3 Video Games With Sapphic Storylines: Lesbian Love in a Virtual World

There is a special kind of joy in replaying your favorite video games. Visiting these familiar, fictional worlds can offer a welcome escape from the challenges of everyday life. There is great relief in leaving behind politics for quests, magic, and combat. More hope can be found even in Fallout’s nuclear wasteland than the average news cycle. Video games have the power to delight; especially when they give us the opportunity to explore lesbian storylines.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is considered one of the greatest video games of all time. It smashed records and won countless awards. People all around the world delighted in the Dragonborn’s adventures. Almost a decade on, Skyrim is still going strong. While relationships are a relatively small feature in this extraordinary world, part of what makes Skyrim so special is the potential for lesbian romance.

As you travel around Skyrim, every so often a woman will offer a particular greeting: “It’s a fine day with you around.” If you hear this phrase, it’s time to grab your cloak and exit ye olde inn because, dear Dragonborn, you’ve pulled.

Considering it’s a medieval fantasy, the people of Skyrim are very open-minded about same-sex relationships. There is not a flicker of judgement from a single innkeeper as my female companion and I rent a shared room. We can get married at the Temple of Mara, where our friends gather to watch a priestess blesses our union. Every Jarl will sell us a house in their hold, where we can rest between adventures.

Lesbian couples can even adopt children and raise them together. While the Dragonborn does tend to be a helicopter parent – you miss a lot of your child’s firsts while saving the world from dragons – the kids have a good life.

Bethesda Softworks, the studio behind Skyim, have a decent track record when it comes to lesbian representation. The year before Skyrim, they released Fallout: New Vegas – another classic RPG. In character customisation, gamers have the option to choose the Cherchez La Femme perk if the Courier is female and the Confirmed Bachelor perk if their Courier is male. These perks unlock some flirtatious dialogue options (and more) with non-playable characters of the same sex.

In Fallout 4, the next game in the series, relationships became a bigger feature. As more than one Tumblr post has pointed out, the main character is canonically bisexual. Post-apocalyptic Boston does not discriminate when it comes to dating. Although the Sole Survivor starts of the game living in a house straight out of the 1950s – complete with a dog and white picket fence – this traditional life ends abruptly. When a nuclear bomb falls, the Sole Survivor’s family collapses.

As the Sole Survivor crosses the Commonwealth in search of her son, there are plenty of opportunities for same-sex romance. Personally, my Sole Survivor tends to fall for Piper – a plucky journalist who is handy in a fight. Though trickier to balance between near-death escapes, it is possible to play as a polyamorous Sole Survivor. Not all of your partners will be thrilled. But the option is there.

Lesbian love finds a home in Stardew Valley too. A simpler world than Skyrim or Fallout, your objective is to restore your grandfather’s farm to its former glory. You make friends along the way. And, as you begin to put down roots in the community, there’s the opportunity for more. The game is egalitarian in design – an equal number of female and male marriage candidates are available to players of both sexes.

Stardew Valley is a gentle world with achievable goals. Water your crops, feed your animals, sell your produce – the path to success is comfortingly straightforward. Relationships are easy too. Win your love’s heart by presenting her with a gift twice a week. Although this approach to love is rather transactional, I suspect that I’d fall in love with a woman who brought me goat’s cheese or fresh strawberries twice a week.

There is no homophobia in this wholesome little town. Mayor Lewis will gladly marry you and your beloved in the town square, while the community bands together to celebrate. The adoption process takes a fortnight to complete, no matter the sex of the prospective parents.

Skyrim, Fallout, and Stardew Valley are all very different video games. But same-sex relationships makes each of them that much more fun to play. After all, an imaginary world where heterosexuality is the only option offers no relief from grim reality.

Improving character customisation has allowed video games to give better representation to those who play them. There is a welcome shift away from straight, white, male characters as the default setting. Lesbian lives are becoming a bigger part of the games that provide us shelter and entertainment. This is a definite step in the right direction. Because what’s the fun in a life – even a fictional life – without lesbians?