The Seven Sages Of The Bamboo Groves: LGBTQIA RPG
The Seven Sages of the Bamboo Groves is an RPG with explicitly LGBT+ themes that has already been under development for the last 4 years. It is a game that bases its story and characters upon Chinese history, which the devs have clearly put a lot of work into researching and presenting in an accurate, respectful manner. The developers explain on their official website their fascination with the seven sages and the influence of the sages' beliefs on the game, saying:
"The Seven Sages were truly cool people. Many believed in their ideals of equality, peace and freedom in a time when violence was all around them. They spoke about the use of violence as a final resort, rather than a tool for domination."
They continue that two of the sages, Ruan Ji and Xi Kang, were known to be lovers, "a fact which has been minimized or ignored altogether." The game focuses on this relationship in an attempt to open up "a dialogue on issues such as identity politics, gender equality, sexism, racism, and cultural diversity." The developers hope that their game will demonstrate the demand for LGBT+ content and that this will then affect a wider shift within the industry, with bigger companies having "to change their tune."
The project is currently on Kickstarter asking for a conservative $50,000 in order to produce "a playable demo (proof-of-concept) for the first level of the game." At time of writing (we delayed posting so it wouldn't get lost in the Gamescom buzz ~Ed) they've raised just under $300 and have 24 days left of the campaign. Indeed, the developers' end goal is admirable and certainly one I myself can get behind as the representation of LGBT+ characters within games is an issue especially close to my heart. Were I not a broke graduate I would definitely back this project. It's extremely reassuring that the game has already been in the works for such a long period of time.
However, whilst there's already a great deal of text on the crowdfunding page detailing combat and dialogue mechanics, I would've appreciated seeing far more gameplay in the Kickstarter trailer. That said, the art assets we do see appear to have been created to a very high, polished standard. Furthermore, many of the features detailed on the Kickstarter page sound unique (mastering whistling as a skill in order to summon animals into battle? Hell yes!) or otherwise present familiar mechanics with a refreshing twist (keep an eye on your enlightenment/ignorance gauge, chaps). If the developers reach their goal, it could be a very important step for the representation of LGBT+ people within the medium and a high quality demo may draw the interest of a publisher and, therefore, mean a bigger budget for the full product later down the line. Fingers crossed, eh?"