Pride at Firesprite: Games and Gaming

Category: studio

28 June 2022 10:33 AM
Pride at Firesprite

Our sprites share their favourite games and memorable LGBTQIA+ gaming moments

We’re so excited to introduce our ‘Pride at Firesprite’ series! A space to discuss community-driven questions and areas of significance and importance to our sprites.

In these upcoming articles, our sprites explore LGBTQIA+ representation in games and highlight some of their favourite moments in gaming. They explore inclusivity in games and discuss what the industry can do to foster a more supportive environment for devs and players alike. Our sprites also tell us what makes them proud to be who they are, they share some compassionate advice with their younger selves, and much more.

Today, we’re talking games!! We catch-up with our sprites to discover their favourite game of all time and celebrate games and gaming moments of personal significance.

Pride at Firesprite: Louie

Hi sprites! Let’s start with everyone’s favourite question… So, what’s your all-time favourite game? Such an easy one to answer, right?!

“An impossible decision! If I absolutely HAD to choose, I'll pick Tales from the Borderlands, but ask me again tomorrow and my answer will change. Tales is a game that starts with such joy, and every episode it keeps getting better. There's this rich humour that comes from the story-within-a-story format, and a real heart to the cast – It's Borderlands humour at its best, and a good look at what the world is like for the little guys. I've played it through at least five times, and it never stops being incredible. The characters are my favourite in any game I've played, staying just on the right side of deviously scummy to stay likable. Plus, it has the best soundtrack of any game, full stop. I could never recommend it enough.”
- Miles, Junior UI Artist

“My favorite game is Undertale, which also includes queer characters. It's a perfect mix of good music, graphics with personality and an interesting storyline. And the way the community has appropriated the game is as interesting as the source material.”
- Julien, Gameplay Programmer

“Hmm tough choice but it might have to be Bloodborne at this point as it combines my love of all things gothic and cosmic horror.”
- Louie, Artist

“It’s hard to choose just one, but given how excited I am for the sequel, I’d have to choose Hollow Knight as my all-round favourite. It’s a difficult 2D action platformer inspired by the Souls series, with intoxicatingly rich and mysterious environmental storytelling. You play as a small and seemingly insignificant character lost in a big, scary world - and aren’t we all!"
- Josh, Intermediate Programmer

“My favourite game is hard to choose, but what I'm hooked on right now is Hades, which also has some LGBTQIA+ characters (it's ancient Greek myth, hard to avoid!) and wonderful dialogue and storytelling. Also, the art is incredible, which is an instant win for me.”
- Han (she/they), Environment Artist

Pride at Firesprite: Guilherme

Tell us about a game, or an element of a game, with LGBTQIA+ themes which resonated with you and why.

“If we’re going to demand a social conscience from our entertainment products, it’s important to acknowledge the stepping stones that have helped us progress to where we are now. Fable immediately comes to mind as the first time I really considered same-sex relationships in the context of video games - I must have been 8 or 9 years old. In Fable, if NPCs come to like you enough, they’ll fall in love with you. Comically, same-sex relationships were a coding quirk - Dene Carter of Lionhead Studios said: “We'd have had to write extra code to remove that in the case of same-sex interactions. This seemed like a ridiculous waste of time”. When the game launched, publisher fears abated as the feature was ranked as the topmost favourite by fan polls.

It makes sense - open-ended RPGs that emphasise the importance of giving players as many opportunities as possible to shape their own gameplay experience can’t exactly hide behind arguments of periodicity or opinionated narrative direction to exclude this kind of choice. Nowadays, we want representation that doesn’t require you to push the ‘gay button’, as designer Anna Anthropy put it, but rather stories and systems that challenge the idea that anything other than straight is abnormal.

Regardless, figuring out your identity is a lifelong journey, and I appreciated Fable for exposing me to new ideas at a formative period of curiosity in my life.”
- Josh, Intermediate Programmer

“A game with LGBT characters that caught me by surprise and brought me to tears of joy when I realised what was happening was Unpacking - I don't want to spoil things but the suspicion to slow confirmation of what was happening was so wholesome and exciting for me, I hadn't seen this kind of narrative in a game before.”
- Han (she/they), Environment Artist

“I have been enjoying the breaking down of binary male/female options in character creators. I like that now a lot of games name them based on just shape or give unrestricted access to characterisation options no matter what you pick. Even as a cis person, it feels nice to have the freedom to express yourself through the character however you want.”
- Louie, Artist

A Normal Lost Phone, for reasons I can't explain without asking you to play the game, but it's a very short and memorable experience that I hold close to my heart."
- Miles, Junior UI Artist

“I love the character design in Monster Prom. That's a good example of how trying to create characters that are inclusive and appealing to everyone can really make something original, colourful and just fun.”
- Julien, Gameplay Programmer

“My favorite game, Guild Wars 2, does a lot to include lgbt characters. ArenaNet make the effort to include lgbt characters throughout the game and has some instances where gender neutral language and options are used.

The company stance on canonicity of lgbt characters is: “It is totally cool to roleplay an LGBTQA character, regardless of their species. […] You're free to create the character you want, and you're not obligated to incorporate prejudice into their backstory if that's not something you want to explore.”

More recently, in new content, missions where you need to infiltrate an area and use disguises include non-binary options: “The Kestrels organization within Cantha allows a choice of feminine, masculine and non-binary disguises when helping them infiltrate the Jade Brotherhood and Speakers camps. A few members of this organization are referred to consistently with exclusively gender-neutral language.””
- Guilherme, Programmer

Thank you so much to our sprites for taking the time to chat with us! Find more soon in our Pride at Firesprite series when we explore identity, industry considerations and more.