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Video Game / Caper in the Castro

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"It's 3:05 am. You have just been awakened by a phone call from your old friend, Tessy LaFemme. She sounded frantic and asked you to meet her in front of The Gayme Room, (a favorite hang-out of yours.) She said she'd be there in 15 minutes. She started to say something about getting the goods on Dullagan Straightman (notorious fiend & villan) but before you could ask Tessy what she meant.........she was cut off."

Believed to be the earliest LGBT video game, Caper in the Castro was released in 1989 by C.M. Ralph as "charityware" with the request that the player donate to an AIDS foundation as payment. Played worldwide yet only commercially published as a censored, hetero version "Murder on Main Street", this piece of gaming history seemed lost to time until a rediscovery of a hard copy in 2017. Both original and censored versions have since been publicly uploaded onto the Internet Archive for all to enjoy.

As for the gameplay, it's a mostly point-and-click mystery adventure chock full of queer inside jokes and graphics impressive for its obscure, now dated hypercard programming.


Caper in the Castro contains examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: In a 2014 interview with Paste Magazine, Caper creater C.M. Ralph refers to Tessy LaFemme as a transgender woman, and not a Drag Queen as sometimes believed.
  • Always Check Behind the Chair: There's some witty or even teasing flavor text to be discovered by examining some mundane objects such as the second trash can.
  • Cast Full of Gay: You had to ask?
  • Dramatic Ellipsis: Yes, there's three in a row in the opening prologue.
  • Gayborhood: The game was made as Ralph's way of thanking the bay area for welcoming her and her partner and acknowledging the commnunity's struggles. It's also set in the Castro, obviously.
  • Late to the Tragedy: As to be expected of a mystery, it's clear people have already died.
  • Meaningful Name: A lesbian named McDyke.
  • Advertisement:
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Walk down some damaged stairs? Dead!
  • Red Herring: There's a whole café named after the trope!
  • Second-Person Narration: As seen in the prologue and some of the interface.
  • Speedrun: The entire game can be beat in about 4 hours, reportedly.
  • You Can't Get Ye Flask: Aggravatingly though not unusual, there's a typo in the correct answer of an important text parser bit. ("shakles" instead of "shackles")