We’ve come a long way in recognizing and amplifying LGBTQ+ voices over the last decade, especially in video games. And not just with protagonists; there are some fantastic deuteragonists, supporting NPCs, and companions that also stand out as memorable trailblazers in the space. However oftentimes, it’s easy to forget that sexual orientation may not fit firmly in one direction. Often it isn’t even confined to a binary understanding of gender.
Since the late 90s, September 23rd has been recognized globally as Bisexual Pride Day or, more commonly, Bi Visibility Day. Despite the term “bi” in the name, which stems from the Greek word for “two,” bisexuality has historically been defined as the attraction to multiple genders, not necessarily just two. The term pansexual is often viewed as a branch within bisexual orientation, though it is most often viewed as personal to the person who chooses to identify in that manner.
For this list, I’ve opted to spotlight video game characters ranging from protagonists, to NPCs, to companions who identify under the wider umbrella of bisexuality, whether in game or by the developer or actor. This is certainly not a comprehensive list and does not in any way aim to define who, or what, is the embodiment of bisexuality, but the hope is that by providing a spotlight on these characters, we can create more conversation around bisexuality and amplify these voices as part of the wider effort to bring inclusivity into gaming.
Liara T’Soni (Mass Effect 1-3)
Liara is one of the earliest examples of a canonically depicted pansexual video game character, and despite a lot of justified qualms about the depiction of the Asari as a whole, Liara stands out for her loyalty, compassion, and genuine nature.
In the world of Mass Effect, the Asari are a mono-gendered alien race that take on distinctly feminine traits, though Liara herself states that the terms “male and female have no real meaning for us.” Regardless, due to the perceived feminine appearances of the Asari by other races, they have taken on female pronouns and titles, presumably to maintain continuity and avoid confusion. Regardless, Liara herself identifies as “not precisely a woman,” and can be romanced by Shepard whether played as male or female.
Asari relationships are not purely sexual and therefore they do not become “attracted” to others based on their gendered expression. Attraction comes from the desire to “unite” under one nervous system, to essentially become, for a short time, one person during the union. Talking to Liara throughout the games provides ample context and lore surrounding Asari history and traditions, and she serves as an ambassador for bisexual and pansexual identities in the sci-fi world.
Being a Greek God ain’t easy. Being a Greek God who also happens to be the son of Hades, Lord of the Underworld, is probably even less easy.
When Supergiant Games launched Hades at the tail end of 2020, players got to step into the royal boots of Prince Zagreus as he tried to escape the Underworld and discover his true identity that had been hidden from him all his life. Along the way, you’ll fight a series of foes both familiar and unexpected, and the story doesn’t come without its fair share of complicated relationships.
As Zagreus, you have the option to romance your ex Megaera (though the full scope of the relationship is never explicitly stated), or your childhood best friend and companion Thanatos. Whichever direction you choose leads to a really lovely story conclusion, but the key point to highlight is that the romance options are bound by the narrative; Zagreus’ affections are rooted in the history he shares with these characters, and consequently, this informs his bisexual orientation in the game.
Namely, that it’s not for dramatic effect; these are real people to him that he has formed attractions to. The developers themselves also confirmed Zagreus’ bisexuality was designed in this way from the very beginning, and that’s pretty awesome.
Mae Borowski (Night in the Woods)
Released in 2017 by Infinite Fall, Night in the Woods tells the story of Mae, a humanoid cat who has recently returned home following her withdrawal from college during her second year. The reasons for her dropping out are gradually revealed over the course of the game, but always spoken of in vague terms. Mae suffers from a series of mental health issues including a dissociative disorder, which is strongly implied to have contributed to not only why she dropped out of college, but other events that cause her to have some negative relationships with the residents of Possum Springs.
Mae has a dry and sardonic sense of humor, and throughout the course of the game you can choose to spend time with her best friend Gregg, a hyperactive fox, or Bea, a dark humored crocodile who was best friends with Mae as children. Who you choose to spend the most time with leads to different revelations about both Mae and the companion in question. Ultimately it is through these interactions that it is revealed that Mae has an ex-boyfriend who she is not on the best terms with, but overall states that she is “not picky” when asked about her sexual attractions. She will also make passing remarks about characters she’s interested in regardless of their gender.
There’s a lot to unpack with Night in the Woods as it reveals one story on the surface and another beneath. Mae is a complicated character with intense feelings, and a relatable struggle with her mental health. Her approach and philosophy with her sexuality is a breath of fresh air despite her obstacles, which makes Mae a really well rounded character.
Sam Coe (Starfield)
Everyone’s favorite new space cowboy! Sam is one of the more memorable characters of Bethesda’s new massive RPG Starfield, and for plenty of good reasons. As a member of Constellation, an organization with the mission of exploring the farthest reaches of space for the pursuit of knowledge and betterment of mankind, Sam is committed to the cause and his enthusiasm is pretty infectious. And of course, he has a voice like velvet that could tuck you in at night and lull you into a wistful sleep.
You meet Sam relatively early in the story, along with his daughter Cora, with whom he is inseparable. From there, you can take Sam along as your companion as you explore worlds and settlements, or traverse into space pirate lairs, or take down massive carnivorous aliens. Over time, you can get to know Sam, his history as the descendant of a famed space explorer, and the burden he carries to try and undo the cycle of generational trauma that haunts his family. There is a lot to Sam, and he’s a great character to keep with you.
As with most Bethesda titles, the player character can essentially romance any character they want, provided they complete their various loyalty quests or engage in behaviors/activities that the character approves of. Character sexuality is not often made a component of the canon. However, Elias Toufexis, who voiced Sam in the game, recently confirmed that Sam is in fact bisexual, following some online criticism of the character. As a voice director himself, he confirmed that “we all had conversations about each character’s wants, needs and, yes, even their sexuality. I played Sam based on those discussions.”
It’s refreshing to see this confirmed as canon in a Bethesda title, as opposed to the generic “you can romance whoever you want” without giving voice to those characters or their identities. And of course, it’s cool to check off “space cowboy” next to “awesome bisexual characters” on the list.
Dina (The Last of Us: Part 2)
Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us: Part 2 is not without its share of controversy or vocal opponents. It is a remarkable game and a stunning achievement in storytelling, and much of that is because of the narrative direction the story takes, with blood and guts and fire and brimstone all along the way.
One of the bright spots in the narrative is the introduction of Dina, resident of the peaceful town of Jackson and eventually protagonist Ellie’s girlfriend and partner. At the start of the game, Dina has recently broken up with longtime boyfriend Jesse, though the two appear to have split on amicable terms. Following the breakup, Ellie and Dina begin dating, and Dina remains steadfastly by Ellie’s side through the major story arcs in the game, to its ultimate, tragic conclusion.
Though Dina never explicitly discusses her sexuality in the game, it is heavily implied through the narrative, based on her previous relationship with Jesse and ultimately that they end up having a child together (though Jesse is killed before he ever discovers that Dina was pregnant). Dina is confident, forthcoming in what she wants and expects in a partnership, and refuses to compromise her own ideals or happiness for violence or revenge.
As Ellie’s first seemingly stable and loving relationship, Dina provides direction for Ellie, and hope that there is a future beyond her quest for revenge. Their relationship plays out in a beautifully realistic and tragic way, and Dina’s confidence and assuredness in her identity no doubt plays a part in her ability to rise above the circumstances that the pair find themselves in throughout the game.