With summer’s arrival, temperatures are rising for those of us in the northern hemisphere and no, don’t think too hard about why it’s so hot or what that strange haze in the air is. Instead, let’s think about summer! What better way to get away from it all than to dream up your very own queer commune, filled with all your gaming faves? That’s exactly what the Sidequest squad is doing for this month’s roundtable!

In which game world or setting would you set up your commune?

Zainabb Hull: I’d be more than happy with a classic “commune in the woods” vibe, preferably somewhere slightly haunted and full of bears (the animal kind and the queer kind), like Cozy Grove. But this is my dream queer commune so mine would be in Journey‘s desert. My brown, chronically ill bones benefit greatly from a dry heat and what better way to really practice queerness than sharing our space and resources with the various travellers passing through? We might need a few folks on sand-sweeping duty though.

Melissa Brinks: Initially I tried to think of the most beautiful worlds and then realized that all of those are quite dangerous. I don’t want to be threatened by wandering infected or bokoblins. Animal Crossing it is, where the biggest threats are the things that are already in my backyard. (Except scorpions. They can stay elsewhere.)

A screenshot of a grassy field in Breath of the Wild. Link sits on a horse's back, looking out over the rolling fields and distant cliffs.

Maddi Butler: My gut check reaction was, as usual, Nier, because I’ve spent countless hours idling in Nier’s village and in Seafront. However, numerous catastrophic events happen throughout the course of the game, so I think it would be hard to settle down for the long term.

I’ve been spending a ton of time playing Tears of the Kingdom lately, which has some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever enjoyed in a video game. However, Hyrule is pretty constantly besieged by calamity and ultimately that is not the vibe I am trying to pursue for my commune. No—I think the perfect place to settle down would be Corvo Bianco, Geralt’s winery and estate in The Witcher 3’s Blood and Wine DLC. The property has a spacious house (library included), expansive gardens, a stable for equine guests, and even a small workshop, all nestled into a picturesque hillside. Plus, selling Corvo Bianco’s unique wine would surely keep the bills paid.

Cress: The Atelier worlds were what came to mind at first, especially Atelier Ayesha. It has such a calm and beautiful landscape with fun apothecary stuff. But I’m gonna go with a chaos option, and choose the Haligtree from Elden Ring! Miquella did originally want it to be a safe haven to those that fell out of the strict Golden Order. So with a little sprucing up, I think its autumnal feeling and grand vistas will be an elegant abode.

Who’s the overly enthusiastic self-appointed commune chair you lowkey can’t stand?

Zainabb: Alistair from Dragon Age: Origins. Look, I don’t dislike Alistair (although I do find him quite cringe sometimes) but I think he would immediately and enthusiastically volunteer as chair and I do not think he would be good at it. Alistair does not strike me as a particularly organised person who’s able to deftly facilitate difficult conversations when they come up; instead, I think any conflict would end up in hours-long, heated arguments punctuated by Alistair’s own ineffectual interjections. Thanks for trying, Alistair, but perhaps we could let Leliana step in next time.

Melissa: You know, I love Alistair, but you’re so right: he would be the absolute worst pick. I’m going to stick with the Animal Crossing theme, though—if Tom Nook tries to boss me around, I will not hesitate to push him into the sea. Just because you’re sitting on a big pile of bells doesn’t mean you actually know what’s best for everybody! I don’t care that you have “experience,” Tom! I would overthrow you in your own game if I could!

Maddi: You know, I think this may be a little controversial, but probably Zagreus. Would he get stuff done? Absolutely. Would his relentless optimism also get on my nerves? Probably! I do think it would be difficult to stay mad at Zagreus, though, so it’s probably an “I like you more as a friend than a coworker” situation.

Cress: Siegward of Catarina from Dark Souls 3. I think he would mean well, deeply care about the work and always be jolly. Buuuut he would definitely over-promise and get in over his head on a regular basis. He’d be more like a figurehead that everyone generally likes as a person, but will need the whole village to just keep an eye on him and always have an extra suit of his onion knight armour on hand.

Standing nearby trees with the Temple of Time in the background, Link leans over a fire pit with apples. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo, 2017.

Who’s the resident cook and what’s on the menu for this week’s communal dinner?

