Lesbian and Bisexual Characters in Video Games

We can have a little escapism. As a treat. When life gets a little too depressing, where can we turn? Video games. We can live out our wildest fantasies in these computer generated realities. Like ousting a maniacal dictator, having enough money to buy a house, and having no bills. But if you’re a lesbian especially, video games give us a chance to create narratives where we are the heroes. With thousands of games out there, how do you know which to play? We got you covered with a list of lesbian and bisexual characters in video games.

Mass Effect Trilogy

Mass Effect Trilogy/BioWare

Bioware’s futuristic space adventure has you playing as Commander Shepard. Ancient synthetic beings called Reapers have returned to the Milky Way to harvest organics. It’s up to you to stop them. Players can choose a male or female Shepard and customize their appearance. The game also allows you to be a lesbian if you so choose. Across three games, you have three choices of lady loves.

Dr. Liara T’Soni

 

The archeologist turned action hero comes from a female only race called the asari. Imagine living on a planet surrounded only by women, what an absolute dream. In any case, players have the option to make this romance span all three games. Sex doesn’t matter to asari, so male and female characters get the same storyline. Asari also have the ability to mate with and have biological children with anyone of any race, of any sex. While she and the commander do talk about having kids one day, we don’t get to see the little blue babies. The doctor starts off quite shy, but war hardens her heart. But not so much that she can’t fall deeply in love with the commander. Their love story is as epic as the trilogy itself.

Yeoman Kelly Chambers

Players meet Yeoman Chambers in Mass Effect 2. While her primary job is to keep Shepard updated on all her emails and to pass on messages or requests from squad mates. She’s also a psychologist. So every now and then she’ll mention the emotional states of the squad as you undertake a suicide mission. Well, you’d be a little stressed too if the fate of the entire galaxy rests on your shoulders and you might die in the process. Once again, the sex of the player doesn’t matter as either a male or female Shepard can romance the yeoman. But, if you’re the loyal type and some of us are, flirting with Kelly doesn’t affect your romance with Liara as she isn’t featured in the main game.

Specialist Samantha Traynor

Samantha Traynor is the only openly lesbian character in the original Mass Effect trilogy. Only female Shepards can romance the the comm specialist. Essentially, she has the same job as Yeoman Chambers, but her character gets more screen time and a more flushed out romance. The relationship starts out strictly professional, but certain dialogue options and actions can change that. One minute it’s a friendly game of chess, and next thing you know you’re showering together. Just another fantasy to live out in a game, am I right ladies? Players get more of Traynor in the Citadel DLC. The extra content gives players an opportunity to take a dip in the hot tub with her.

Mass Effect: Andromeda

Mass Effect: Andromeda/BioWare

This game takes place nearly 600 years after the original trilogy, in a completely different galaxy. The Reaper attack prompted some powerful people to send arks of people of all races to Andromeda to find a new home in the event that Commander Shepard was unsuccessful. But of course a new galaxy presents new challenges as invaders called the kett have been terrorizing the galaxy’s indigenous inhabitants. It’s up to Ryder and crew to rally everyone together to defea

We can have a little escapism. As a treat. When life gets a little too depressing, where can we turn? Video games. We can live out our wildest fantasies in these computer generated realities. Like ousting a maniacal dictator, having enough money to buy a house, and having no bills. But if you’re a lesbian especially, video games give us a chance to create narratives where we are the heroes. With thousands of games out there, how do you know which to play? We got you covered with a list of lesbian and bisexual characters in video games.

Mass Effect Trilogy

Mass Effect Trilogy/BioWare

Bioware’s futuristic space adventure has you playing as Commander Shepard. Ancient synthetic beings called Reapers have returned to the Milky Way to harvest organics. It’s up to you to stop them. Players can choose a male or female Shepard and customize their appearance. The game also allows you to be a lesbian if you so choose. Across three games, you have three choices of lady loves.

