In a world where there is a range of different human beings, representation is important. Many video games excel at captivating wide audiences and some do this simply by the representation of different peoples. There is nothing better than finding a character you can relate to and find comfort in. Join me as I count down on ten games that nailed representation and promoted diversity.
10. Tell Me Why
Tell Me Why is a good first addition to the list. Tell Me Why under DONTNOD entertainment captivated audiences with its story. However, it was also taking credit for having the first transgender protagonist from a major gaming studio. DONTNOD Entertainment has always promoted diversity when it comes to characters in its games. Life is strange being a prime example.
The story follows Tyler Ronan, a 21-year-old male character with a twin sister. The story is a captivating tale of two twins trying to come to terms with their childhood memories. Some memories are more so inherently traumatic. There are some topical and sensitive issues within the plot such as discussions around conversion camps and some of the town being transphobic towards Tyler. It paints a real picture of some of the issues faced by the transgender community.
Additionally, it shows Tyler’s journey from the moment he came to terms with his identity and features a heartwarming scene where he picks his name. Tyler is referred to as Tyler throughout the entire story and is not “deadnamed” on any occasion. Tyler’s character is much more than his orientation and as players, we see much more of his personality and character attributes than just focussing on his gender identity. This allows for a more positive storytelling surrounding Tyler.
Overall, DONTNOD Entertainment knocked it out of the park with this protagonist, leaving Tyler Ronan as a positive and diverse character within gaming.
As an avid fan of mythology and Greek culture, HADES is one of my all-time favorite games. HADES ensured that the typical portrayal of Ancient Greece which was primarily white-centered and hetrosexual was diverse and portrayed a variety of enticing characters. Anyone familiar with Ancient Greece will know they were an exciting bunch and had a variety of characters themselves. Ancient Greece was also a hub of diversity due to its trade routes much like during the pirate era or other major points in history. Let us explore just how cleverly HADES promotes diversity.
For a start Zagreus the protagonist has scenes that confirm him as bisexual. During the game, Zagreus can develop bonds with characters by gifting them nectar and other items. This unlocks romantic scenes between two characters Thanatos (Male) and Megaera (Female). There is also a third romance option of Dusa, Dusa reveals that she is asexual and does not want a sexual relationship with Zagreus. Again this represents another sexual orientation.
The pantheon of gods featured in the game promotes diversity through a variety of different ethnicities. Eurydice and Athena are both portrayed as powerful black women in the game. Hermes is portrayed as East Asian and Dionysus as South Asian. This is a far cry from a primarily white Greek cast that other games portray.
8. Life is Strange
Life is strange is an episodic, story-driven game where the players’ decisions are impacting the story. One of the main characters Chloe Price has been confirmed to have same-sex love interests within the story.
This enriching and full story explores a variety of themes such as grief, murder and elements of the supernatural. The portrayal of female same-sex relationships is prominent throughout the game and leave players able to fully pursue this if that is their choice within the game. This creates diversity as prior to this most games were still opting for a female and male relationship.
7. Fragments of him
Fragments of Him celebrates diversity by including a male same-sex relationship. It does this by creating an almost mundane story of day-by-day life with undertones of loss and grief. There is not much to the scenes and even the dialogue is sparse, sweet, and short. However, this gives the player enough to realize the extent of the character Will and his relationships.
Halfway through the story, it brings Wills’s ex-partner a female into the mix indicating that Will is bisexual. Again promoting further diversity. The gloomy soundtrack and gloomy art style adds to this hauntingly beautiful story of love, loss and celebrates a diverse cast of characters. Definitely one that would be worth trying.
6. Borderlands series
The borderlands series is quirky at the best of times with a cast of characters that are increasingly diverse with each new installment. The characters that spring to mind for diversity are the canonically Same sex couple Wainwright and Hammerlock. Wainwright and Hammerlock consistently discuss their relationship when the opportunity arises and refer to one another as “the love of my life.” It’s sweet, it’s great, and it’s diverse.
As quoted below the concept artists went with a view that to make the game authentic diversity was essential. This has resulted in a wonderful world of characters that have gripped players since the release of the first game.
“We want to create worlds that feel real and authentic, and that means having people of all different body types, gender, sexuality, ethnicity–and it’s way more fun to design people in a huge spectrum than the same, generic bro and hot chick over and over again.”Gearbox concept artist Amanda Christensen
5. Gone home
Gone home fronts as a spooky mystery game but then comes out of the left-field with a beautiful story of young adults in love and having to deal with homophobia surrounding their relationship from some of their family members. It’s a tale of going against all odds and choosing to be with the one you love.
Diversity is celebrated in this story by simply allowing Sam and Lonnie to choose to be together in a beautiful way. The game allows for a unique and emotional experience that everyone should try at least once.
4. Assassins’ Creed series
Speaking about the series as a whole and in short, Assassins creed creates a wonderful array of created characters and historically accurate characters.
It’s a very multicultural focussed game whilst being education and allowing us to relive historical moments. I could go into the ins and outs of every race or different orientation portrayed in this game but that would be a full separate article. The most important thing to take from this is that the game does not disappoint in representing a diverse range of characters, circumstances and story.
3. Mass Effect Series
I could discuss the player being able to create a character and romance male or female but I have chosen to discuss the portrayal of a physically disabled character and how this promotes diversity.
Joker has Vrolik syndrome which leads to brittle bones. We learn that Joker was born with severe fractures to his legs and needs a crutch or leg braces to navigate anywhere. This is representation at its finest, especially when you understand that the game is set in the space age so they easily could have written into that game that modern medicine was really advanced and physical ailments were a thing of the past. Having a character who is such a staple of the crew in the mass effect series not being the stereotypical buff and muscly super space soldier is a refreshing diverse addition to the mass effect character roster.
Undertale was a loveable, quirky, and unique experience that featured diverse characters and situations. Undertale featured a lesbian relationship, this was between Undyne and Alphys. The relationship was cute, wholesome, and made perfect sense to players.
In addition the player themselves is left with no confirmation about gender and just named “the kid” allowing for the person playing to really step into the shoes and have their own ideas about what the protagonist might be like.
Humor + Great diverse characters = A win for gaming. This game is on the more subtle side of promoting diversity but it definitely delivers.
1. Apex Legends
Apex Legends receives the top spot due to its mix of genders, sexual orientations and ethnicities. Take bloodhound for example. Bloodhound a playable character that focuses on recon skills such as tracking players to eliminate them is confirmed by the developers as identifying as non-binary. In addition to this, there are several other playable characters that have a different sexual orientation than straight. Gibraltar is defined as gay and his boyfriend is featured in his background story, Seer identifies as pansexual which was confirmed by a lead writer and Loba identifies as bisexual.
Overall, this game is leading the way for diversity and inclusiveness. The game promotes being true to yourself and that in this world they are a variety of individuals.
As always thank you.
Thanks for joining me in this countdown. Whether you were curious about diversity in games or were looking for games that represent you better. I hope this has been informative, education,al and eye-opening. Here at VIBE we are a diverse bunch and will always promote diversity.
One last word before we go: Always be true to yourself.
25, Scottish, Gaming, writing and cooking 🧑🍳 🎮