February is an absolutely packed month for games this year, but, with the possible exception of Monster Outbreak on Switch, there are oddly no big new games worth playing this week. So, instead, for absolutely no reason at all, why not use this lull to play some great trans games that were made by and/or feature transgender people?
Members of the transgender community have always been an important part of the games industry. Modern microchips wouldn’t be the same without the pivotal work by Lynn Conway at IBM, and Danielle Bunten Berry created one of the first successful Atari multiplayer games; M.U.L.E, which was incidentally one of EA’s first five games. So, it makes sense that when I put the call out on Twitter for recommendations of anything I might have missed while writing this article, I was inundated with brilliant suggestions. I can’t include them all here, so you should also check out the thread on Twitter and support these cool games.
Great trans games out now
It’s a few years old now, but this side-scrolling platformer about climbing a mountain (and mental health) is a must play. It is a complete masterpiece. Celeste’s protagonist is Madeline, who was confirmed to be a trans woman in 2020. Celeste was made by Maddy Thorson, who is also a trans woman and came out in 2020. While were talking about people and things that came out in 2020, there is also the Farewell DLC for the game, which you should also have, because it is good.
2. Tell Me Why
When you think of a mainstream trans game, Tell Me Why is probably the first one you go to. Released in 2020 (there is a theme here) by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Xbox Game Studios, Tell Me Why follows the story of two identical twins, Tyler and Alison Ronan, trying to unravel a mystery about their childhood. It’s a quiet narrative game with some light supernatural elements and an interesting cast of characters. One of the leads of the game, Tyler, is a trans man, voiced by trans actor August Aiden Black. While there weren’t any trans developers on the team that I’m aware of, the writing team worked closely with several expert groups, including GLAAD, to make sure they nailed the representation. Years later, it’s still a game I think about frequently, and is one that I highly recommend. It’s available on Xbox Game Pass, Steam and a bunch of other places.
3. We Are OFK
If you stood near a queer person for more than 15 minutes in the past few months, there is a chance you have heard of We Are OFK (or that could just say a lot about my friendship group). It’s a game about a band, fighting over lyrics, falling in love, and trying to survive in Los Angeles. It’s kinda like if the 2001 Josie and the Pussycats movie was more emotionally grounded, and made as a game in 2022, but also the queerest game you’ve ever played. Plus the music is excellent. All round, it’s just really great.
Dragon Age Inquisition
Dragon Age Inquisition is an older game to be sure, but it still marks a key milestone in trans representation in mainstream games, so it deserves a spot on this list. In the game, Krem, a trans man, is the Iron Bull’s lieutenant and was created by Patrick Weekes, who uses they/them pronouns. Krem is just a relatively minor NPC, so no one should be jumping into the game expecting to play as a major trans character, and it’s disappointing that he was voiced by a cis woman. But he’s still an important character in history, and it’s also just a good game.
5. If Found …
If you’re looking for a sad but poignant game about coming out that starts with a destroying a diary, then If Found… is the game for you. I haven’t played it (it’s on my ‘to play’ list), but the trailer looks great, and it comes highly recommended.
6. Apex Legends
What is more queer than a techno witch with the ability to terraform? Probably nothing. Catalyst is one of the legends on Apex Legends, and I love her. She is in addition to Bloodhound, who is non-binary and, while we’re listing queer Legends, Makoa Gibraltar is also there and queer.
7. Red Strings Club
Red Strings Club is a really interesting cyberpunk game that explores emotions, relationships and the human condition more broadly. There is some controversy surrounding the game’s trans character, Larissa, because she is very sexualised, and because there is a puzzle involving her deadname as the answer. This can be quite triggering for some players (so be warned), but was a clunky attempt at reflecting the experience of the game’s composer, Paula Ruiz, who came out as trans during development and had the negotiate all the accounts and log ins created with her deadname. For some people that kind of acknowledgement of an upsetting experience can be liberating, while upsetting for others, so proceed with caution
8. The Last of Us Part II
The Last of Us Part II is a traumatising game that will leave you needing therapy and a big hug, and is one that you won’t stop thinking about years later. While I have issues with the portrayal of Ellie and Dina, the story of trans man (boy? His age is hard to gauge) Lev is really moving and interesting. Is it happy? No. There is no happy here. It’s the post-apocalypse and a parable about the danger of losing yourself to revenge. But it’s an important, brilliant game, and Lev’s story is one worth experiencing. But play during the day, and when you have access to hugs on demand.
9. Wylde Flowers
Wyld Flowers is a lovely, cosy, casually (and surprisingly) queer game. If you liked Stardew Valley, but thought it was a bit intense, then this witchy farming game will be up your alley. Kim, one of the romanceable characters in the village, is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, and it’s also just a super sweet game. It’s available on all the big platforms, as well as on Apple Arcade if you’re a subscriber.
10. No Longer Home
No Longer Home follows the story of two non-binary students who have to leave their home, and each other, due to circumstances beyond their control. It’s a semi-autobiographical point and click game made by two developers as a way to “explore and express the emotions that came with saying goodbye”.
11. A Normal Lost Phone
A Normal Lost Phone starts with you finding the phone of a stranger, and then having to go through their photos and messages to work out who they are so you can return it. Through that simple mechanic, you get to learn about someone’s life. It’s a puzzle game with a meaningful story that I don’t want to say too much about, lest I spoil it. Check it out.
12. Anodyne 2: Return To Dust
This is another game that I haven’t played any of yet, but came highly recommended from several people. It seems super queer, the trailer looks rad, and the art is cool. Check it out here (also on consoles).
Reviews (and this article by Claire Jackson) make Glitchhikers sound like a really interesting, introspective game. It’s one I haven’t had a chance to play, but that I keep hearing so many things about that it seems like it belongs on this list.
Made by a non-binary trans dev and featuring multiple queer characters, Ikenfell is the game to play if you want a turn-based tactical RPG set at a magical school. Frankly, it seems like the perfect game to play today.
Great games by or about trans people coming soon
I have been so keen to play Innchanted for well over a year now. It has multiple trans and queer characters in the cast, multiple trans and queer people on the dev team, and it’s a co-op adventure set in a magical bar with strong Indigenous themes. You can learn more here.
2. Solace State: Emotional Cyberpunk Stories
Solace State is, as the name suggests, an emotional cyberpunk 3D visual novel about a hacker looking for her friend as she undergoes a political awakening. Seems neat.
3. Untitled Fishing Game
All I know about this game is that it has a buff trans man and (presumably) fishing. A must play.
4. Mossfield Origins
A cosy builder game that looks delightful, from the makers of Boyfriend Dungeon.
5. Schrodinger’s Catgirl
I picked this one for the name alone. But the game also looks pretty cool.
6. Kitsune Tails
I love the look of this platformer, and you probably will too.
All up, there are so many incredible trans developers out there making what might be your next favourite game, and now seems like as good a time as any to give them some support.