The history of LGBTQ+ visual novels

LGBTQ+ Gaming Week 2021

LGBTQ+ Gaming Week

(Image credit: TechRadar / R Healey Art)

Welcome to TechRadar’s LGBTQ+ Gaming Week 2021. During this week-long celebration, we’re highlighting topics and voices within the LGBTQ+ gaming community. Find out more here.

Despite an increase in the number of LGBTQ+ characters in AAA video games, including Ellie in The Last of Us and Chloe in Life is Strange, there are still not many. LGBTQ+ people have often looked to indie games to see queer stories – and when it comes to the queer indie scene there’s one genre that’s king. 

If you’re scrolling through the LGBTQ tags on itch.io or Steam you’ll find that a big chunk of the indie LGBTQ+ games that are available are visual novels. This includes popular queer games like Butterfly Soup, Dream Daddy, Heaven Will Be Mine, and Ladykiller in a Bind. But why are there so many queer visual novels? What attracts both LGBTQ+ developers and players to the medium? In an attempt to answer that question we took a look at the history of the queer visual novel.

The makings of the first visual novels

The Portopia Serial Murder Case

The Portopia Serial Murder Case (Image credit: Square Enix)

The game that could be considered the first iteration of the LGBTQ+ visual novel, and the first LGBTQ+ game, is Caper in the Castro, a point-and-click detective game released in 1989 by CM Ralph. You play as lesbian detective Tracker McDyke, who’s searching for a woman named Tessy LaFemme, who’s gone missing. The game was a tribute to the San Francisco LGBTQ+ community, and included a lot of tongue-in-cheek queer references and puns, including a villain named Dullagan Straightman.

#history #LGBTQ #visual #novels

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