Caper in the Castro, the first known LGBTQ video game, available again after 28 years Adventure categoryBlog categoryMacintosh category

Caper in the Castro, a Macintosh HyperCard game from 1989, was the first known LGBTQ-themed video game. As the author CM Ralph explained in an interview from 2014, the game follows “a lesbian detective investigating the disappearance of a [drag queen] in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco.” It pays tribute to the San Francisco LGBTQ community while also going for jokes like a villain named Dullagan Straightman.

The game was released as charityware: in exchange for the game, Ralph asked that you donate to an AIDS charity.

You can read more about Caper in the Castro at the LGBTQ Video Game Archive, which includes extensive coverage of the game, discussion with Ralph, and a copy of an article about the game from The Washington Blade from 1989.

Until just a few days ago, this game was thought to be lost. However, thanks to the Museum of Play, digital games curator Andrew Borman, Adrianne Shaw, CM Ralph, and the Internet Archive, a copy of Caper in the Castro has been recovered and is now available to play for free in your browser. In fact, it’s embedded in this post!

LGBTQ games and players have always existed. Caper in the Castro is an important piece of that history, “a labor of love for the Gay and Lesbian Community,” now freely accessible for everyone. (Also telling about gaming culture is Murder on Main Street, a straightwashed version of the game to be sold to a broader audience.)

Huge thanks to everyone involved in recovering this game!


  • Cillian

    Just found your blog through Tumblr. Great reads!

  • P-Tux7

    Great game! I didn’t get very far into it judging by some YouTube videos but this game is laugh-out-loud funny. Because all the puzzles are information-based instead of inventory-based, this means that even if you die or you blunder so badly that the game ends itself for you, you haven’t really lost all that much progress – so it makes those occasions a hoot! I can definitely see why this game had mainstream appeal even if you strip the LGBT themes from it – it’s honestly great and quite inspiring to see that the first LGBT computer game has more creative merit to it than just “being the first”.

    As the LGBTQ Video Game Archive interview reports, it turns out that the damsel in distress, though still being referred to by the game with female pronouns, is a drag queen. The author only reported that it was a transgender woman in interviews before the game had been found due to working off of their fuzzy memories and not being able to access the game to double-check, and this description of the game circulated around before it was actually found – and still somewhat today, as this article shows. The author specifically requested to the LGBTQVGA to point that out in the interview to correct the record. Could you please correct this information in your article as well?

  • Phil Salvador

    Thank you for the correction!

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