Caper in the Castro is considered the first-ever for homosexuality and LGBT in video games. Set in the gay district of San Francisco, the main character – a lesbian – looks for her drag queen friend who has been kidnapped. The gameplay takes characters through the Castro district, where they meet a range of LGBT characters – while the game was lost for a few years, it was recently rediscovered and available online and is displayed in the only LGBT gaming exhibit in the world.
Finding Gay Video Game Characters
Over the last ten years, the LGBT community at Aroundmen have been represented more and more within the film and television industry. Sports stars have supported pride, and for the first time in American history, an NFL player has come out as gay. Additionally, several well-known celebrities such as Caitlyn Jenner, Cara Delevingne, and Elliot Page have all been front runners in providing LGBT role models globally, but what about video games?
Where to Find Gay People Games
LGBT in video games has never really been a “thing” in the mainstream world. Even with more films, series, sports stars, and other influencers working hard to include the LGBT community, there is no doubt that gay video characters have been left behind. But things are changing – and while it’s not widely advertised, there are many different gay video characters and games, if you know where to look – that have been played since the 80s.
Is There LGBT Representation in Video Games?
It would surprise most people to understand that homosexuality in video games has been a thing since the late 80s. Still, since it’s not advertised often or marketed in the mainstream media, many gamers (even those who are active in the LGBT community) are unaware of just how many options are available to those who want to find LGBT options.
For example, the Fallout series are often considered male-only games. Still, Fallout was one of the first-ever LGBT-friendly games – yet it is never advertised as so and isn’t commonly known, even in the LGBT community.
Can You Have Gay Sex in Video Games
Even in the gay gaming community, many people assume that gay video games don’t exist – or that those that do are new to the market, but that isn’t the case. In the western world, in 1989, Caper in the Castro was first released, and in 1992 – almost 30 years ago – Great Greed was released on the Original Game Boy, one of the first video games to have gay video game characters. Six years after the release of Great Greed, Fallout 2 was released shortly after – the first video that allowed Aroundmen users and players to “marry” a member of the same sex.
That said, in the 1990’s there were many LGBT characters available in Japanese video games. However, the characters were often considered stereotypical and not representative of the true LGBT community and, therefore, not LGBT friendly. However, over the last few years, LGBT representation in video games has improved exponentially, even in the mainstream market. The most well-known and popular video games with LGBT characters (or that are LGBT friendly).
Dream Daddy (2017) available on PS4, Switch, Windows, and Mac
Visual novel video game released in 2017 by Game Grumps. The game lets players take on the role of single dads, looking for other single dads to date.
Gone Home (2013) PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Windows, Mac, and iOS
First-person exploration game released in 2013 by The Fullbright Company. The game puts players in the role of a young woman returning from overseas to her home, which she finds abandoned.
Life is Strange (2015) PS4, Xbox One, Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android
Episodic graphic adventure game published by Square Enix and created by Dontnod Entertainment. The game is set in Oregon and starts with the main character witnessing the shooting of her best friend when she rewinds time to change the events and save time.
Dragon Age (2014) PS4, Xbox One, Windows
Created by BioWare and released in 2009, Dragon Age is the collective name for several different games on the fictional island of Thedas. The mission of the first game is to save the kingdom from being overrun by “darkspawn”.
Mass Effect (2017) PS4, Xbox One, Windows
Mass Effect was developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts – games are third-person shooters with various role-playing elements. In the first game, players attempt to save the galaxy from a race of ancient machines.
Night in the Woods (2017) PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
A single-player adventure video game, published in 2017 and developed by Infinite Fall, players control a young female dropout who has returned home to unexpected changes.
Overwatch (2015) PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Windows
Launched in 2016, Overwatch is a multiplayer first-person shooter game both published and developed by Blizzard Entertainment. Players become a member of two teams of six to compete.
Stardew Valley (2016) PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
A role-playing simulation game, released by Microsoft in 2016 and developed by Eric “ConcernedApe” Barone. Players take over the farms of their deceased relatives and try to improve conditions.
There are many more available video games with LGBT characters – some that even offer gay sex in video games – however, like with many video games, sexual relationships happen behind closed doors, focusing on the actual gameplay, even within the gayest video game.
In 2019, the Rainbow Arcade in Berlin celebrated the world’s first exhibit of queer content and games at the Schwules Museum. Visitors are invited to explore the cultural history and sometimes forgotten world of LGBTQ gaming – meaning video games with LGBT characters is not as new as we think.
A Short History of Video Games with LGBT Characters
While gay characters in video games are not common, many games made history for breaking LGBT video games boundaries in the 80s. Caper in the Castro – released in 1989 – is often considered the first-ever gay game video. Produced for Mac computers, the LGBT-friendly video game is the earliest known mention of gay in video games, and sales of the game raised money for the AIDS epidemic of the 80s.
The main character in the game is a lesbian detective trying to find her kidnapped friend, a drag queen. The game is set in Castro, the gay district of San Francisco, and introduces players to several different gay video game characters while on the mission to rescue the kidnapped friend.
Although the game is over 30-year-old, it is considered a front runner in gay video game characters – as it’s never been done before, and it took a long time for someone to do it again. The creator of the game, C.M Ralph, was quoted when asked why she was giving back to the LGBT community:
In 1988 I had moved from Southern California (behind the orange curtain) to the San Francisco Bay Area. I was so impressed and grateful for the LBGT community's freedom here compared to what I had lived in down in SoCal. I wanted to give back to the community and create a way to raise money for AIDS Charities.— C.M. Ralph, Interview in Paste
Unfortunately, Caper in the Castro was re-released the same year under a new “LGBT friendly name” with non-LGBT characters to reach the mainstream market. The mainstream game was only sold in mail-order catalogues rather than on the gaming circuit, and the game was thought to be lost for 3-4 years. However, the original copies of the game were rediscovered, and a playable version of both games was re -released in 2017 on an internet archive. In 2019 the original Caper in the Castro game was displayed at the first-ever LGBTQ video games exhibit in the world, at the Schwules Museum in Berlin.