Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst and Queer Coding

Despite coming out over fourteen years ago, Mirror’s Edge is still fondly remembered for both its amazing art direction and its superb gameplay.

While the concept of free running had been bubbling up under the surface of popular culture (highlighted in 2006’s Casino Royale, and reaching the gaming sphere in 2007 with Assassin’s Creed), no game had before (and in my opinion, since) made first-person free running a resounding success.

Fondness and fidelity kept it spinning in disc trays and hard drives, with lead character Faith Connors becoming instantly iconic and a memorable lead, despite the story being quite sparse.

Eight years after the original, a sequel/reboot, Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, was released. Keeping Faith and the “City of Glass”, it expanded upon the world and backstories of the characters, while maintaining focus on free running across the rooftops of a near-future city.

It’s one of these new characters I wanted to focus in on, one that got very little in terms of story and screen time, yet has left a lasting impression on me, all due to their interaction with Faith.

While never explicitly said in the games, many fans of the games have questioned Faith’s sexuality. Some claim she is gay, some say asexual, and others say she’s straight, all with their various evidence for their opinion.

While I could be swayed in any which way, there is this one character, one interaction of less than a minute and a half, that pushes me toward one direction. I like this scene, for all its coded phrases and hints, and that’s why I wanted to analyse it.

So, let me introduce you to Beatrix Bloch.

Exit Strategy – Faith, Beatrix Bloch, and Queer Coding

Players first knowledge of Beatrix Bloch is quite a sudden appearance.

Catalyst has various side missions for the players to complete, mostly given by characters Faith has already interacted with, like free running mentor Birdman or whiz-kid hacker Plastic. This is also how Beatrix Bloch enters the story, but not connected to any other character or mission; she calls out to Faith directly.

This is interesting for two reasons. First, Faith is quite a solitary character. She has rivalries and a few friends, but no one really close. Even Plastic, who Faith puts her…well, faith in several times during the game, they aren’t the best of friends.

Second, Faith is part of the underground resistance, whereas Beatrix is part of the hiCaste; the ruling elite of the city, putting these two characters at opposite ends of both the social and economical spectrum.

So for this woman to be able to call up Faith especially, and exposing herself to an illegal underground network and banishment from the elite, must be quite the character.

A striking presence…despite only being on screen for less than a minute. (Source: Youtube, ChriSEfron)

Upon reaching Beatrix’s apartment in the more affluent part of the city, a pop-up appears, giving players a little more backstory into Beatrix and Faith’s friendship. The transcript reads as follows;

“You met BEATRIX BLOCH briefly shortly before your capture two years ago and the two of you had a short, but honest conversations. She might be HICASTE, but there is something you can relate into in her. Now she needs your help with something, thought whatever a woman like her might need help with is beyond you.”

This prior meeting takes place in the associated comic book, where the two women met in a nightclub, and Beatrix told Faith how she was envious of the runners’ freedom, and wishing she didn’t have to follow the rules dictated by her caste, even who she wanted to marry. She even says she would trade places with Faith in an instant.

However, even though there is a lot to unpack there, I’m deciding to focus on the game, so we can discard the comic story from the discussion.

Even without the prior knowledge of the comic interaction, the missions briefing asks several questions.

How did these two characters, of completely different social standings, come together? What does Faith relate to in her, something that she sees reflected? How are they on first name terms after one meeting two years ago?

It speaks to something hidden; this is a society based around surveillance and security, yet these two made a connection that transcends that perceived threat, something that bonds them together on a more emotional level, something that Beatrix would risk to contact Faith, and Faith would risk capture to answer.

Beatrix Bloch as she appears in the prequel comic, Exordium. (Source: mirrorsedge.fandom.com)

The mission starts with Faith calling out to Beatrix. Beatrix is standing on her balcony, looking out over the city. It could be a peaceful moment, a place of tranquility, watching the hustle and bustle from on high.

Faith’s first comment; “I honestly never expected to see you again.”

It’s a small line and one that can be imbued with so much meaning. It’s to the point, no false niceties or societal “how-do-you-do’s”, but straight towards the sentimental quality we all have within us.

It’s something that only people with an intense connection could make, not something you say to someone you met for less than five minutes in a night club…not matter how honest the conversation was.

Faith’s delivery also has subtleties to give meaning. Throughout the rest of the game Faith speaks with a strong tone. Even in moments of great anger or sadness, she delivers she lines with stoicism and usually a commanding presence.

