It's been a good month for gay pride this year. Smack dab in the middle of Pride Week, the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage throughout all 50 states in the USA. An 8-year-old got down with his fabulous self. An NYPD officer eschewed professional stoicism in favor of showing off some sexy dance moves during a New York pride parade with a determined dancer.
If you're still feeling a strong attachment to rainbows, well, who can blame you? Here are 10 titles to keep the gay pride celebration going.
Warning: Not all of the games on this list contain rainbows.
The first game of the list... isn't actually out yet.
Pridefest, the hotly anticipated 2015 interactive social-sim mobile game from Atari that empowers you to spread joy and color throughout your city.
"As Deputy Mayor it’s up to you to restore the city to its former glory through city customization and expansion, creating and launching Pride parades, boosting your city’s happiness level and more!"
Announced nearly a year ago, Atari has already debuted several demo versions of Pridefest at events like FLAME CON, New York City's first queer comic convention, and has an already-growing online ommunity.
In the interest of keeping the festival spirit alive and well throughout the year, keep an eye out for the full release of this colorful punch of happy.
It's impossible to really condense the concept of gay pride down to any one thing - but it is a generally well-accepted fact that there is often very little choice in the matter of who you are, and who you are attracted to.
What you do get with growing gay pride acceptance is the ability to choose to act on that attraction.
Progress may move slowly, but video games, even big-name AAA games have been stepping up to expand who and what you're allowed to love. You can't make mention of these games without entertaining BioWare's Mass Effect trilogy.
The first two games have always offered the possibility of same-sex relationships, but these were offered regardless of whether you chose to play male!Shep or fem!Shep. And while fans may go into conniptions over the ending of Mass Effect 3, with the introduction of Samantha Traynor and Steve Cortez, this was also the first time in BioWare history that full romances were possible exclusively for same-sex characters.
It is only one step further in the series' long-running dedication to the freedom of player choice.
Are we pushing the rainbow envelope too far? You won't be able to help it with this one.
My editor insisted on the inclusion of Robot Unicorn Attack in this list but unrelenting personal bias means that Robot Unicorn Attack 2 is the game that makes the cut.
As Destructoid put it:
"Robot Unicorn Attack 2 is happiness. It is hope. It is always. It is yours."
Everything that made the first game so much fun is still here, and more beautiful than ever. Your robot unicorn's mane is hypnotic, a rippling rainbow battle flag as you face an unending path in two different worlds at war: one of Rainbows and Harmony and one of Ice and Wonder.
For a long while, this was a staple title in everything I praised about a free-to-play game. Sure, there were in-game purchases, but they weren't necessary, and did nothing to spoil the entertainment factor of running, jumping, and smashing your highly customizable robot unicorn to bits.
Recent updates have dimmed the wow factor a little, with video ad popups that make this game prone to crashing, but it is still my go-to for a quick and pretty pick-me-up.
In similar vein, BioWare deserves a second mention for its uphill fight to make a critical success with the Dragon Age series. Its wide variety of romance options in the face of criticism and a number of personal attacks.
As David Galder, lead writer for Dragon Age: Inquisition, and self-described gay man has this to say about the studio's stance on the subject:
“We make roleplaying games, which means that the character you play doesn’t have to be yourself, but I believe there’s an element where having a game acknowledge that you exist can be validating in a way most people never consider–no doubt because they have no need for validation, and thus no knowledge as to what the lack of it can do to someone.
“It may not be much, but it’s not nothing, and people tell us all the time its not nothing. We receive heartfelt messages of how much our efforts mean all the time, and it galls me to consider how the assumption out there is that we should consider these individuals less important than those who say hateful things, that placating the hateful should be more of a priority for us or any developer.”
And while EA regularly courts the scorn of gamers across the globe for its financial models and general money-grubbing tactics, the publisher is just as firm about its support for BioWare's "controversial" content, most recently about the Dragon Age series and Star Wars: The Old Republic (which did not include same-sex content at launch).
Sometimes it isn't about the struggle, it's about the sheer licence to be as wacky as you want.
To satisfy both camps is last year's indie gem Mount Your Friends by Stegersaurus Software Inc., the extreme simulated sporting sensation sweeping the digital nation.
"Mount Your Friends is a fiercely competitive sporting event for you to play with your friends in the contextual security of your own home, assuming that your home is not composed of sexual innuendo. If it is, we may suggest buying a new home or at least getting the current one cleaned professionally.
