Game Changer: Atari’s Pridefest Is First Mobile Game for LGBTQ Community


Atari Pridefest

The gaming world just got more game thanks to Atari’s launch of Pridefest, the first major mobile game for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community.

Pridefest is a social-sim game inspired by the LGBTQ community and is the first title from European mobile gamer Mad Marshmallow in partnership with Atari.

The game lets players create their own parades celebrating LGBTQ life. Each player takes on the role of new mayor of a city that has lost its fun and color overnight. Buildings along the parade route start turn from gray to colorful as the parade passes by.

Atari Pridefest

The mayor acts as the parade’s Grand Marshal as players restore neighborhood pride with custom avatars, shops, storefronts and floats—with more than 40 quests unlocking fresh content.

“Pride is only one small portion of the diverse LGBTQ culture and community, but it is one centered on freedom of expression, the pursuit of equality, and shared celebration,” said Fred Chesnais, CEO Atari, in Venture Beat. “Pridefest was designed to celebrate progress the LGBTQ community has made toward equality while working to emulate the spirited and celebratory atmosphere of today’s real-world parades. It was that spirited atmosphere that especially drew us to the idea of pride as an overarching theme and parades as the core gameplay mechanic.”

Pridefest has one-to-one chat functionality, options to visit and run Pride parades in far-off cities created by other Pridefest players as well as a “club” system for creating in-game groups. The app is available for Apple and Android devices. The game was previewed at the NYC Pride and Flame Conventions.

Andrea Ritsu, a lesbian trans woman gamer, criticized the game on Tumblr for for giving protestors too much power as they clog the parade routes with signs saying things like, “Do as we command” and “Shame.”

“There is no way to actually defeat these protesters, they will always damage you if they touch you,” writes Ritsu. “Yes, this is a game in which the city devoted to Pride Parades is still hurt if they interact with a protester, basically making the protesters stronger than the paraders.”

Mashable agrees. “If Pridefest wanted to delve deep into the iconography of that culture, it would make sense for Atari to do more than providing lip service to it during marketing,” notes the site. “But it could be a sign that your movement has hit mainstream awareness when a company builds a microtransaction free-to-play game upon a small piece of it.”

Chesnais responded to Mashable: “Since the beginning, we’ve known that the game’s subject matter and our approach will incite a broad spectrum of reactions—both positive and negative. We just hope those who wish to play the game will enjoy it and have fun, together.”