Gay dating sim Coming Out On Top begins it Steam Greenlight campaign. Developer Obscurasoft also weighs in on the state of LGBT representation in games and Steam’s approach to the censorship of explicit content.
Coming Out On Top Wants to Bring Gay Romance and Erotica to Steam
In Coming Out On Top, players are college senior Mark Matthews. About to come out of the closet and wanting to “make up for lost time,” Matthews can go through six “full long-form routes,” go on 10 dates and meet “18 hot guys” who are waiting for him to win them over.
In addition to “hours and hours” of story gameplay and “hundreds of unique choices,” Coming Out On Top is also known for its erotic content, which has been available in its uncensored glory through itch.io and the Obscurasoft website for some time. So, it may seem unusual that the developer is now trying to get the game on Steam, which has a notoriously difficult policy regarding games with erotic content.
Speaking to me in an email, Obscurasoft explains that “given that Steam is about to discontinue Greenlight, I thought we’d throw our hat in the ring before whatever comes next.” Though admittedly, while the developer is prepared to censor the game “by whatever rules” if it gets Greenlit, “we’re actually unclear as to what should be censored at the moment, since the policy seems to have evolved over time and different erotic games have been using different methods to manage their erotic content on Steam.”
One game which has successfully gotten over Steam’s hurdles is queer BDSM game Ladykiller in a Bind; with developer Christine Love previously telling Kotaku that a censored version of the game would be “inferior.” Obscurasoft says that this is a “valid point for sure” but says that Coming Out On Top can “still be quite fun to play without being overly explicit”
Moreover, given the “antipathy towards male nudity by the culture at large, I’m not sure if a gay game has much leeway without being censored.”
My frustration lies with the culture at large, which shuns the naked male form, especially in an erotic context. It’s a part of current culture we’re hoping to change. Censored or not, I feel it’s important more games featuring the male form are out there, otherwise you’ve got a whole swath of games mostly catering to only one group of people. We and others are trying to mix it up.
Discussing LGBTQ representation in games, Obscurasoft also recognises that Coming Out On Top isn’t the only game out there trying to ‘mix it up.’. Although it was “one of a handful of games that featured gay male relationships” when development began, since then, “the scene has completely exploded in recent years, both for visual novels and other types of indie games.”
“Many of the most backed and most supported visual novels on Kickstarter were gay-themed games,” says the developer (Coming Out On Top itself was successfully Kickstarted back in 2013). But of course not all of these have made it onto Steam yet, but hopefully Coming Out On Top will be part of the trend in that sense too.
Coming Out On Top is now seeking votes on Steam Greenlight. It is currently available on Windows PC, Mac and Linux.