You pull off your space boots before stepping into the soft green grass that nuzzles your ankles like a thousand happy cats.
Mainstream games, in fact even some indie games, very rarely feature queer protagonists. While there is Mass Effect, the series that gets thrown around every time someone asks for queer, lesbian or gay characters in games, it stands almost alone in a field of straight white men. Even that game has been criticized for it’s portrayal of gay characters, offering them to players almost like the sliding scale they offer to choose race or eye shape.
Anna Anthropy writes about this in the introduction for her game, The Hunt for the Gay Planet:
i’ve been saying for a while now that supposedly lgbt-friendly game developers like bioware only see queer people (lgb people, at least) as consumers. nothing could make the point more clearly than bioware’s decision to add gay romances to star wars: the old republic – on a single planet in the galaxy, which players have to pay for the privilege of visiting. pay to enter a dystopian future where queers are exiled to a far-off, backwater planet!
my usual spiel is to talk about how the only real queer representation we’re going to see in games is going to come from queer people making their own games and telling their own stories. so i made a game, my first in a while.
The Hunt for the Gay Planet is a 15 minute Twine game about a character in search of Lesbionica, the gay planet. Your character has heard rumors and wants to find their way to this alleged paradise. The game plays on several elements. For starters there is Anna Anthropy’s clever writing, which balances the trope-heavy 50′s science fiction feel of the game with the highly sexualized characters and arcs. As always, Anthropy does not shy away from sexuality, so while the game is arguably comedic at it’s core, if you get uncomfortable around elements of sex or domination this is probably not the game for you.
For the most part, The Hunt for the Gay Planet is not a complicated game. It doesn’t rely on some of the more charged bells and whistles that other Twine games have since utilized. This is not to say that the game is lacking — this almost naked approach allows the more complex nuances of the game to shine through. At its core, the Hunt for the Gay Planet is a response to the commercialization and marginalization of queer gamers. In Gay Planet you are not the standard white male, but rather a woman in search of her preferred sexual partner and acceptance:
You’ve heard rumors of a secret paradise planet where people like you can be people like you, a glittering world where women walk arm-in-arm with women, where you can feel the heat of a lady’s reciprocating gaze without having to feel the burn of a thousand judgemental stares on your skin.
The Hunt for the Gay Planet brings up several interesting points in this regard, and it cannot be read without the author’s note in mind. With that in mind, the game still hits a sweet spot of humor and wit that Anthropy’s games have been known for. It is is equal parts statement, art, and game. You can play it at the Auntie Pixelante site.