The Rainbow Arcade


When was the last time you played a video game with an LGBTQ+ character? They seem few and far between. However, as early as the 1980s, video game developers have written LGBTQ+ characters into the narrative of their games. The Rainbow Arcade, an upcoming exhibition highlighting the history of LGBT representation in gaming, will offer research and even playable games about or relating to LGBTQ video game characters. The Rainbow Arcade is a collaboration with the Schulwes Museum and Dr. Adrianne Shaw. Shaw created the LGBT Video Game Archive, an online collection of all the LGBT game content and resources that will be available at the exhibit. Temple University and ReFig (a project that promotes diversity in the gaming industry) provided grants that, in part, made the exhibit possible.

Shaw describes the collection of research as, “A work in progress and a labor of love” on the website for the LGBTQ Video Game Archive. Shaw believes that the collection is ready to display its research for the world to see:

In sum, our goal is to offer a record of how characters are explicitly coded, what creators have said about these characters, as well as how fans have interpreted these characters. We have included games and characters than [sic] have been read queerly as well as games where players have created modifications to the original game to create LGBTQ content. We also include homophobic and transphobic content, as well as other forms of ambient LGBTQ representation.

The exhibit, “Rainbow Arcade: A Queer History of Video Games 1985-2018” will be at the Schwules Museum in Berlin, Germany from December 13, 2018 to May 13, 2019. The Rainbow Arcade  hopes to create a fully researched and curated resource for people to learn about the full scope of LGBT representation in gaming. They also encourage people to send in their own findings of queer characters to expand their resources. To find out more information about the Rainbow Arcade, visit the LGBTQ Video Game Archive at

Kristopher McKeever