The Most Groundbreaking LGBTQ+ Characters in Video Games

June 17, 2020

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month, a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and their accomplishments in a variety of different fields. 

A remarkable amount of progress has been made in terms of game accessibility and diversity. There is still a long way to go in order to reach total inclusivity, however.

Fortunately, though, there have been many great video game characters in the LGBTQ+ community. As such, let’s take a close look at what makes these characters so great. Here are the greatest and most groundbreaking LGBTQ+ characters in video games.

Ellie (The Last of Us)

The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part II feature one of the most significant gay characters in gaming. Simply named “Ellie,” this teenage protagonist is written superbly and offers an entire well of character depth. This led Ellie a great deal of praise upon her 2013 debut.

However, one of the most significant aspects of her character wasn’t revealed until 2014’s The Last of Us: Left Behind. Ellie is confirmed as a member of the LGBTQ+ community when she kisses her best friend Riley.

Fortunately, the handling of her “coming out” and the depiction of the relationship between her and Riley was perfect. It can never be understated exactly how touching this revelation was to many gamers who may not have expected to find representation in such a meaningful character. 

Sir Hammerlock and Wainwright Jakobs (Borderlands 3)

Borderlands 3 is a recent game that does a few things wrong, but does one thing flawlessly. The game’s depiction of LGBTQ+ characters is pretty refreshing, especially when it comes to two of the major characters within the story. 

Sir Alistair Hammerlock and Wainwright Jakobs are two hunters who also happen to be gay. They’re both very capable of handling business when there’s a call to action, and neither are afraid to show their concern for their partner. Their relationship is warm, sweet, and honestly just fun to see. Plus, the couple was so significant that an entire DLC campaign was dedicated to their wedding.

Commander Shepard (Mass Effect 3)

As a futuristic sci-fi series, Mass Effect was always pretty progressive. However, it didn’t fully embrace sexual diversity until Mass Effect 3. In this game, both male and female versions of the main character, Commander Shepard, could pursue same-sex relationships. While Mass Effect 3 didn’t handle these relationships perfectly, it did offer a few very meaningful moments for the LGBTQ+ community.

Tracer (Overwatch)

Overwatch is pretty light on story within the actual game, as it is focused mostly on gameplay. However, there is plenty of side content to flesh out the characters a bit more for fans. From animated short films to comics, there’s actually a fairly decent story to be found if you search it out. One of these comics even revealed that Overwatch had included not only one, but two gay characters so far. 

The first, however, made a huge and unexpected splash. As a fan favorite, Tracer was originally seen as a sort of face for the game. This was due to her being so recognizable and energetic when on screen. However, the reveal that she was also gay helped lift the character to a somewhat iconic status. 

Arcade Gannon (Fallout: New Vegas)

2010’s Fallout: New Vegas featured a fantastic cast of characters for the player to interact with. One of the more interesting among them was Arcade Gannon. This wasteland doctor is a strange fellow, but he’s written very intelligently and has an incredible wit about him.

However, many players may not have picked up on another small aspect of Arcade’s personality: he’s gay. This trait doesn’t define him or doesn’t even drive him in any meaningful way. Arcade is simply gay, and New Vegas treats this as if it’s completely normal and not really significant. This nonchalance is what makes this depiction of an LGBTQ+ character so special and interesting.

Alexios and Kassandra (Assassin’s Creed Odyssey)

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey takes place in ancient Greece. Sexuality was incredibly fluid in that culture during that time. This leads the two main characters of Odyssey, Alexios and Kassandra, to take the Arcade Gannon approach to their romances. There are no serious labels or revelations, there is simply attraction and romance. This adds a layer of normalcy for the LGBTQ+ community in gaming that is gladly welcomed.

Dorian Pavus (Dragon Age Inquisition)

From the developers of the Mass Effect games, the Dragon Age series is also pretty progressive, particularly Dragon Age: Inquisition. Featuring several characters of the LGBTQ+ variety, it is clear that Dragon Age was aiming for inclusivity. 

This leads to the introduction of Dorian Pavus, a mage who is also openly gay. Dorian is well written and serves as a great companion within the game. However, his personal story tackles an issue that has affected many people in the LGBTQ+ community. 

Dorian’s family demands that he carry on their bloodline. As you may have guessed, there is one pretty big issue with that plan. This leads to a nasty spat with his father, resulting in Dorian leaving his home and family behind. Naturally, the player joins Dorian on a return to his home where he confronts this issue directly. 

While this situation comes dangerously close to playing as a cliché, the way that it is handled makes a difference. There is nuance and thought placed into Dorian’s story, and that in turn makes him a strong and relatable character for many players.

Who are you favorite LGBTQ+ video game characters? Tell us in the comments below!

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March 24, 2016
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Obsidian Entertainment
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