Here with Beatrix, Faith’s line delivery is notably softer, with even a slight quaver at the beginning of the sentence, as if daring herself to continue.

Beatrix’s responds with a reminder of when the two spoke last time, even asking what happened to Faith after their meeting (Faith went to prison for two years). Again, asking someone who you barely know about why they haven’t kept in contact is deeply personal and can be imbued with all sorts of meaning.

The “City of Glass”; a place where a board of directors control everything…even who you marry. (Source: YouTube, Foxy4)

After a few more pleasantries between the two, Faith asks what made Beatrix reach out to her.

Beatrix drops a big bombshell, she’s recently gotten married, although within the same sentence defines it as a “corporate union”. Faith asks if she had any say with the marriage, Beatrix dismisses it as a “board decision”.

Despite being an heiress to a major logistical firm, Beatrix is still having to be ‘sold off’ to a man, one who is in an even higher social circle than her. She is not allowed to strike out on her own, but instead reduced to a gilded cage.

And the ones making that decision; old-money elders who are in charge of the City of Glass, i.e. those who don’t want any change to the status quo, like say, someone have a non-normative (aka, non-heterosexual) relationship…

The idea of a corporate marriage does raise an interesting question; if it is known that these marriages are solely a business transaction, the modern-day equivalent to kingdoms marrying off their sons and daughters to make stronger alliances, then wouldn’t it be possible to also be marrying heirs into same-sex marriages?

However, bringing back the idea of the status quo of the City of Glass, it could be seen that heterosexual marriages are the only ones that are brought together for the hiCaste people.

Faith risks arrest to reach Beatrix and complete her mission. (Source: giga.de)

Faith is outraged at the notion of marriage solely as a corporate decision, but Beatrix seems resigned to the fact, saying it’s now her “reality” and that she is, “…OK with it, duty and all…”

The mention of “duty” is an interesting one, not something one who is her own heiress would say, reinforcing the fact that it is other forces that are bringing this marriage together.

But “duty” doesn’t correlate with societal demands, it recalls more familial pressure. I can almost picture the scene, of Beatrix’s family explaining that she needs to carry on the Bloch legacy.

While it’s not mentioned in the game, it can be inferred that women, like everything else in the City of Glass, are treated like property, and by the fact Beatrix and her husband are part of the hiCaste system, that only pure offspring between the two would be heirs to their respective empire.

So Beatrix resigns herself to be married to a man, one who has the exact same level of apathy toward the marriage as she, reduced to providing the next generation of hiCaste people.

As the conversation between Faith and Beatrix continues, Beatrix reveals her new husband is violent, liking to “…argue with his fists.” Faith offers to break his wrists. Beatrix says it’s tempting, a slight smile on her face, but declines.

Faith leads a lonely lifestyle with only a few genuine connections. Is Beatrix one of them? (Source: steam.com)

Beatrix cannot simply annul the marriage though, she needs something stronger to present the board of directors, and she thinks she has a lead.

Beatrix knows her husband is sleeping with another woman, and so needs recordings of the two secretly meeting. This is where Faith comes in.

Beatrix presents a few listening devices and Faith immediately pockets them, saying she’ll help Beatrix. Again, a single five minute conversation, between a runner and a hiCaste, and Faith is willing to jump in without any hesitation…

As a final note before Faith heads out, Beatrix lightly touches Faith’s arm while thanking her. Throughout the game Faith talks with several characters, and only a few does she let touch her.

She visibly steps back when she reunites with Runner leader Noah (the two later hug). Later when Noah dies, Faith doesn’t hold Noah’s corpse or be close to him, only touching his arm and chest to try and wake him up.

In other scenes, Faith only lightly taps Birdman on the shoulder when he gives her his first dash, and she completely blanks Icarus when he offers his hand later in the game.

So it means something when Faith allows someone to touch her, and means an extra note that it is soft, not a steady handshake of a corporate board member, or a shoulder bump of a runner, it’s more intimate than that.

Faith interacts with several characters in Catalyst, but none like Beatrix. (Source: wallpaperflare.com)

After Faith leaves the level proceeds, with Beatrix giving directions to the places for the listening devices and Plastic hijacking the call to inform Faith of the increased security presence. Once Faith has placed all the bugs she hopes Beatrix gets what she needs and Beatrix responds with thanks.

And that’s it. No final note in a later level, no other radio transmission letting us know whether Beatrix was successful, what she did after getting her divorce.


