The PlayStation 5 launched with a slew of big-budget games from Demon’s Souls to Spider-Man: Miles Morales, but it also came with a little indie from the developer of Octodad: Dadliest Catch called Bugsnax. Creative director Kevin Zuhn told TheGamer all about what inspired this cute little food-themed title.
“When it comes to characters, I was heavily influenced by Adventure Time, Steven Universe, and Undertale. Their casual approach to depicting queer characters and themes is something I aspire to, as well as their blending of the mundane and ridiculous!”
Given that Adventure Time and Steven Universe are all about that child-like wonder with a blend of humor that makes it enjoyable for adults and kids alike, it makes sense that Bugsnax drew from them. Undertale especially, which on its pacifist run, effortlessly integrates LGBT characters, making it more the norm than a spectacle of stereotypes.
On the topic of representation, there’s a wealth of integrated characters in those IPs from Adventure Time’s Marceline the Vampire Queen and Princess Bubblegum’s lesbian relationship to Undertale’s Alphys who crushes on both King Asgore and Undyne. Then there’s Steven Universe which sported a gay wedding between Ruby and Sapphire on Cartoon Network of all places. They all served to integrate LGBT characters into the story seamlessly, normalizing it, which is something that Kevin Zuhn strived to do.
“I didn’t have any lofty ambitions [in giving players something to take away from Bugsnax], I just wanted to pass on the feeling that queer inclusion is completely normal in games and stories like this!” As for why this representation was so important, Kevin themselves is non-binary, and as they put it, “Surrounded by friends from across the queer spectrum.”
Bugsnax was a launch title that showcased the PS5’s new features, sure, but it was also an attempt to break down clichés and dangerous molds LGBT characters across the industry are regularly falling into, as to try and better representation. The inspirations it took seem to have helped that goal tremendously, and hopefully, it shines through in the studios future titles.
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James Troughton is a writer at TheGamer. He’s worked at the Nintendo-based site Switchaboo and newspaper TheCourierOnline and can be found on Twitter @JDTroughton.
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