Lesbian Visibility Week: 9 iconic video game lesbians who literally changed the game
The world of video games has long been dominated by straight male heroes – but the tide is certainly turning.
The gaming industry is the modern entertainment mammoth, worth more than film and music combined. And its influence is set to spread even further, with the success of HBO’s The Last of US and Nintendo’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie predicted to make gaming adaptations the new superhero movie.
As the industry continues to grown, the representation of lesbian characters becomes even more important. While women make up around half of gamers, they’ve long been underrepresented and forced to deal with sexist and misogynistic plots – with sapphic representation even harder to find.
But things are beginning to change. To mark Lesbian Visibility Week, here are just a few of the amazingly written and memorable lesbian characters across gaming.
Warning – this article contains spoilers for pretty much every game featured in the list.
Ellie – The Last of Us
Ellie Williams, from the post-apocalyptic zombie series The Last of Us, has had arguably one of the most significant same-sex relationships in modern gaming history.
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First introduced as a 14-year-old go-getter surviving in the last pockets of humanity following a deadly zombie pandemic, a series of hardships forces Ellie to grow up fast if she hopes to stay alive.
In The Last of Us Part II, we first catch a glimpse of the now-19-year-old’s sexuality after she is revealed to be dating new character Dina.
As well as its significance for the LGBTQ+ community, the plot was notable for showing mainstream audiences that love stories could be done justice in video games.
Ruby, the Instigator – Disco Elysium
So much could be said about the way ZA/UM’s Disco Elysium incorporates queer themes into its award-winning story. Whether it’s the way LGBTQ+ characters are treated in the cold streets of Revachol – inspired by the wreckage of post-war Europe – or the small, touching moments where characters are free to express themselves.
But none could be a better representation than the character Ruby, The Instigator. Met much later in the game, Ruby is a ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ survivor who is forced to go into hiding following an incident that places her at the forefront of a murder investigation.
Through the game’s masterfully written dialogue, Ruby’s backstory – which involves her affection for one of the women in Revachol West – is as beautifully heartbreaking as it is interesting.
Not only that but her sexuality is so smoothly incorporated into her character, it’s almost criminal.
Vivien Pentreath – Moonmist
While not the most well-known lesbian character in gaming, Vivien Pentreath is believed to have made gaming history by being the first sapphic video game character.
Moonmist, a 1986 text adventure, sees Pentreath play the criminal gay villain who is described as being “jealous about her girlfriend marrying a man.”
While she is never explicitly referred to as a lesbian, her relationship with her girlfriend Deidre broke new ground in the budding gaming world of the 1980s.
A section in the game sees her read a “tear-stained page” of her diary in which she describes her late lover affectionately, which sets the precedent for her plot of revenge.
And I mean, if we all haven’t been there…
Judy Alvarez – Cyberpunk 2077
The world of Cyberpunk 2077 is incredibly gay – so to be one of the game’s most iconic lesbian characters, hacker Judy Alvarez is about as gay as it gets.
The multicolour-haired, augmented techie is a fan favourite for her magnetic attitude and incredibly queer vibes. She also has a romance option, but only for players who have selected the “feminine body type.”
Seeing a datable lesbian character in a game with a customisable protagonist isn’t too common, so it’s great to see her represented in the world of Night City.
Tracer – Overwatch
If you’ve ever wanted to play as a British space-warping sapphic superhero sporting dual pistols and a vibrant attitude, then Tracer is a dream come true.
The Overwatch playable character is by far one of the most iconic in the roster of heroes, and arguably the gayest.
Her sexuality was revealed in a comic series released alongside the first game after her girlfriend, Emily, was introduced.
Seeing LGBTQ+ representation in a competitive shooter is a step above the competition and helps to set a precedent of support for all players.
Commander Shepard – Mass Effect
As a customisable character, Commander Shepard’s malleable sexuality – which can potentially be lesbian – is proof that video games hold a unique ability to really represent the player.
Players can choose to romance several characters in the game and can opt to choose exclusively female characters for that purely gay experience.
The romance options can range from sweet to sultry and represent the dynamic range of stories to tell in the vast world of Mass Effect.
Elster – Signalis
Elster, also known as LSTR-512 is a Replika human lost in the surreal and horrifying world of Signalis with one goal in mind – to find her girlfriend Ariane.
Elster and Ariane’s relationship becomes more apparent as the game progresses, with flashbacks, diary excerpts, and other tidbits revealing a tragically beautiful love story.
Despite the beauty of their close relationship, tragedy inescapably defines Signalis’ several endings in which Elster must keep her promise to her partner. Whether you know what this is depends on how well you came to know each other.
Renata Glasc – League of Legends
League of Legends Champion Renata Glasc has it all – superpowers, powerful sapphic energy and an unbelievably stylish suit.
The character was introduced in 2022 as a “stern, sinister, sophisticated, serpentine, sardonic, sapphic, sublime” enchanter that has since become a fan-favourite among the queers.
Her inclusion in League of Legends is yet another fantastic queer addition to the Champion roster.
Undyne – Undertale
For an undeniably cool warrior who dons a suit of armour, Undyne might have one of the cutest dating side quests in gaming.
The justice-driven monster soldier goes on a heartwarming date with the comparatively clumsy Dr Alphys after the protagonist hands a letter to her from Undyne.
Undyne is a favourite among Undertale fans for being so well-written both as a queer character and as a valiant defender of the underground.
Honourable mention: Lady Dimitrescu – Resident Evil
While her sexuality is never fully clarified, Resident Evil Village’s Alcina Dimitrescu has become something of a queer icon in her own right.
The nine-foot-tall vampire aristocrat gained a huge amount of attention following her introduction in the teaser trailer for the 2021 survival horror game and, let’s face it, you don’t get called ‘mother’ that many times without having some sapphic energy.
Excerpts from her various books and diaries suggest that she has little romantic interest in men and talks about the women in her life as though they are Greek statues.
No matter her true sexuality, Dimitrescu is worth a mention because she will forever be the tall vampire lady that we queers truly need.
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