Lizard Hazard Games‘s Your Royal Gayness is a cheeky parody of fairy tales. You help Prince Amir manage his kingdom, avoid marriage, and seek the man of his dreams. It’s the Finnish indie studio’s debut, and after a successful Kickstarter campaign in early 2017, Your Royal Gayness is now out on PC.
Romance is one aspect of this indie, but much of Your Royal Gayness is about listening to citizens’ concerns and managing resources. In the audience phase, Amir fields requests and hears about problems that have sprouted up around the land. Then he must command his advisers on how he wants to solve these problems and decide on what laws he’d like to pass.
“We definitely took inspiration for the laws in the game from real world,” said Lizard Hazard CEO and lead developer Salli Loikkanen in an email to GamesBeat. “For example, in Finland homosexuality was a criminal offense until 1971; it was removed from the list of illnesses in 1981, and in 2017 gay marriage was legalized. The laws in Your Royal Gayness are inspired by that same progression. There are other things as well — for example, the player has the option to raise taxes, and if they do, the happiness of the people goes down. However, if the player sets social laws, it’ll cost money but the happiness gain is greater than the money lost.”
Loikkanen says she’s wanted to develop a game about fairy tales for a while. Most fairy tales are filled with traditional gender roles, which are ripe for parody. However, though Your Royal Gayness takes a humorous approach, the topics it addresses are serious. For instance, Amir can push to legalize gay marriage — something that’s meaningful to many people who may live in places where it still hasn’t been legalized. To make sure Lizard Hazard was balancing the parody aspects along with striking the right tone, it hired a sensitivity reader to make sure the jokes and stories were as inclusive as possible.
A potential pitfall is the women in Your Royal Gayness. Amir is constantly battling off suitors, women who are trying to marry him against his will and are essentially his “enemies.” Loikkanen says the team tried to avoid villainizing the women by trying to include diverse characters in the game.
“We stood up to the challenges by including lots of minor female characters — Amir’s mom, the Queen is calm, distinguished and intelligent, the High Priestess is confident and sassy, Olivia the noblewoman is very shy and delicate and Drakemaster Magda is a hardened warrior and a mother of two,” said Loikkanen. “We also gave the various princesses different body types, skin colours and outfits. Their appearances and personality traits are randomized, so the selection of possible princesses is pretty big.”
More games have popped up recently that address LGBTQIA issues or feature queer characters, such as Fullbright’s Gone Home, Game Grumps’s Dream Daddy, and Brianna Lei’s Butterfly Soup. Many of these titles tend to be heavily narrative-driven or visual novels, which Your Royal Gayness diverges from with its management simulation approach. Loikkanen says representation in games is important, particularly for folks who may not have local support.
“We don’t have a lot of games that explore those issues,” said Loikkanen. “I think the more stories we create with LGBT+ characters, the more normalized it becomes. And it should be normal to be gay. Personally, I live in a very accepting environment, but not every LGBT+ person is so lucky.”