Dr. Liara T’Soni

 

The archeologist turned action hero comes from a female only race called the asari. Imagine living on a planet surrounded only by women, what an absolute dream. In any case, players have the option to make this romance span all three games. Sex doesn’t matter to asari, so male and female characters get the same storyline. Asari also have the ability to mate with and have biological children with anyone of any race, of any sex. While she and the commander do talk about having kids one day, we don’t get to see the little blue babies. The doctor starts off quite shy, but war hardens her heart. But not so much that she can’t fall deeply in love with the commander. Their love story is as epic as the trilogy itself.

Yeoman Kelly Chambers

Players meet Yeoman Chambers in Mass Effect 2. While her primary job is to keep Shepard updated on all her emails and to pass on messages or requests from squad mates. She’s also a psychologist. So every now and then she’ll mention the emotional states of the squad as you undertake a suicide mission. Well, you’d be a little stressed too if the fate of the entire galaxy rests on your shoulders and you might die in the process. Once again, the sex of the player doesn’t matter as either a male or female Shepard can romance the yeoman. But, if you’re the loyal type and some of us are, flirting with Kelly doesn’t affect your romance with Liara as she isn’t featured in the main game.

Specialist Samantha Traynor

Samantha Traynor is the only openly lesbian character in the original Mass Effect trilogy. Only female Shepards can romance the the comm specialist. Essentially, she has the same job as Yeoman Chambers, but her character gets more screen time and a more flushed out romance. The relationship starts out strictly professional, but certain dialogue options and actions can change that. One minute it’s a friendly game of chess, and next thing you know you’re showering together. Just another fantasy to live out in a game, am I right ladies? Players get more of Traynor in the Citadel DLC. The extra content gives players an opportunity to take a dip in the hot tub with her.

Mass Effect: Andromeda

Mass Effect: Andromeda/BioWare

This game takes place nearly 600 years after the original trilogy, in a completely different galaxy. The Reaper attack prompted some powerful people to send arks of people of all races to Andromeda to find a new home in the event that Commander Shepard was unsuccessful. But of course a new galaxy presents new challenges as invaders called the kett have been terrorizing the galaxy’s indigenous inhabitants. It’s up to Ryder and crew to rally everyone together to defeat them. Just like previous games, you can either play as a male (Scott) or female (Sara) Ryder.

Pelessaria B’Sayle “Peebee”

Via Instagram @masseffect

This game gives us another asari love interest, but she’s nothing like Liara. An adventurer and self proclaimed loner, Peebee prefers to go her own way. She doesn’t exactly join the team to help in the mission. She simply saw it as a means to an end for her personal agenda. But eventually, she finds a family in the squad. Either a male or female Ryder can romance Peebee. She’s the no strings attached type, but as the game progress she finally admits she’d like to be more than friends. Yet another fantasy for the lesbian always wondering, “but she only likes me as a friend, right?” Despite the urge to leave, Peebee stays by Ryder’s side until the end.

Dr. Suvi Anwar

Via Instagram @masseffect

We found another lesbian, Captain! Astrophysicist and molecular biologist Suvi Anwar is only about the ladies. A male Ryder can try, but he will be rejected. Dr. Anwar is both a woman of science and faith. But disagreeing with her religious beliefs doesn’t turn her off. In fact, she welcomes the debate. The overall romance is very cute, but doesn’t feel quite as flushed out as the others. In fact, there is a lot less content with Suvi. Which is a damn shame because she is adorable. And the fact that she and Ryder can still be a couple despite their beliefs not aligning 100% was very refreshing.

Vetra Nyx

Via Instagram @masseffect

The freelance mercenary and smuggler is the first time we get a female turian love interest. Like Peebee, the sex of your Ryder doesn’t matter. She’s spent her life working odd jobs to make ends meet so she can support her sister. Oh girl, we’ve all been there. Now, she’s in Andromeda hoping for a better life. All those years of hustling gave her street-smarts and a quick wit. She always seems to know a guy who has the exact thing you need, no matter how illegal. She’s so used to taking care of others, that she’s forgotten what it’s like to have someone have her back. But meeting Ryder changes that. Her romance arc is similar to Peebee’s in that you go on a loyalty mission, she has her hesitations due to her past, but eventually you work it out.

