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There is One Good Thing About 2017: Lots of Queer Women In Games

Please, game developers of every size and stripe, keep making good games games with queer women in them.​

Danielle Riendeau

Image courtesy Bethesda

Mild Spoiler Warning for Dishonored: Death of the Outsider.

I've been playing Dishonored: Death of the Outsider pretty much nonstop (well, in terms of my gaming hours). Sure, there are other games I need to finish, but I'm determined to actually beat this one, since it is phenomenal. Better than Dishonored 2 phenomenal—an experience that is both tighter (with some intelligently reused assets/stages) and—for players like me, who want to see and do everything—even more expansive, with contract missions in each level. It's taking me upwards of 6 hours to finish some levels, and I am *just fine* with that.

I found another reason to love the game last night, when I encountered a note (yes, I look for every note, newspaper, audiograph, and scrap of lore, it's fun, ok) that described protagonist Billie Lurk's relationship with someone named Dierdre. And that, dear reader, was my first full-blown realization that Billie is queer, making her the second Arkane protagonist this year who is a queer woman of color (if you play a woman character in Prey, Morgan is queer).

2017 has been an infuriating, sad, disgusting year, politically. But it has also been a great year for games, and maybe the greatest year so far for games starring or about queer women. Prey (my GOTY pick thus far) was amazing for so many reasons, not the least of which was a very cute and well-done relationship between two women in a main quest storyline (and, again, the protagonist if you picked a woman character). Life is Strange: Before the Storm leans heavily into the gay. Butterfly Soup, which I wrote about a bit a few weeks ago is a hilarious visual novel about four young queer Asian-American women who play baseball.

At least, from what I've played, that seems like a higher-than-usual percentage of mainstream games featuring queer women front and center. In all of these instances—outside of Life is Strange—we're talking about queer women of color.

Please, game developers of every size and stripe, keep making good games games with queer women in them.

I'm not sure if there's a specific reason for the trend—maybe some of the progressive writing about games, or the calls for more diversity in games fell upon sympathetic ears in the industry. Maybe a few developers worked extremely hard to have their voices heard, despite pressure, as always, to make the most marketable thing. Maybe some folks have realized that shit, there is a market for folks who'd like queer representation in games. And maybe lesbians, bi, and other kinds of queer women are still palatable to what is perceived to be a largely heterosexual male audience. These are all very different kinds of games (save for Arkane's offerings), with different budgets and player experience goals.

What I can say is this: Please, game developers of every size and stripe, keep making good games games with queer women in them. Complex women, interesting women, women who defy stereotypes and live their own damn lives, flaws and all.

Have thoughts? Swing by Waypoint's forums to share them! And further, check out the forum thread dedicated to LGBTQI representation in games.