Growing up being gay and into video games is an interesting sort of purgatory. While there were certainly many other interests I could’ve taken up that would’ve been far less accepting of my sexual orientation, gaming as a form of creative expression lacked any of the gay characters—let alone role models—that seemed to be present in literature, film, music and television. So of course, one must improvise. And thus, I have ended up with this strange bastardisation of my own intention: a definitive list of Soulcalibur characters who are most definitely gay, each assigned to the Grindr tribe which they best exemplify.

Now, I’ve never used Grindr as such, but from a stint working at a gay bar—and I use the term working loosely, as I mostly just scowled and refused to serve people drinks—I learnt a fair bit about the (in)famous dating-hookup app. One unique aspect of Grindr is the ability to put yourself into a “tribe” which gives guys an idea of who you are while showing you guys of the same tribe/s. Kind of one-dimensional and definitely more than a little bit based in stereotypes, but hey, we’re not here to criticise an app, we’re here to objectify and categorise fictional males! Yeah!

I chose the Soul series because, as with most fighters, it’s absolutely rife with homoeroticism. It’s essentially a bunch of shirtless or tightly clothed dudes fighting over a big sword. Just think about that one for a moment. Yeah, so it’s basically every gay club night ever. Hell, even some of the girls’ costumes are so over-the-top that they look downright draggish - sorry Ivy. But I digress; on to the list:

Clean-cut: Raphael

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Alright, let’s ease into this. For those of you not familiar with the gay dating scene, I’ll start you off with a tame one. Cast out by his family, and exiled from his home town by a lynch-mob (as so many young gay men are), Raphael has managed to not let stress affect him and still looks like an Abercrombie and Fitch model. Though that could possibly be all the virgins’ blood. He’s charming, wears nice, well-fitting (see above) clothes and he’s probably fairly intelligent and normal - whatever that means. Bonus points for being a loving adoptive father. What a catch!

Icebreaker: “Hey, what’s up?”

Date spot: Starbucks.

Bear: Rock

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Nothing says “bear”, quite like being outrageously huge and covered in body hair, except maybe being outrageously huge and covered in the pelt of a literal bear. Despite his scary outward appearance, Rock is actually a huge softy, showing limitless affection for his adoptive son Bangoo. His husky voice and the fact that he wields a ridiculously large mace both belie his true cuddliness. Rock is really just a giant beanie baby for you to enjoy well into adulthood, the only real difference being that this one could probably crush your entire ribcage with nothing but his enormous hands.

Icebreaker: (suggestive growling)

Date spot: Camping out under the stars.

Daddy: Cervantes

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Cervantes is Fantastic Mr. Silver Fox. Not only a daddy in Grindr terms, but a literal daddy in Soulcalibur, his daughter Ivy (presumably) still coming to terms with his newfound sexuality. Loves his beard, his boots, but still plays up his flamboyant side by dressing up as a pirate. Handsome, but also a little bit terrifying, Cervantes has had a lifetime—well, more than, he is immortal after all—of plundering the seven seas that’ll be sure to keep you in designer sneakers for a long time yet, or at least until he finds someone younger and more attractive than you are.

Icebreaker: “Can I buy you a drink, or an investment property?”

Date spot: His very own private ship.

Leather: Voldo

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Hello boys! With Vercci gone, Voldo’s looking for a new master. Kinks and turn ons include: leather, spikes, fishnets, bondage, ungodly acts of contortion, fur, asphyxiation, and sadomasochism. What he lacks in vision or the ability to speak in anything other than terrifying groans, he makes up for with his impressive flexibility, and his flair for creative costume design. Out of any character in any fighting game, Voldo surely has the greatest and most varied collection of mildly dangerous looking codpieces. Perhaps if you go on a date with him he’ll share them with you?

Icebreaker: (hisses aggressively)

Date spot: Anywhere you want, master.

Jock: Algol

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Algol is a real jock. He likes to show off his body, which he knows is good, because he can alter his own bloody height and weight at will. Totally into himself, but perhaps rightfully so having been hailed by Hideo Yoshie as “the strongest character ever in [the] Soulcalibur series.” Usually can be found discussing his “rig” or unsolicitedly showing off his thighs. The hyper-masculinity, while fine for a date, will most definitely become tedious in anything long term. Two hours is fine but constantly hearing from your man about “bulking for Coachella” is no way to spend the rest of your life.

Icebreaker: “Want to taste my protein? ;)”

Date spot: The locker room shower.

Discreet: Yoshimitsu I

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The secrecy of Yoshimitsu knows no bounds. From Soulcalibur II onwards literally nothing is known about Yoshimitsu except his gender and the weapon he uses. While his height and weight were available in the original Soulcalibur, not having access to these later can be seen as akin to removing these from his profile when he realised that any wrong move might out him to his family - well that is if they hadn’t all been slain by Oda Nobunaga. Wears masks to conceal his identity for some reason despite having a glaringly obvious prosthetic arm.

Icebreaker: “Your place?”

Date spot: Your place.

Twink: Patroklos

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Dear sweet Patroklos, with his blond tousled hair, smooth pale skin. At just 19, he’s a newcomer to this whole thing, and is basking in the lily-white glow of his own innocence. With no parents around to judge or question his decisions (vale Sophitia), he’s free to embrace his new lifestyle. In the gay world, twinks are kind of universally adored and hated at the same time: a guilty pleasure, kind of like watching Passions. But not Patroklos. No, Patroklos is an arrogant little shit. Whatever you do, don’t date him till he’s fixed his attitude and grown some body hair.

Icebreaker: “I’m a virgo!”

Date spot: The mall.

For updates, occasionally funny banter, and speculation about the sexuality of characters from popular video games follow Cal on Twitter.