10 of the best LGBTQ video games to play while self-isolating

Boredom? We don’t know her.

Whether you’ve been out of the gaming scene for years, or you’re just looking for something different to play, there’s no better time than now – when you should all be staying at home, where possible – to revisit some old favourites or discover something new.

We’ve rounded up some of our favourite video games for you to get stuck into, from classics like Mass Effect and The Sims, to more niche offerings like Dream Daddy and Night In The Woods – even better, they all feature LGBTQ characters or storylines.

Dragon Age: Inquisition (2014)

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, Windows

The latest entry into the Dragon Age saga sees the player become the Inquisitor, a ‘chosen one’ style character who must journey to settle civil unrest in the continent of Thedas and close a mysterious tear in the sky that’s unleashing demons upon the world. The game features an elaborate romance system, allowing players to win over a number of potential lovers including a 10-foot bull-man voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr (you know, Fred from the live-action Scooby Doo movies). It also featured Bioware’s first trans character, Cremisius Acclasi, which received praise from the community. Dragon Age: Inquisition was honoured with a Special Recognition award from LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD for its inclusion of queer characters.

Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator (2017)

Available on: PS4, Switch, Windows, Mac

You might not be able to go on real dates during the coronavirus pandemic, but you can still get your romance fix with dating sims. While there aren’t many high-quality entries in the genre that cater to LGBTQ players, Dream Daddy does a very good job of filling that gap. Players take on the role of a single dad whose goal is to meet and romance other hot dads. Conveniently, you’ve just moved to seaside town Maple Bay, where seemingly everyone is a single, dateable dad – from Teacher Dad to Goth Dad and even Bad Dad. The artwork is great, the dialogue is hilarious, and the dad puns just keep on coming. What’s not to love?

Mass Effect: Andromeda (2017)

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, Windows

While it may primarily focus on open-world exploration and outer-space shoot-offs with aliens, one of the most interesting and talked-about aspects of the Mass Effect series has always been the ability to woo and ultimately sleep with other characters. Both Mass Effect 3 and the most recent edition, 2017’s hit Andromeda, featured options for the player to pursue same-sex relationships. There has been some criticism levelled at the lack of potential romantic partners for gay men (straight players and queer women have more choice), but sometimes you’ve got to take the representation where you can get it.

Gone Home (2013)

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Windows, Mac, iOS

If you’re looking for an atmospheric mystery to unravel at your own pace, Gone Home is the game for you. Players take on the role of Katie, a young woman who returns to her rural family home in Oregan only to find it deserted, with a note on the door asking her not to investigate what happened. Of course, that only makes the whole situation more enticing, leaving her to piece together what happened by searching for clues and journals. We can’t give much away without spoiling the story for you, but it received critical acclaim upon release for its portrayal of LGBTQ issues, and is regularly cited as proof that video games are art.

Life Is Strange (2015)

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, Windows, Mac, iOS, Android

The award-winning Life Is Strange was a standout of the episodic video game format when it launched in 2015, allowing players to ‘tune in’ to new chapters of the game every other month, with their in-game decisions effecting the direction (and ultimately the ending) of the story. The game focuses on 18-year-old photography student Max Caulfield, who discovers she has the ability to reverse time at any moment and must use her powers to save her town from being destroyed by an oncoming storm. Max’s queerness was hinted at in the original game, while 2017 prequel series Before The Storm gave fans the same-sex romance they were waiting for. Both entries are worth your time.

Night In The Woods (2017)

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Windows, Mac, iOS, Android

Funded via Kickstarter – where it reached 400% of its target goal – A Night In The Woods is a side-scrolling exploration game that follows pansexual college dropout Mae as she moves back to her hometown Possum Springs to discover unexpected changes, a missing childhood friend and a mystery developing in the woods. The well-developed characters are what really bring the game to life, and many of them are LGBTQ including Mae’s best friend Gregg and his boyfriend Angus, as well as trans character Jackie.

Overwatch (2015)

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Windows

Blizzard’s futuristic online team-based shooter has become a global phenomenon with an intensely passionate fanbase who regularly produce fan art and cosplay. The game provides players with more than 30 characters to choose from, each with their own unique play styles and abilities, and they’ve all got flesh-out back stories thanks to animated short films and stories that can be viewed online. Even better, two of the series’ major characters are part of the LGBTQ community – fan favourite Soldier: 76 and the game’s cover star Tracer.

Stardew Valley (2016)

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Windows, Mac, iOS, Android

Described as an open-ended country-life RPG, indie critical and commercial success story Stardew Valley has established itself as a more intense alternative to popular life simulator franchises like Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing. As well as the expected activities like growing crops, raising livestock, crafting goods and selling produce, players can also romance their fellow townsfolk – regardless of gender – and get married and have children. It’s the kind of game you’ll sink hundreds of hours into and not even realise.

The Last Of Us: Left Behind (2014)

Available on: PS4

Aside from being one of the greatest video game experiences of all time, offering up an end-of-the-world zombie story that could rival any big-screen epic, Sony’s masterpiece The Last Of Us also featured a major queer character in the form of teenage girl Ellie, the sidekick of main character Joel. Her sexuality was revealed in downloadable content prologue Left Behind, where she shared a kiss with her friend Riley. The game’s creative director and writer Neil Druckmann has confirmed he wrote Ellie as gay, and promised that her sexuality will be explored further in sequel The Last Of Us II. That’s due out later this year, so now’s the perfect time to catch up.

The Sims 4 (2014)

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, Windows, Mac

Many queer people will remember the excitement of discovering that their virtual characters on the original The Sims game could have same-sex relationships, something which the long-running and undeniably iconic gaming series has always supported. In recent editions like The Sims 4, queer couples can also get married, adopt children and start their own families, reflecting the real world we live in and allowing players to vicariously experience romance through the screen. Or you could just trap your Sim in a burning house. It’s really up to you.

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