I find it both odd and amusing that this conversation and this character have stuck with me for so long.

I’ve been trying to understand why and I think it comes down to the light touch of it all. In the end, Faith (and Beatrix) don’t need to be identified as gay by the creators and it doesn’t really matter if they are. This entire dissection is purely speculation.

But in that speculation is a kernel of…something. LGBT characters and themes have reached wide prominence in the AAA sphere, and speculation of characters’ sexuality runs through nearly every genre, from Leon Kennedy in Resident Evil 4, to Rhys Strongfork in Borderlands 3, and Lara Croft in the most recent Tomb Raider reboot trilogy.

I feel Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst plays it delicately; it can be inferred and isn’t queer baiting with “almosts” and “what-ifs”, but if someone wanted to pick up on the threads, it can be seen.

In comparison to a character sexuality being directly stated in-game or other media (which has its place and I wholeheartedly support), here the light touch allows the right amount of colour and shade into Faith and Beatrix’s lives.

It makes space for other games to make off-hand comments about same-sex partners and coded references to non-heteronormative relationships (in itself a step towards normalisation) while not overshadowing the game or the mission with a heavy-handed “this character is gay” statement.

So while I can totally understand fans of Mirror’s Edge to go either way on this subject, I will hold up the coding and subtle references between Faith and Beatrix to be a strong standard for threading LGBT themes into characters and games and I would be interested in seeing more.

Banner Photo Source: wallpapercrafter.com

Assassin’s Creed, Jacob Frye, and Bisexuality in Games

I recently completed Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate and loved the entire experience. While I have enjoyed certain aspects of each Assassin’s Creed since the exquisite original, none of them have really captivated me as a whole.

While I enjoyed the majority of the predecessor, UnitySyndicate really felt like a step up. The setting of Victorian London was a great location, and the constant liberation missions through the boroughs were on the right side of grinding for me. But the major selling point that got me interested in the game were the dual playable characters, twins Jacob and Evie Frye.

I was excited at playing as Evie due to her being the first playable female Assassin in the main series and loved her no-nonsense attitude and bubbling chemistry with fellow Assassin Henry Green. I at first neglected Jacob for his more charming sister, but became intrigued at reading online that he was confirmed as bisexual. Jeffrey Yohalem, lead writer for the game, confirmed Jacob’s identity on The Assassin’s Den podcast, and the official Assassin’s Creed Tumblr posted,

“Jacob Frye is bisexual. This is canon. The end.”

AC as a series has always tried tackling serious topics in the games. Religion and hypocrisy managed to fuel four games, but the series has also turned an eye towards colonialism, slavery, and the idea of ends justifying the means.

Even Syndicate manages to debate imperialism, with Evie trying to convince Queen Victoria to retreat from India after the end credits. Syndicate also includes the series’ first openly trans character, so if the game wanted to focus on one of its leads sexuality, I was all for it.

Jacob’s sexuality is brought to the fore in Sequence 8, where a vaguely flirtatious relationship is developed with bad guy Maxwell Roth, culminating in Roth kissing Jacob as the former dies. It was a small moment, and Jacob’s reaction can be read in numerous ways.

Despite being an avid gamer, I can only name a few game characters that are bisexual. Compared to the gay and lesbian characters (both open and can be read as) that I could rattle off with ease, it was a struggle. So, in a bid to both better myself and hopefully learn something new, I decided to go for a look.

“Of course, people do go both ways– (Scarecrow, The Wizard of Oz) – Researching Bisexual Characters in Games

There is one place that bisexuality does come to the front in gaming spheres; role-playing games. The houses of Bethesda and Bioware have an amazing hold on one subsection of games because they cater to gamers who want to explore a different identity or play as someone similar to themselves.

As Keza McDonald says in the documentary How Video Games Changed the World,

“In Mass Effect your character is basically bisexual by default. You can flirt with whoever you want and pursue a relationship with whoever you want…” (1:02:26)

Games like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Elder Scrolls and Fallout start off players in the middle and then allow them to move in any direction they want.

While there are characters like Steve Cortez in Mass Effect that will only romance you if you are the same gender, most characters can be romanced by both genders. There was even some fan backlash when character Kaidan Alenko, who had been a heterosexual character, became a romantic possibility for a male main character in Mass Effect 3.

However, my issue with RPGs like the ones listed above stems from that openness to player choice. While Mass Effect has been thoroughly mocked for its “input-gifts-output-sex” approach to sex and sexuality, it is entirely player driven, and not part of the default character of Shepard.

