Disclaimer: Modding games can be risky, even when you know what you're doing (and I don't so don't ask me) and I doubt it's covered by your warranty either.
Video game romances have come a long way from the first days of Mario and Peach. Some games have romances that are important to character development and plot, while others have romances that just side quest stuff and, within this, queer representation has grown as well. We have same-sex relationships, gay and trans characters that aren't just there as background decoration, a filler for a diversity quotient, or an object of ridicule. There's still a long way to go though and, as far as I'm concerned, there's never enough queer representation. There never will be until it becomes the norm in every piece of media and not just decoration or filler or ‘the gay best friend’ trope.
Video game mods have come a long way too, and there are plenty to chose from and entire websites dedicated to them. Some games have mods for cheating, some games have mods to improve graphics.
And some games have mods to change the sexuality of romanceable characters.
This makes me very happy. As a bisexual genderfluid person, as a gamer, and as a geek.
As a fanfic writer, I tend to mess around with the sexuality of everyone in whatever fandom I'm currently obsessed with (for the record, it's currently Dragon Age) so this is really what I want from my video games in the first place: the ability to romance anyone I want as any character I want.
So here are a just few games and a few mods that let me do that, mess around with the sexuality of romanceable non-playable characters (NPCs), and give us the representation that we want.
Jade Empire is a Bioware role-playing game (RPG) originally released in 1995 and set in a fictional world based on China. It already has same-sex romance options available, as do many of the games on this list, but one of the romanceable characters—Dawn Star—is straight and only interested in a male player. This is moddable, but it's not easy. In fact, from some reading it seems like modding this game is hard in general. It's been awhile since I've played Jade Empire, but maybe it's time to dust off my copy...or invest in the special edition. The gay romance scene is actually censored but there's a mod to fix that too, if you fancy it.
Mass Effect—another Bioware franchise with complex relationships and great stories—gave us same-gender romances from the start which gave almost everything we wanted. Almost. In fact it did actually give us a little more in the third installment by making Kaiden a romance option for a male Sheppard, which was pretty cool and felt like a nice development for a relationship given their friendship from the first game. There are mods though that opens up same-sex romances in both the first and second installment—though it's more about removing the gender flags (the ability to tell what gender the character is) for Sheppard than actually modifying the game itself.
Image is a screen shot from this video.
- How To Same Gender Romace at Mods Reloaded
- Activating Gay Romance in Mass Effect One on Bioware Social
- How to romance same gender crew members NOT intended by Electronic Arts/BioWare At FOG
Fire Emblem Awakening
Fire Emblem games have been around for a while (the first installment was released in 1990) and are tactical Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs). Awakening is the thirteenth in the series, released on the Nintendo 3DS. Same-sex relationships are already possible—with everyone I think. But same-sex marriages aren't, and neither is the ability to have children as a same-sex couple. Which is a pretty important part of the game. There is a mod that gives your character the ability to marry a same-sex partner.
Image from mod page.
Another Bioware game, and my favourite series, Dragon Age is chock-full of same-sex romances. In fact everyone in the sequel was bi, pan, or player-sexual (where the character is attracted to the player regardless of gender but there are no references or history of them being straight or queer anywhere else in the game). But in the end, I romanced Anders by accident, Merrill once, and Isabela four times (all as women). In Origins, Alastair and Morrigan were both hetreosexual choices only, but there are mods for them both. For the third game, there are plenty mods for Cassandra and Cullen—every other romanceable character is either gay, bi, or pan already.
(Image is a screen-shot from this video)
- Free Love at Nexus Mods
- Bi Cassandra Mod at Nexus Mods
- Bi Cullen Mod at Nexus Mods (warning - page also feature straight Sera mod which might make you uncomfortable).
Same-sex marriage is already possible in Skyrim and has been since the game came out. Great, right? Yeah, shame the NPCs are so boring. Skyrim romances aren't up to much—all you have to do it wear the right Amulet and have a short conversation with the person you want to marry and they agree—but that's okay; there's mods for that too and mods for the mods! Interesting NPCs add a little extra life to the game, and there is another mod that makes them all romanceable and marriageable regardless of player gender.
(Image from this video)
We’ve come a long way, yes, and it’s very satisfying to see the game developers putting queer and trans characters in their games, but look at how much more queer you can add!