The world has come a long way when it comes to the acceptance of LGBT people. Video games are no exception. Over time, there has been a steady influx of LGBT characters peppered throughout video games. Sometimes they are hidden in overlooked dialogue or in optional side quests.
More recently, they are at the forefront as main, playable characters. The older, less noticed ones are just as important. They paved the way for the more prominent ones, after all. It’s refreshing to see such a wide variety of identities across an equally wide variety of video game genres. Here are 10 video games you didn’t know had LGBT characters.
1. The Borderlands Series
Tiny Tina is a character that appears in Borderlands 2 and is slated to be in Borderlands 3 as well. She makes multiple flirtatious comments about female characters and expressly helps your team out because of a crush she has on Mad Moxxi. Mad Moxxi is a regular in the Borderlands game and repeatedly brags about her conquests with both men and women. She’s not the only bisexual character in the game, but she’s the most prominent one.
2. The Dragon Age Series
An entire article could be written on the LGBT representation in the Dragon Age series alone. Leliana, Iron Bull, Fenris, Zevran and Isabel are a few of the bisexual characters. Sera is a lesbian and Dorian Pavus is gay. Dragon Age: Inquisition also has Krem, a transgender man who reveals his trans identity in game dialogue.
3. The Fallout Series
Previous games had side characters that were LGBT, but it’s Fallout: New Vegas where you see the most representation. Veronica Santangelo is a lesbian, something you find out during one of your side quests. Arcade Gannon also openly discusses being gay. And in Fallout 4, you can romance any of your companions regardless of your gender, making them all bisexual.
4. The Last of Us
One of the main characters in the game, Ellie, is confirmed to be a lesbian. She shares a kiss with Riley in the prequel for the game after harboring a crush throughout the game. Neill Druckmann, the writer for the character, said in a 2014 interview that he intended for the character to be gay.
5. Super Mario Bros. 2
One of the most surprising titles on the list, Super Mario Bros. 2 has had a trans character as far back as 1988. Yes, Birdo, the pink egg-shooting boss, is a transgender female character. She is often considered the first transgender character in video games. Nintendo’s 1988 North American manual for Super Mario Bros. 2 referred to Birdo like this, “He thinks he’s a girl and he spits eggs from his mouth. He’d rather be called Birdetta.” In 2000’s Mario Tennis, Birdo is depicted in a relationship with Yoshi. And in the Wii exclusive game Captain Rainbow released in 2008, Birdo has a storyline that explores her trans identity.
6. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Knights of the Old Republic is one of the most revered games in Star Wars history, and it’s also the first to feature an LGBT character. Juhani, a female Jedi Knight, is a recruitable Dark Side companion in the game, romanceable only if you choose to play as a female Revan. If you create a Dark Side-aligned Revan in Knights of the Old Republic II, Revan’s relationship with Juhani is mentioned.
In Bully, you play as high school student Jimmy Hopkins, and you have the option to kiss several girls, if they allow you to. There are a few romance side quests where you can officially get Jimmy a girlfriend, but the only options are women. A few of the boys allow kissing though, which confirms two things about the game: Jimmy is bisexual and a few of the other male students are either gay or bisexual as well.
8. Mortal Kombat X
Another surprising inclusion, 2015’s Mortal Kombat X became the first Mortal Kombat game in the series’ long history to include an LGBT fighter with the character Kung Jin. There are several lines that showcase his homosexuality. For instance, when Kung Jin says that the Shaolin Monks won’t accept him, Raiden assures him, “They care only about what is in your heart. Not whom your heart desires.” Another time, Kung Jin scoffs at the idea of a woman finding him attractive, muttering that she’s “barking up the wrong tree.” The game’s cinematic director Dominic Cianciolo confirmed Kung Jin’s sexuality in a 2015 tweet.
9. The Witcher 3
Ciri, a main playable character of the game as well as Geralt’s adopted daughter, is either bisexual or a lesbian depending on your choices in the game. In the novels that act as a prequel to the game, she has a relationship with a woman, so her interest in women is confirmed. While playing Witcher 3, there are dialogue options that allow you to express interest in a man or tell him that you’re only interested in women. So, her sexuality depends on player choices, but her interest in women is undeniable.
This popular MMORPG, or massive multiplayer online role playing game, has made real strides in LGBT representation. Since the game’s release in 2016, it has revealed that two of its main characters are LGBT. Tracer was revealed to have a girlfriend in a 2016 comic book. Meanwhile, in the short story “Bastet” released earlier this year, Soldier 76 mentions a past relationship with a man. Overwatch lead writer Michael Chu has confirmed in tweets that they are a lesbian and a gay man, respectively, rather than bisexual.