ValiDate Characters

My Fat, Black, Queer Self Rarely Gets Shown in Media, but ‘ValiDate’ Has Got Me Covered

Struggling singles who actually look like me!

It’s been a good couple of weeks for gaming, with several presentations that prove that there aren’t enough hours in the day to play everything you want – especially when it comes to indie games. I’ve become more invested in the indie game scene because it tends the be the best place to find games that either capture the vibe I’m going for (ie: wholesome games) or have characters and themes that represent my experiences in a way that’s engaging and, frankly, a whole lot of fun.

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One big example of this was shown during the Future of Play with a game called ValiDate. Set to release on Steam and the Nintendo Switch this August, the game features, as the subtitle suggests, “struggling singles in your area.” When I got the press kit for this game and looked at the images I was stunned. Not only were there a LOT of Black and brown queer folks, but there were plus-size ones—SEVERAL of them. There’s actually body diversity in this, too??? Where has Jercy City BEEN all of my gaming life?!

What is ValiDate?

Anywhere can be the city of love if you’re willing to try hard enough, and some of these folks from Jercy City are desperate. ValiDate presents a smorgasbord of relationships to bear witness to — but the dating scene is difficult even when you aren’t marginalized in six different ways, so happiness continues to fly just out of reach for these unlucky lovers.

Features include:

– 13 playable characters with 30+ routes.

– The ability to choose horrible decisions and see the entertaining fallout.

– #OwnVoices narrative writing by an all people of color team.

– Original score by the Boy.

– A beautiful array of artists of color’s work to give each character their own individual feeling.

– Backgrounds taken from all around the world.

– Flawed characters undergoing narrative arcs handled with empathy and self-indulgence.

– Achievements for every single ending.

I’m gonna date a whole lot of folks in August

ValiDate
(Image: Veritable Joy Studios)

What immediately drew me to ValiDate is its cast of characters and the possibility of having a variety of diverse hookups. This game feels like something you play when you’re in the mood for a story with adult, queer characters who are trying to make sense of whatever this thing called life is. That kind of formula is one that isn’t new to queer media. The circle of disaster gays is a trope that’s been around when it comes to telling our stories.

That being said, I can’t really recall a time when most of the cast in that situation looked like me. I’m used to being the lone Black queer woman in a story, and that’s not including my desire for size inclusivity. Fat, Black women don’t get a whole lot of love in gaming, adding “queer” to that just makes it feel more impossible to see myself in media, especially if I want something that revolves around “dating” and being seen as desirable.

In ValiDate, there are multiple characters who are my skin color, my size, and my sexuality. There are scenes of them kissing and being intimate with each other. That’s not a common thing for women like me in ANY form of media, let alone queer media, but ValiDate is here giving me something I don’t have all too often – options. The fact that diversity, in this case, is a range of Black and brown characters, with different body types, backgrounds, and sexualities is amazing. It shows how diverse we are within our own space instead of having one lone Black or brown character be THE diversity of the game.

Also? The dialogue in ValiDate is hilarious. I lost it during the Nintendo Switch trailer when the dialogue simply said, “You will make this man’s life a living hell.” Knowing the way I play video games, I probably will. There are bad ending routes in this, apparently. Time to make some terrible life choices!

This is going to be a delightful queer mess to play through, with characters who look like me and a lot of my friends and family. I can’t describe how good it feels to see something so diverse and so ME being presented on a major gaming platform. That being said, I obviously will have to play this multiple times to hook up with as many people as I can … unless, of course, there can be more than one person in a relationship. There’s plenty of room on my Switch for everyone.

ValiDate will be released in August 2022. The demo is available now on Steam.

Inaya and Yolanda
(Image: Veritable Joy Studios)

(Featured image: Veritable Joy Studios)

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Author
Briana Lawrence
Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)