It’s LGBT History Month, so we’re here to give you a quick lesson in gaming history with eight queer video games you really should know about.
LGBT+ representation in games has definitely picked up steam in recent years, with indie developers in particular offering fun, authentic and thought-provoking queer games. But since the 80s the LGBT+ community have been visible in video games – even if you haven’t heard of them…
Caper in the Castro
For many years, Caper in the Castro was thought to be lost. Originally released in 1989, it is widely considered to be the first LGBT+ video game. Its developer, CM Ralph, chose to release it as ‘Charity Ware’ on underground Bulletin Board Systems, urging any players to donate money to an AIDS organisation of their choosing.
In a 2014 interview with Paste, she explains: “In 1988 I had moved from Southern California (behind the orange curtain) to the San Francisco Bay Area… I wanted to give back to the community and also create a way to raise money for AIDS Charities.” It wasn’t until 2017, however, that Ralph uncovered floppy disks of the game and it was swiftly uploaded to the Internet Archive for anyone to play.
Playing as lesbian detective Tracker McDyke, the game is a noir point-and-click adventure in search of kidnapped drag queen Tessy LaFemme set in San Francisco’s prominent gay district.
A product of its time, there’s even a storyline about infecting the alcohol with a poisonous bacteria that directly parallels the AIDS crisis of the time. With its “…it’s a Gayme” tagline, Caper in the Castro is a proudly queer game released in a troubling time for the community and a key part of LGBT+ gaming history.