Dragon Age: Origins

Dragon Age: Origins/BioWare

This fantasy epic was made by the same studio as Mass Effect, so it’s very similar in terms of how the game works. Players can chose to be either male or female, but this time players are given the option to be human, a dwarf, a city elf, or a Dalish elf. Either way, red-headed bard Leliana is the female romance option for this game.

While the other squad mates may poke fun at her for being a simple girl from the chantry, her dark past is revealed the more you get to know her. Despite her struggles to come to terms with her mistakes and the abuse she suffered, she is very loving. And her attempts to let your Warden know how she feels are so cute, you just might find yourself grinning. While the game might end, Leliana’s journey doesn’t. Her romance doesn’t span as long as Liara’s, but her presence in later games still tugs at the heartstrings.

Dragon Age 2

Dragon Age II/BioWare

The second game in the “Dragon Age” saga essentially begins around the same time you meet Leliana in the first game and spans 10 years. But this game focuses on either Marian or Garrett Hawke. If you choose to play as the female Hawke, Marian, you have the option to play the game as a lesbian. This time around, the entire Hawke clan flee their home in Ferelden to escape the Blight. They begin as refugees in Kirkwall, but through Hawke’s actions they eventually move out of the slums and into Kirkwall’s version of Beverly Hills. Despite just wanting to provide for her family, Hawke finds herself in the middle of a mage-templar conflict. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any time for love, though.

Merrill

The Dalish elf is very nervous when you first meet her. At first glance she seems like an innocent young woman who knows very little of the world. Take a second, look, fool! Merrill is a blood mage, the most dangerous type of mage in the Dragon Age universe. Either a male or female Hawke can romance Merrill. At one point, she laments the idea of her clan disapproving of her relationship with a human. But in the end, she discards any doubts. She tells a female Hawke how much she admires her. Female Hawkes also have a nice interaction with Isabela, where they talk openly and honestly about the relationship. Isabela even gives her approval. Meanwhile, a male Hawke gets threatened. And that is completely fair. Once the relationship is established, Merrill essentially moves into Hawke’s mansion. In the end, when all of Hawke’s companions go their separate ways, Merrill stays.

Isabela

Pirate captain Isabela is a stark contrast from Merrill. She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to get it. Again, it doesn’t matter if you play as a male or female Hawke, you’ve got a shot with her. She likes to have fun and be free. But helping for the sake of helping tends to annoy her. The relationship starts off as a friends with benefits type thing. But saying the right thing causes Isabela to think about something more serious. This relationship is certainly tumultuous as her urge to steal things gets everyone in a lot of trouble. But no matter how tough it gets, she stands by Hawke. She even states she might change her ways. As is the case with Merrill, she remains with Hawke even after all the other companions have gone their own way.

Dragon Age: Inquisition

Dragon Age: Inquisition/BioWare

Historically speaking, inquisitions have never been a good thing. But following the events of Dragon Age 2, this time it’s actually necessary. The mage-templar war has spread through Thedas, and ancient magistrate Corypheus takes advantage of the chaos to rip open a hole in the sky. No big deal, just a tear in reality that spews demons into the world. It’s up to the inquisitor to stop him. Just like the previous games, the player can pick the sex and race of their inquisitor. Some familiar faces return in this installment, like Leliana. Should the inquisitor ask enough questions, Leliana opens up about her relationship with the Warden in the first game. She mentions missing her, wanting to be with her, and how truly happy they are in their relationship. In fact, she can’t wait for this whole debacle to be over so they can be reunited. It’s a shame we don’t actually get to see her and the warden together, but we’ll take our crumbs. Hawke also returns and mentions her relationship with either Merrill or Isabela. While still together, they are forced to part due to the impending end of the world.

Sera

We have our first lesbian squamate in Dragon Age, ladies. The archer is something of an elven Robin Hood. She takes from the rich and redistributes to the poor. She’s impulsive and a lover of pranks. But, she also seems to struggle with her elven identity as she was raised by humans. Surviving the blight and living on her own for some time, she taught herself to fight. This relationship certainly has its ups and downs. It seems every companion disapproves of it, but Sera loves the fact that the inquisitor doesn’t hide their relationship. It’s like Hayley Kiyoko said, “what I need is for you to be sure.” And if you’re sure, you’ll be rewarded. Throughout all the arguments and shenanigans, the inquisitor and Sera have the chance to get married in the Trespasser DLC. 

