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Queer Space: video games must level up their representation of queer folks

By Alister E.

Now that video games are a significantly more mainstream art form, there is a much higher demand for representation of previously ignored groups. Despite queer people being more accepted now than any other time this century, we still have a long way to go, and modern media and art reflect that. While queerness is more represented than ever, it still has some serious problems. 

Take the piss-poor representation in Fire Emblem: Three Houses. The options for women-loving-women (W/W) relationships are actually quite solid, and work really well specifically for Edelgard, the main female character, but the male side is abysmal. Despite technically having three options for men-loving-men (M/M) relationships, which is already awfully low, only one is really a gay relationship, as the other two are more like lifetime companions without romantic feelings. While DLC would add two more M/M characters, that comes with its own host of problems, and still means the queer representation in this game is awful. Other than the previously mentioned Edelgard and a few others, none of the characters even imply they’re bisexual, and that’s because they’re not. They’re simply given a sam- sex relationship because the game needs to check a box, and thus, the characters are only bisexual for the player character, and never mention being into the same sex otherwise. This kind of representation, the characters’ queerness being treated as an afterthought or easter egg, is all too common in gaming, and we deserve a major improvement.

Asexuals also seriously lack representation. Even outside of gaming, it’s hard to name any asexual characters other than than Todd Chaves, Jughead Jones and Spongebob. Note that none of the listed characters originate in a video game. For casual gamers, it would be flat out impossible to name a confirmed asexual character originating from a video game, and even for someone much more into games like myself, I can only really mention Parvati from The Outer Worlds, and that’s a big problem. While there can be subtextual evidence suggesting a number of characters to be ace, the fact that very few, if any mainstream game even mentions the term, much less has a character in it claim to be asexual, shows that society at large still overlooks asexual people.

Because of society’s complete unwillingness to educate people about anything queer, it’s common for media and art to pick up the slack. If groups still go unrepresented even then, it becomes much harder for people who are part of that group to even understand what they are, and to belong. These feelings of not knowing a crucial aspect about yourself, or feeling isolated even when you find out, can do serious damage. I’ve been in both camps, and it’s suffocating. People don’t deserve to feel this way because they aren’t interested in sex with the “opposite gender.”

Hades is a game starring the confirmed bisexual Zagreus making his way out of the underworld. Along the way, you’ll meet a ton of hot Greek gods that will ruin anyone attracted to two dimensional characters, with Zagreus able to hook up with two of them: the fearsome whip-wielding Megara, and the literal god of death Thanatos. So not only do we have a hot bisexual sub in Zagreus, but, on top of that, he can also be in a polyamourous (or at least open) relationship with both Thanatos and Megara. Along with this, there are other characters that are queer as well, like Artemis being a lesbian. 

The best part is that it isn’t really an easter egg either. Unlike with Fire Emblem: Three Houses, where the queerness of the characters is only really an afterthought that actively has to be willed into the character by the player, Artemis will talk multiple times about her attraction to women without the player’s interaction, and doesn’t receive any flack for it. Zagreus can hook up with Meg and Thanatos and no one bats an eye. Zagreus even goes so far as to joke about him being a sub for Meg in one of the boss fights. Queer representation like this, where it’s an unignorable aspect of the character without being the entire character, and the player doesn’t have to fight to be allowed to be queer is what we need, yet is also being underdelivered in gaming.

This piece doesn’t even go into much of the actual quality of the representation we do get, and how a lot of it still isn’t very good, or the lack of pansexual, trans and non-binary representation, but that could be a whole other article or two. Basically, all I’m saying is go play Hades because it’s amazing and also that we’re people just as normal and everyday as any cis-het person, and it’s time that people acknowledge that.