In recent years the games industry has made some real strides when it comes to the representation of female characters, with the likes of Rise of the Tomb Raider, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and FIFA 16 all leading the charge this year. And while that’s important, for those who don’t identify with the gender binary (male or female) and fall somewhere else on the gender spectrum, there’s been a lot less progress.
Just a handful of games are championing gender expression with Rock Band 4 letting players dress their characters however they feel (thus ditching gendered clothing/traits in the process) and upcoming platformer Wildfire also features a non-gendered protagonist. Joining the small list of gender expressive games is Read Only Memories, which is set to bring classic adventuring and LGBTQ+ and non-binary characters to PS4 and PS Vita.
Read Only Memories Coming to PS4 and PS Vita
Developed by MidBoss (the LGBT-focused company that’s also behind the GaymerX conventions), Read Only Memories is set in Neo-San Francisco in 2064. In the game’s futuristic world, you play a journalist who has been left a ROM (a Relationship and Organizational Manager; an intelligent device that replaces current mobile tech) named Turing. Together with Turing, players will go through the point and click adventure world solving puzzles and investigating mysteries about ROMs and Neo-SF’s sci-fi setting.
While Read Only Memories has an old school feel and tons of player choices, its cast of diverse characters is obviously a huge draw too. Not only do many of the NPCs not identify as any particular gender (or on the gender binary), there are also some non-heterosexual characters (one detective you work with is your sister’s ex-girlfriend) and players also have the freedom to choose their pronouns as well.
On the PlayStation Blog, MidBoss’ Lead Artist/Director John James explains:
“We thought a lot about what could or should be seen as normal and everyday in the future world of 2064 and how we could bring people into that world. Players are allowed to select their name, pronouns, and even their diet! We didn’t even have anything planned for the diet part! It was still cool to have, though, so it stayed. Although the protagonist character clearly lives their own life in Neo-San Francisco, allowing for these little things lets players fine tune themselves and feel closer to the setting.”
This is massively encouraging and we look forward to seeing other developers follow suit with their player character options.
Read Only Memories will be released on PS4 and PS Vita in 2016. It is currently available on PC and Mac.