Josephine Montilyet

The Inquisition’s resident ambassador will romance either a male or female inquisitor of any race. Josie is Leliana’s close friend and when you show interest in her, she acts like a protective big sister. While’s she’s always got her business smile on while dealing with prissy nobles, she’ll be genuine with you. Even going so far as to mention that she once killed a man. Because of this, she renounced all violence. But the fact that you’re constantly fighting demons, ancient magistrates, and dragons doesn’t get in the way of your relationship. You have to be supportive of your girl’s hobbies even if you aren’t into them, right? If you want a Disney movie-type romance, Josephine is your lady. This romance has duels, dramatic fairytale kisses, and assassins. What’s not to like?

The Last of Us

A post apocalyptic America overrun by mushroom zombies is no place for anyone, let alone a 14-year-old lesbian. But there she is, kicking ass and surviving the apocalypse. All the while, she manages to keep her sense of humor and love of pop culture. While players spend most of the first game playing as Joel, Ellie’s father figure, there are instances where you can take control of her. One such instance is the Left Behind DLC. This flashback shows us Ellie’s first kiss, who unfortunately is bitten and dies. Ellie, however, is immune to the virus. She survives long enough to make it into the game’s sequel. Nineteen-year-old Ellie is the protagonist this time when The Last of Us Part 2 arrives later this year. In the trailer, Ellie slow dances and shares a kiss with a female love interest. But, that happy moment doesn’t last long. The gameplay trailer has us believing Ellie is out for revenge. Avenging a lost lover, perhaps? We hope not!

Gone Home

Gone Home/ The Fullbright Company

If you’re looking for a little less violence and something a little more indie, Gone Home is the game for you. The first-person exploration game has you playing as Katie Greenbriar. After spending some time aboard, Katie comes home to an empty house. You find a note from your younger sister telling you not to investigate what happened. And like any sister, you completely ignore her and do it anyway. While Katie herself is not a lesbian, her younger sister, Samantha, is. As you explore the house, you realize Sam found herself a girlfriend. Mom and dad found out. They were not happy about it. And once Sam’s girlfriend is sent away for military service, Sam becomes depressed. As Katie pieces together more clues, she finds out Sam went to meet her girlfriend in another town because she decided to ditch the military to be with her.

Overwatch

Overwatch/ Blizzard Entertainment

Arguably one of the most popular multiplayer games of the last decade, Overwatch was a phenomenon. And the game’s poster girl, Tracer, was everywhere. What a pleasant surprise when it was revealed she’s a lesbian! Even more surprising was the mostly positive response from fans. While it’s not apparent that Tracer, real name Lena Oxton, is a lesbian due to the nature of the game, it was revealed in comic books tied to the game that she has a girlfriend named Emily. If you’re ever in the mood to play this multiplayer first-person shooter with your friends, you’ll at least have one lesbian character to choose. She’s classified as an offense player, and that makes perfect sense considering she dual-wields pulse pistols. She may not be the heaviest hitter, but what she lacks in brute strength she makes up for in speed.

Start New Game?

The lesbians and bisexual characters in video games aren’t perfect. Many times it can actually be quite frustrating to wonder why the heterosexual romances get more content. The video game industry has a long way to go in terms of well-written, fully fleshed-out lesbians and same-sex romances. There can be no real change until more female, and specifically lesbian writers are given a chance. Having said that, I am thankful to have had these games when I was younger. I played these games when there was little to no lesbian representation in the media, let alone lesbians of color. When I first played Mass Effect, I played in dead of night with the TV muted so my mother wouldn’t wake up. I didn’t want her to see a character I created to look just like me romancing another woman. It was the first time I got to see someone like me as the hero, the first time I was able to create lesbian stories I wanted to see. Maybe they’re just games, but to me it became a way to escape the nightmare of my waking life. And even a way to stave off self-destructive thoughts. Sure I was saving the world onscreen, but I didn’t realize I was also in the process of saving myself.