Thursday, April 18, 2024

We Need More Gay Pirates in Video Games


If there’s one thing you need to know about me, it’s that pirates really are my bread and butter. I’m obsessed with the Golden Age of Piracy, and that obsession left me going down the holes of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag and a STARZ tv show called Black Sails. The difference between the two mediums is that one only has a minimum of two gay pirates and the other has gay pirates everywhere you look.

Black Sails is far from a perfect show, but one thing it did very well at is creating a world where being queer is the norm, rather than being the exception. Ultimately, it tells a tale of how rich, powerful white men are the true evil of the world due to their constant colonizing in order to make a ‘civilized world.’ Because of this, many people are shunned by society, cast away if they don’t ‘fit’ the perfect ideal, whether that be because of their sexuality, ethnicity, or class. This leads you to the main characters of Black Sails, all of whom, are pirates.

Black Sails finished quite a while ago, but it’s still the best medium to use to describe why we need more gay pirate games. The majority of the characters are queer, and it has a love story between two men that is central to the entire plot for the whole four seasons. More importantly, it embraces queer culture in a way that is accurate to how it was accepted back during the 17th and 18th century.

We know from books and articles that the age of piracy was full of queer individuals and their stories. The fact that it is hardly touched upon in the various mediums of the world, with Black Sails and Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag being very minuscule examples, is a crime.

Gay love stories are possible even in the most extreme of settings. Sometimes the more extreme the setting is, the more we feel deeply connected to it. Queerness, after all, is entirely resistant of what people consider to be the norm. We are about revolution and fighting for what we believe in, and while pirates shouldn’t be entirely romanticized, as there were some incredibly nasty pirates around, there is a reason that we attach ourselves to figures of rebellion like pirates: we too, have been vilified by society.

Piracy is history that’s well worth learning from a queer perspective, but what’s better than living it through video games? Ubisoft’s Skull and Bones have been awfully quiet since it was first announced back in 2017. A shame, since while Assassin’s Creed series have included pirates and raiders inside Black Flag, there was little exploration in the queer lifestyle that many pirates had. I doubt Skull and Bones would fill that gap, but the chance to form a gay pirate crew with my friends would have been a nice option.

That’s why we need more gay pirates in video games, to allow us to express ourselves in ways that we can sum up in a single phrase: be gay, do crimes.

Aimee Hart

[She/They] Aimee Hart specializes in queer fandom, video games and tabletop, having started her career writing for numerous websites like The Verge, Polygon, Input Magazine and more. Her goal now is to boost LGBTQ+ voices in the video games industry.