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This new LGBTQ adventure game will let you solve crime on the ’80s London gay scene

A Kickstarter for 'London 1986' hopes to bring a unique new gaming concept to the masses.

By Will Stroude

In partnership with London 1986.

Video games have evolved from a niche past-time to a huge industry with mainstream appeal. Despite this, independent games are still being created by individuals and small studios, to fill gaps in this burgeoning market.

London 1986 is one of these games, with the focus solely on the LGBTQ community during a turbulent and problematic time in their history – the 1980s.

The game follows DI Doug Henning as he investigates a series of crimes across the capital, trying to solve them using only his wits and the limited resources available at the time.

He’s met with suspicion from a community that has been victimised by the police (as was the norm in the 80s), and ridicule from fellow officers who don’t initially see the value of investigating crimes against a marginalised group of ‘undesirables’.

The game combines photographic backdrops with hand-drawn artwork to represent the characters involved, which are based on real-life actors, singers, drag artistes and regular members of the LGBTQ community and allies.

The lead detective has been cast as Ellis Tustin, an actor and comedian, and also an avid gamer.

The cast also includes some LGBTQ royalty: David Ames (BBC’s Holby City), Charlie Hides (RuPaul’s Drag Race), Mary Mac (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie) and Harry Clayton-Wright (LGBT performance artist – Deep Clean by David Wilson).

Their characters will be joining members from across the community of Lesbians, Gay and Transgender voices, all telling their story within the game.

Originally conceived over two years ago by the lead designer Gareth Conroy-Edwards, it took a national lockdown and global pandemic to join forces with the creative team behind the game.

Artwork has been created by Daisy Bennett, a talented artist whose work has featured in tourism guides and magazines, and who is also a longtime friend of Gareth’s and staunch ally.

A full original soundtrack, including a haunting ballad (echoing both the crimes in the game, and the AIDS crisis at the time) and 80s-inspired dance number, has been crafted by Greg Reid, whose work comprises of compositions for theatre shows and pantomimes, and has also provided music for numerous Drag queens, including Mary Mac, Myra Dubois and Jimmy Lavender.

Historic and iconic LGBTQ landmarks will also be featured in the game, from the Royal Vauxhall Tavern to Hampstead Heath, all recreated with photographs, artwork and digital wizardry.

Due to the constraints of the COVID-19 lockdown, performers are not being paid and workers have been furloughed. As a result, the project is being crowdfunded to ensure that the core team can continue to develop the game, and if the crowdfunding target is exceeded then the additional cast will also be compensated for their time and effort.

The game will be available on PC, Mac and mobile platforms initially, with a launch to games consoles depending on the games success and market interest.

The larger the number of platforms it is available on, the wider the potential target audience and the more chance it has of reaching members of the LGBTQ community that may be affected by the story that we’re trying to tell.

At a time when a number of countries still don’t have equal rights for their LGBT+ citizens, and hate crimes against members of the community (particularly its transgender members) are alarmingly high, a video game that casts a light on that community, and how far we have come, may just shine a light on how far we have yet to go.

Support the London 1986 Kickstarter campaign here.