For the 2019 Gay Western Jam on itch.io, prolific queer developer Robert Yang started developing his latest title, That Lonesome Valley, “to contemplate to contemplate the anniversary of influential gay cowboy film Brokeback Mountain (2005).” Three years later, the game is now finished and Yang has released it on his itch.io page. The game is a “a short retro-style gay romance game / visual novel about walking, sheepherding, and kissing,” where players guide the story of these two young men out on their own. Yang has noted that the game has pixel art depictions of nudity and gay sex, so player discretion is advised on that front.
That Lonesome Valley is about two young men named Jose and Bud who are alone together in the wilderness of Wyoming, herding sheep. The pair are tasked with taking care of their herd and gaining the trust of the sheep, but also have to navigate their relationship with each other along the way. This is where most of the gameplay comes in, as you have Jose and Bud hike to different areas with their charges and try to gather them. At night, Bud and Jose sit around their fire and talk, and sometimes more. They are also both actually aware of Brokeback Mountain as a film that exists and make references to it during the game.
Robert Yang is an icon in the LGBTQ+ gaming space (and was our Gayming Icon last year) because of his passion for creating authentically queer games that openly explore consenting sex between gay men. He has been described as “one of the most controversial game developers in the world,” for his work, which includes historical bathroom sex simulator The Tearoom and male shower simulator Rinse and Repeat. Yang was also previously an Assistant Arts Professor at the NYU Game Center.