Melissa: I haven’t actually played Monster Hunter but I have seen some of the dishes the Palicos prepare while watching my husband play, so that’s my answer. Those dishes look incredible. This week’s meal is a variety of barbecued, locally caught fish served with a fruit salad and warm bread.

Maddi: Link. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, Link deserves rest after his many ordeals, but also: I want to try that carrot cake! The cheesy prime meat and rice bowl! Hylian pizza! Every single crepe! Melty cheesy bread!

Cress: I second having Link as head chef! Look at the absolute joy on his face every time he cooks! I wonder if he could even make Estus Soup?

Zainabb: I also thought about Link but decided against it because my short-lived (so far) experience of cooking in Breath of the Wild only resulted in some suspect stews. But Maddi and Cress, you’ve reassured me that it’s only me who’s terrible at cooking, not poor Link!

If Link is a bit too busy whipping up pizza and soup at your communes, though, I’d take a lot of joy in The Cook from The Last Campfire serving delicious savoury and sweet baked goods from Calico. How will The Cook bake breads, cake, and dumplings in a cauldron? Who knows! But they’re a giant adorable turtle, and carbs are happiness.

Melissa: Having thought more about this, the accurate answer is probably that I am the cook at the queer gaming commune because of my copious hours spent in Cook! Serve! Delicious! as well as the amount of time I spend cooking for people in real life.

Who—or what—roams the nearby woods/wasteland/mysterious ruins (adapt to your setting as needed)? How do the members of your commune react to this presence?

Melissa: I desperately want to see the colossi from Shadow of the Colossus, so that’s what I’m going with. Having played the game and not being part of a doomed quest to save my beloved, I and the other members of the commune treat the colossi with respect; they have their business, and we have ours. If they wanted to come hang out with us, they would be allowed. We would encourage others to treat them with reverence, because they’re beautiful and useful and nonthreatening, provided you’re not up to any shady business.

Maddi: I can’t help but imagine how cool it would be to look toward the sky and see the dragons from Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom gracefully floating past. I feel quite certain they’d leave the humans alone, as long as we extended them the same courtesy.

Cress: Since it’s the Haligtree, I imagine the Misbegotten would be a part of the commune and generally hanging around. Commune is opt-in and we’re living in their space, so I want it to be a respectful cohabitation in the tree. Within the main game we don’t get to speak with too many Misbegotten besides Boc, (inviting him as soon as possible to the commune by the way) so learning about their various cultures and day to day life would be awesome.

Towards the roots of the Haligtree there is rot and critters that live in it. Rot is a natural part of life, but if it’s possible to protect and restore the roots of the tree, the commune would engage in ecological surveys to promote the health of the Haligtree.

Zainabb: Melissa, I love your answer and will be arranging a trip to your commune to watch the colossi in quiet wonder. I’m also mega appreciating everyone’s commitment to respectful cohabitation with nature and all its marvels.

I’m going to pick a slightly more macabre creature: the Lindworm from Jay Dragon’s Sleepaway—although similarly to everyone else, commune members would still respect the cryptid’s presence. We might need to take precautions to protect each other, and occasionally have to deal with weird goings-on, but with the understanding that nature—and life itself—can be hostile sometimes, and that’s okay.

A screenshot of The Last of Us Part II showing Ellie strumming a guitar.

Who have you all agreed to keep the acoustic guitar away from?

Zainabb: Blackwall from Dragon Age: Inquisition. I cannot endure another Friday night rendition of Johnny Cash’s Hurt.

Melissa: Arthur Morgan from Red Dead Redemption 2 is no longer allowed to touch the acoustic guitar after subjecting the commune to drunken renditions of every sad country song in existence. Even his admittedly joyous rendition of Ned Sublette’s “Cowboys are Frequently, Secretly Fond of Each Other” could not make up for the number of tears shed during his performance of Martina McBride’s “Concrete Angel.”

Maddi: Everyone from The Last of Us has had their guitar privileges revoked. Devola and Popola (Nier: Replicant) would be suitable musicians for a more melancholy, calm sound, or Kass (Breath of the Wild) or the Stable Trotters (Tears of the Kingdom) for livelier tunes.

Cress: Keeping in the Soulsborne world, I thought of Griggs of Vinheim first from Dark Souls. He just feels like someone who’d keep doing sappy love songs while tripping over chords. I will let Patches play though, because he feels like a jack-of-all-trades and if he’s on stage he’s not dicking around elsewhere!