While the queer community as a whole has its issues with representation, various identities within the community, like gay men and lesbians, are notably more visible. Amongst the least visible queer identities are the Asexuals and Aromantics.
Asexual people, or “Aces”, don’t experience sexual attraction, while Aromantic people, or “Aros”, don’t experience romantic attraction.
Conversely, people who do experience sexual attraction are referred to as “Allosexuals” and those who experience romantic attraction are referred to as “Alloromantic.”
As Allosexual and Alloromantic attraction amounts to what genders someone is attracted to, the concept of not being attracted to any genders is often not even considered.
Indeed, while Asexual and Aromantic people are represented in the extended LGBTQI+ acronym (LGBTQQIP2SA), many claim that their A stands for Ally instead. Even GLAAD, an LGBTQI+ organization, has needed to apologise for implying otherwise in the past. Asexuals and Aromantics are so underrepresented that allies, or supportive non-queer people, feel that they have more of a right to the queer community than they do.
This underrepresentation means that Aces and Aros who don’t know the name of their identity might feel “broken”, or otherwise pressured to seek therapy to become “normal.”
The Visual Novels, C14 Dating and Backstage Pass, are some of the few video games to include Asexuality positively, though Aromantic relationships are not addressed. This is due to the fact that both Visual Novels are of the romance kind, meaning the aim of the game is to romance a character.
Backstage Pass – Spoilers Ahead
In Backstage Pass, by Sakevisual, you play as Sian Goodin, a new college student and makeup artist. She has four main love interests, who are all male. Alongside the main routes, there are three bonus routes. These routes are considered bonus as they are not advertised, and there is no easy way to see how well you are progressing along their paths. One of these bonus routes is Alvin.
Admittedly, as a bonus route, Alvin’s route doesn’t have the same depth as the four main routes. However, when the game does address Alvin’s Asexuality, it is deeply touching.
At the very end of his route, Sian leans in for a kiss, only for Alvin to pull away from her. Sian asks him if she misread the signs. He denies this but runs away. When she catches up to him, he explains how he loves her but is unsure if it really is love if he isn’t feeling certain things people say he should be feeling.
This whole speech is very important, but it must be noted that the rest of his route does not really touch on his Asexuality. To add to this, Alvin’s route is primarily advertised and seen as a Friendship route, even if it is still very much a romance. Alvin just doesn’t experience sexual attraction, and some signs of affection that an allosexual would feel.
Additionally, while Alvin is confirmed by the Devs to be Asexual, this is never explicitly stated in game. This means that those who identify with the same struggles mentioned by Alvin in his final speech might not know where to go from there in terms of figuring out their identity.
Backstage Pass’s Steam page can be found here.
C14 Dating – Spoilers Ahead
In Winter Wolves’ C14 Dating, you play as Melissa Flores, an anthropology student participating in an archaeological elective. She has five love interests, four male and one female. One of her male love interests is Hendrik Luikenhuis. Hendrik is a geologist and one of the main team working at the archaeological site.
A generally charming man with a love for rock related puns, C14 Dating does an excellent job of making Hendrik an endearing and charming character, making him much more three-dimensional than a token queer character. This is a deliberate design choices on the part of the writer, Kitty Star who is Asexual herself.
At the same time, C14 Dating foreshadows and incorporates his Asexuality through his route instead of making it one big reveal at the end of his route. For instance, Melissa realises that Hendrik is Asexual a week before Hendrik confesses it to her. It is notable that when she makes this realisation, she already knows what the term means.
This is a running theme throughout C14 Dating with queer characters being casually mentioned without further commentary. However, while this is a pleasant stance for a game to take, it assumes that its audience knows what Asexuality is. But C14 Dating nonetheless actually gives a name for the term.
C14 Dating’s Steam page can be found here.
Both of these Visual Novels approach Asexuality in varied ways, but both depictions are valuable in their own right. It is important for Backstage Pass to have Alvin explain his struggles with his sexuality versus what society tells him he should feel. It is important for C14 Dating to downright state that Hendrik is Asexual.
If you would like to learn more about Asexuality and Aromantic Attraction, Asexuality.org is a good place to look next.