Games that use the Marvel properties give a massive boost to LGBT representation. Characters like Mystique, Prodigy, Deadpool and Lightspeed are either bi or pan, and have appeared in everything from Ultimate Alliance to Lego Marvel, games catering to all ages and players. Yet these characters are from another medium, they aren’t solely bi/pan within their games. And that is even if the topic of their sexuality comes up during the experience.

In a similar vein, games of other properties have confirmed bisexual characters like Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and Korra in The Legend Of Korra. But again, does it count toward representation if their sexuality doesn’t come into the game? According to the LGBTQ Video Game Archive, the character of Asami from The Legend Of Korra (and girlfriend of the eponymous bisexual heroine) is omitted from the game, taking away a large amount of bi visibility from the franchise.

And what of people from history that would have identified as bi or pan? In AC: Unity, Marquis De Sade is one of main character Arno’s contacts, and embraces his relationships with both genders. While it is only really found in side-missions rather than the main game, it is nice that it is included.


Before doing some research into the topic, I could only name two other bisexual characters besides Jacob Frye. Those two were Juri Han from the Street Fighter series and Trevor Phillips from Grand Theft Auto V.

I like Juri, she’s a fun character and her crazy fighting style in Street Fighter IV drew me to her. All of her dialogue in the games points to her attraction to other characters or being sexually aggressive. When she squares off against Chun-Li in the latter’s Rival Fight, Juri ponders whether Chun-Li has “a schoolgirl crush” on her. However, none of Juri’s flirting is confirmed within game, so it could just be Juri’s way of mentally screwing with her opponents.

With Trevor, the game is explicitly up front about his sexual preferences, with his LifeInvader profile stating that, “any hole’s a goal”. When asked by his friend Franklin if he is gay, Trevor responds,

“No. Yeah. Whatever. Labels, bro…”

He seems indifferent to who his partners are, just going along for the ride and propositioning several members of the cast. That makes a debate on whether Trevor is bisexual or pansexual, but he can be easily identified as ‘not straight’.

With Jacob, it is more layered when it comes to his sexuality. I’ll link here to an excellent article on New Normative by Susana Valdes, which goes into more detail than I ever could. Valdes breaks down all the subtext and personality traits of Jacob, highlighting how his sexuality is foreshadowed throughout the game.


There is one genre that I have neglected to talk about in this post; dating sims. A notable one in recent years was Dream Daddy, a dating simulator game where all the characters that can be romanced are fathers, with the player character being gay or bi, cis or transgender.

And sure, dating sims are a great way to have that diversity, it is inherent to the product. But Jacob’s story is one that I wish we could see more of. Something different to the ‘bisexual-as-sadist/psychopath’ trope that has been perpetuated for years in media (highlighted by Trevor and Juri), or not just as someone to bed like in Mass Effect.

There has been a massive boost to diversity with games like Overwatch and Apex Legends, where characters preferences and sexualities are highlighted, but are never more than a bark or backstory, one that we may never see.

I’ve only really scratched the surface in this short post, and there are much smarter and more qualified people to really dig into the stuff I’ve mentioned. But there is a reason I wanted to write about this topic. While I wholeheartedly approve and promote for more representation and inclusivity, I want to add to it. It was an important first step to show LGBT characters, now I would like to see mainstream games tackle issues around it.

Some of the best books (Giovanni’s Room), television shows (The Sopranos Seasons 5-6), and films (Call Me By Your Name) have been about coming out, homophobia (internal and external), and civil rights, why not games? The only game I can think of that has broached these subjects is Persona 4. In that game, punk biker dude Kanji Tatsumi struggles between his outward masculinity and his sexual identity, which he feels are incompatible with each other. His internal battle is something rarely seen in games and it helps develop a compelling character in the process.

It doesn’t have to be for a whole game, but have it as a continual thing in the background, waiting for its chance to come into the limelight, rather than being thrown out for a level or two. I want to move the focus to the main character, where their relationships are part of the main story. Player and avatar don’t always have to be in sync, and I feel that’s where the best stories are found, where the player lives in another’s shoes.

Let us step into those stories, experience a character’s world, and who knows, we may find ourselves identifying with them more than we could have ever known. That can only be a good thing.

The LGBTQ Video Game Archive has been instrumental in the creation of this piece. Check out the website here.

Banner Photo Source: assassinscreedfandom.com