Mount Your Friends is a physics based competitive climbing game where what you climb is each other. Players take turns climbing to the top of a tower of previous climbers (and a goat) working to become the new highest point before time runs out. If you run out of time before reaching the top, you're eliminated. It's simple to get into, but difficulty to master. Adept competitors can create massive towers by flinging themselves faster than simple climbing methods can attain. Of course, you may also end up just falling all the way down a tower if you miss!"
The subject of many a hilarious Let's Play and drunken Raid Call with friends, this game has everything:
If your style of gaming is more low-key and less cutting edge, bring it back to basics with Gay Monopoly.
That is, if you can find a copy.
This tongue in cheek version of the classic Monopoly board game is a celebration of gay life.
Altered player tokens now include: a Jeep, a teddy bear, a blow dryer, a leather cap, handcuffs, or a stiletto heel. Properties have been changed to fit the gay theme (e.g. Fire Island and Castro Street). Instead of buying houses and hotels, you can buy bars and bathhouses, and the colorful money denominations include $3.00 bills.
"One departure from the original Monopoly is the inclusion of Family Pride cards. When landing on the appropriate space, the description of a famous gay man is read aloud, and the player who can correctly identify the person can move ahead to any space on the board. Also different is the addition of Camp Cards. When these are drawn, you must perform the indicated action (ie. 'say: 'faaabulous!' six different ways and receive $3). Finally, there are "hanky code" cards, where the player must identify what each color of the code meant, and what it meant when worn in each (left and right) rear pants pocket."
The reason you'll probably have a very hard time finding a copy of these (and no, it's not because of the Westboro Baptists) is that rumor has it only a very limited number of copies were ever made.
Produced by The Parker Sisters, a division of Fire Island games, the company was sued for copyright infringement by Parker Brothers and is no longer in business.
This indie Twine game isn't exactly affiliated with Star Wars: The Old Republic, but it is a response of sorts to the somewhat bizarre addition of the "gay planet" Makeb in one of the recent content updates to the free-to-play MMO.
As mentioned before, same-sex relationships have made their way into the Star Wars game, but thus far it is isolated to a single planet - and you have to pay to go there (which has since been jokingly described as pay-to-gay).
A text-based choose-your-own adventure, the premise to The Hunt for the Gay Planet is simple:
"You've heard rumors of a secret paradise planet where people like you can be people like you, a glittering world where women walk arm-in-arm with women, where you can feel the heat of a lady's reciprocating gaze without having to feel the burn of a thousand judgemental stares on your skin.
Lesbionica. The gay planet. Let's find it."
If you have 15 minutes to spare, this free Twine title is bound to make you smile.
Now that you've found the softer landing strip into the wacky world of Twine games with The Hunt for the Gay Planet, here follows my personal re-introduction to the Choose Your Own Adventure concept as an adult - Anne Hathaway: Erotic Mouthscape.
In this overcharged pink text-based title, you as the player take on the role of a diminutive person inhabiting the erotic ivory cave of Anne Hathaway's mouth.
Yes, you did read that right.
The first time your story branches out, you have the choice to:
What will you choose?
A departure from sexual innuendo, fluff, and rainbows, The Last of Us is one of those mega-hit games which present LGBT characters like main character Ellie in the best way possible - quietly. It is an integral part to their character, but not the whole of it, and certainly not what defines them.
Even as the game is praised for not binding women into traditional gender roles, GLAAD praised Bill as "one of the most intriguing LGBt characters of 2013 ... deeply flawed, but wholly unique."
According to Sam Einhorn of GayGamer.net, revealing Bill's sexuality "added to his character ... without really tokenizing him".
Even more subtly than, the Metal Gear Solid series has always presented a number of generally un-talked about subjects - and not necessarily for shock value alone.
Once again accepting a character's sexuality as a matter of course rather than as a spectacle, bisexual character Vamp is "outed" by Snake when he explains the nature of his relationship with Navy commander Scott Dolph in Metal Gear Solid 2.
More recently, MGS3: Snake Eater gave players the like of Volgin and Major Raikov.
These are not games for the faint of heart or the casual, and while the sexuality references come few and far in between, they are presented almost casually, a secondary aspect rather than something worth highlighting.
We gamers are not always the most tolerant, accepting, or forward-thinking group of people, and the loudest among us may not hold with the most prevailing opinions among us.
Nonetheless, here we are - with a growing number of games, both indie and AAA that continue to acknowledge the existence and the acceptance of LGBT both in-game and in real life.
#LoveWins. Embrace it.