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Gayming Awards 2021: Best LGBTQ Indie Game Nominees

Haven’t you heard? The Gayming Awards is set to broadcast worldwide on Twitch at www.twitch.tv/gaymingmag/ on February 24th 2021, at 8pm GMT (3pm ET, 12pm PT). With the award show we’ll show off so many thrilling categories, including Gayming Awards 2021: Best LGBTQ Indie Game, sponsored by Xbox.

LGBTQ indie games are the backbone of queer gaming, but unfortunately it rarely gets the praise and viewership it deserves. In most Award Shows, it’s amazing for an indie to even be nominated. So we strived to not only include indies as an official category where indie developers and games can shine, but in our Game of the Year category too!

Check out the games that we’ll be seeing during the Gayming Awards 2021, and what fans and judges alike had to say about them!

A Summer's End

A Summer’s End

“It’s a very nuanced, historically accurate visual novel / game which follows the relationship between two women in Hong Kong in the 1980s. Having grown up in Hong Kong, I really appreciated how the cultural aspects were not ignored, but rather thoughtfully incorporated into the storyline. It was evidently well researched and successfully captured the authenticity of Hong Kong culture during the 80s. Not only did it represent and tactfully explore the often-overlooked experiences of LGBTQ+ people of colour, it also handled the parent-child storyline really well. I think a lot of East Asian LGBTQ+ women would be able to identify with and relate to conflicts that arose throughout the story. It was balanced between optimism and realism. The soundtrack, character design, and artwork all complemented each other perfectly, to create an extremely unique game that flowed.”

“The game feels like a nostalgic love letter to LGBTQ identity. Set in 1980s Hong Kong, the story is portrayed with authentic details, while two female protagonists Sam and Michelle represent true images of what it was like to be a homosexual at that time. It also conveys a hopeful message to the LGBTQ community who are struggling with self-acceptance. Along with mesmerizing vaporwave aesthetics and heartwarming plot, it is the best LGBTQ indie game I’ve played in 2020.”

“It’s the first time that I’ve felt so represented in a video game and it blew me away. The story focuses on the romance between 2 women while addressing issues of Asian society and its expectations. The art and music are fantastic as well; clearly inspired well from the retro 80s Hong Kong. It also contains an important message about modern day Hong Kong’s struggles near the end of the game. In all, it’s a short but beautiful game.”


Ace in Space

“Ace in Space is an asexual dating sim in a sci-fi setting. It features a non-binary and asexual main character. There is also an option to opt-out of romance for a more aromantic route. It certainly is different than most dating sims, but it is a much-needed breath of fresh air for asexual folks.”


Errant Kingdom

“Errant Kingdom is a beautiful game thoughtfully made by an LGBTQ+ team. Everything from the romances to player pronouns is inclusive and considered, and the game itself is simply wonderful. The dialogue is fun, the romances are passionate and well-plotted, the artwork is gorgeous, and the music is beautifully atmospheric. The team does a fundraiser every June for the Trevor Project, and their care is present in everything they do, from the game itself to their social media. I can think of no one more deserving than the team at Lunaris.”

“Though there are many LGBT+ visual novels, few have such diversity and representation in their casts. Additionally the options for the player to choose their pronouns between Male, Female, and Nonbinary gives an option for many people who, until recently, have not been able to see themselves in games. The inclusion of polyamorous routes without a “love triangle” is refreshing and encouraging and there are also options for romantic routes with no sexual content for asexual players as well. Lunaris is doing an amazing job ensuring that everyone that plays feels included, and can accurately represent themselves and live their fantasy within the game’s scope.”

“The writing, art, and overall feel of the game is superb. Honestly it was one of the best things to look forward to in 2020 with every new chapter. The devs working on it all have a brilliant work ethic and really care about their fans and telling a good story that’s both heartfelt and inclusive. I recommend this game to all my friends and anyone looking for something new to play that will leave you wanting more.”


if found switch

If Found

“If Found… is a game about going home, coming out and erasing everything. Numerous footnotes throughout the game explaining the specific locations, language, slang and terminology surrounding the characters and events sets the tone for a game that is making a real effort authenticity. The LGBT+ characters introduced are naturally fit for the game’s focus on a young adult’s poignant search for acceptance amidst family conflicts.”

“If Found is the most authentic representation of trans issues that I’ve ever seen. It touched me, a cis woman, deeply and further proves that no matter who you are, this story from DREAMFEEL is powerful, meaningful and offers a new precedent for what we should expect for the future of LGBT communities in gaming.”


ikenfell

Ikenfell

“Ikenfell is the complete package. It has charming and expressive pixel art, an engaging story about moving past trauma and loss (and also about finding your missing sister at a magic school), one of the better VG soundtracks in recent memory, and an engaging mix of gameplay features which are at once challenging yet accommodating (especially given what I consider some industry-best features to change difficulty, with content warnings, and to eliminate flashing lights). Ikenfell also features a wide range of LGBTQ characters of different races and genders (including two who use they and ze pronouns). For these characters, coming to terms with the way they relate to others and identify themselves is both central to the game’s overall narrative and complements the other themes and meanings of the piece.”

“It features a full cast of queer characters–and not just side characters, either. Pretty much every named or main character is queer, either shown through their relationship, personality, pronouns, or self-identification. They used several sensitivity readers of color on staff during the development, and that really showed throughout the game. It made the world and characters feel so natural and like themselves–they acted more like the queer people in my life and less like a sort of googled “eh this is what the gays say right?” style of writing. That authenticity made for a much better experience in an already engaging, story and character driven game.”

“Ikenfell by far has had the best-feeling representation I’ve ever experienced. The characters are just queer and it’s no big deal for once! It honestly feels so so nice when a good chunk of representation in this medium being queer is often the focus of a character, the story, or a side-story, but in Ikenfell, you just have a bunch of queer characters, having an amazing and fun story in this magical world. It may not tell an extraordinairy story about queerness, but it sets a standard that hopefully one day many many games can follow. Queer characters just being part of a story, and there’s no why or how, or what about it.”


Murder by Numbers

“Murder by Numbers is the result of a small team, which included gay, bi, and trans people, who were given the freedom to create the game that they wanted to make. We strove to make an inclusive, upbeat game that tackled real social issues while also being dumb and fun. With no publisher breathing down our necks, we took the opportunity to include LGBTQ characters – opportunities that had been blocked by publishers in the past – and tell the story we wanted to. We wanted to portray femme gay men, drag queens, and bio queens and do so in a way that both embraced honest stereotypes but also showed that each was more than that – each was a real person. The game has been hugely popular with the LGBT demographic – more than we could have dreamed – and that’s why we think it deserves to be shortlisted for the indie award.”


Supporters

The Gayming Awards are proudly supported by… 

Jagex – Publisher of RuneScape and the Home of Living Games

Creative Assembly –  a craft-led studio with over 33 years’ experience

Sold Out Games – a world-leading video game publisher with 15 years of experience

Ukie – the UK’s games and interactive entertainment industry trade body

Out Making Games – the UK games industry’s LGBTQ representation group

Games London – the agency promoting London as a hub of games making

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