over again. And I needed some more spice to that same tired formula. So, while my first queer gaming experience was amazing - it also broke the glass in terms of the lack of content I was getting. My eyes were opened and I couldn't close them.

It's the same with queer movies - once your eyes are open, they want to see more. And unfortunately, you don't always get more. You just get the same or worse, none at all.

Luckily though, trends are changing - and I couldn't be happier.


I want to hear from you, the person reading this. What was your first or favorite queer experience in gaming? What opened your eyes to the beauty of representation in your desired medium? I want to hear about what moment you felt connected to a video game. It doesn't have to be 100% queer. Did you relate to a character? Did you see a storyline that resonated with your queer experience?

You can comment below, or you can even send a submission to my website!

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