GayBlade (lost PC game; 1992)

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GayBlade cover.jpg

Manual cover

Status: Lost

GayBlade was a role-playing game released in 1992 on Windows and Mac. The game was notable for being one of the first centrally LGBT-themed video games to be released - in fact, at the time it was often marketed as the "first" LGBT game, however, this was not actually true, as the lesser-known Caper in the Castro had already been released three years prior. The plot revolves around a party of "Drag Queens, Queers, Lesbians, and others" venturing into a dungeon to rescue Empress Nelda from right-wingers, with enemies including "TV Preachers", "Homophobic Yuppies" and "Hell Crabs". Upon release, the game received significant coverage, and not just from the gay press - it was featured in more mainstream sources such as The Village Voice, USA Today and Der Spiegel[1]. According to the developer, Ryan Best, "my phone was ringing day and night with calls for interviews”. The game was even accused by the "Pro-Life Activist's Encyclopedia" of supporting the "homosexual agenda".[2] In spite of this initial spate of public interest, the game soon faded into obscurity, until it was rediscovered by Professor Adrienne Shaw, who had founded the LGBTQ Games Archive in 2015. Shaw interviewed Best in January 2018, who provided more background info on the development of the game, where he described it as a creative outlet for the homophobia that he had faced growing up in Illinois. He also explained that after having written in a mainstream game entitled Citadel of the Dead and not making any money from sales after signing a bad project, he decided to use coding from an unfinished project of his entitled DragonBlade to make a specifically queer-focused game.[3] Shaw's efforts in unearthing Caper in the Castro and GayBlade, alongside other documentation and archival work, received media recognition from VentureBeat and Kotaku in July 2018. [4][5]

Status

Although the game sold "thousands" of copies according to Best, the games' existence was only rediscovered thanks to a number of the aforementioned media articles, and the game itself remains missing. However, he was able to provide a copy of the game's manual along with a press kit to the LGBTQ Games Archive, which are available here and here respectively. A few other screenshots survive that were featured in articles about the game. Ironically, Caper in the Castro, despite being lesser known than GayBlade, survived in the form of the original diskettes of the game's creator and is now playable in an emulated form on the Internet Archive.

References