Saved by the BL

Words by Ansis Sy | Art by Tej Tan

How Gameboys Traversed Through Screens to Become the Unlikely Hero of 2020

Created by the Ideafirst Company, Gameboys the Series is the story of two boys who meet online and fall in love despite being physically separated by the pandemic. Since its premiere last May, the show has amassed millions of views online, has regularly trended on social media, and has touched the hearts of fans from all over the world – setting the standard for boys’ love series (BLs) here in the Philippines.

Direk Perci Intalan, the company’s president, said in an article by the Philippine Star that the show has been their north star. And it has been mine too. I don’t think I would’ve survived this six-month-long (as of writing) lockdown without Cai, Gav, and Pearl. I was sure others felt the same way, so I reached out to fans and asked how Gameboys saved them during these crazy times.

The Ideafirst Company started Gameboys to generate jobs and to boost the morale of its team. It did that and so much more.
Happy Ferraren

It was a courageous endeavor. At the height of COVID, they decided to do what we all thought was impossible – keeping the ‘non-essential’ creative spirit alive in a meaningful and impactful way. I heard in an interview that [the company] just wanted to do a BL series and generate jobs for their crew. What a genuine and generous effort. It was an inspiration to see someone make something of that quality given the crazy restrictions, unbelievable circumstances, and loss of morale. Feel good and heart-warming. Sobrang kinilig ako sa love story at sa fighting spirit ng buong production team.

Similar to Gav, Cairo, and Pearl, Gameboys has helped form new friendships online and reinforced old bonds in spite of physical distancing.
Jem Sagcal

Gameboys was a show that really made me bond more with my friends. We’re very close and have known each other since childhood. Being away from each other during a pandemic is hard on us. Gameboys was our watch party. Tsaka we needed a story of love and hope during this time – it was such a huge break from all the gloom.

Katherine Baltazar

All my life I’ve never found such a safe place and a comfort zone in my 19 years of existence, apart from my family – until GB happened… Life’s a bitch lately but Gameboys saved me. I’ll miss everyone… those crazy premiere nights?? Twitter parties? Live reactors meeting? Interviews?? Oh life’s been too good and how beautiful it is to be alive.

Kween Pearl has also been OUR emotional support in these trying times. 

The Ideafirst Company started Gameboys to generate jobs and to boost the morale of its team. It did that and so much more.
JP Lopez

My shows got cancelled during the pandemic, workshops that I was supposed to handle got cancelled, events and a concert I was supposed to direct got cancelled. I wasn’t in a good place. Was in a daze then dumaan sa timeline ko sa FB yung link ng Gameboys. It helped me… process what I was feeling. The show has made me appreciate the fact that I am not alone, that others are going through their own problems. It inspired me to write again so that I have an outlet for my emotions.

Michael Mones

Gameboys has kept my sanity during these trying and difficult times, it helped me get through this pandemic. The cast, the team behind the camera, Idea First Co, and the other fans are like my extended family. Thank you.

Gameboys served as a reflection of our current reality, and it didn’t shy away from discussing relevant topics. It was hopeful and inspiring because we saw our real selves – flaws and all – in the show.
Joaquin de Joya

I think the quality that made it rise in the BL scene was how grounded and authentic they wanted to make the story. Amidst being affected by the government’s decisions, the lack of proper healthcare in our country, the prejudice given to the LGBT Community and much more, Gameboys didn’t sugarcoat anything. They were neither trying to capitalize on the LGBT community nor dissuade the audience from real-world issues. They didn’t make this some make-believe fantasy of two boys amazingly finding love through the internet. Instead, they took our reality of the lack of communication we have right now and weaved into it a simple story that made a mark.

Jan Ong

Sobrang love ko how Gameboys was honest, attentive, and sensitive in its storytelling… It gives me a lot of hope that things like love are still possible in these trying times. And though it might be difficult — just like how Cai and Gav’s story was — in the end, it’s all really worth it. It also reminded me that intrinsically flawed talaga ang humans (in general, but especially in) relationships. We all make mistakes and misjudgements at a certain point but what makes the magic is really the willingness of both sides to put down their pride and compromise… Love na love ko ang Gameboys because it’s one of the most reflective BLs I’ve seen… Di lang siya love story, but it reflects a time in history.

Nico Simon Lopez

Gameboys is so relatable on so many levels, and I wish I had watched this series when I was a teenager and still coming to terms with my sexuality. The issues that this series tackles are relevant to anyone who is struggling with the current pandemic, and to people who are maintaining and navigating platonic and romantic relationships… Hands down, best Pinoy BL series.

BL Gameboys

In solidarity with fans from all over the world, the Gameboys team says “Gay Rights!” 

Gameboys gave us excellent and accurate queer representation on TV! What more can we ask for?

GB helped me survive this pandemic… Saying this series changed my life is an understatement. Through this series, I got to know myself more. I embraced my sexuality. I was able to learn more just by watching a series.

Brian (@anubrian)

It’s been seven years. I’m not really mad at anyone, but I was scared and hurt for quite some time. When I was in high school, only three people knew I was gay… Then one day, everyone found out about my sexuality and crush. I don’t know how but I was outed just like Cairo from Gameboys… That’s why I really admire Gameboys for telling real life stories and [issues that] really affect people from the LGBTQ+ community.

CJ Lee

You don’t apologize for being who you are,’ ‘You are safe with us,’ and ‘I hope you forgive yourself, too.’ These were the things Gameboys told me and assured me. Wala pang nagsabi sakin ng mga yan. Sila pa lang.


Dahil sa discrimination on the LGBT and me growing up thinking that my feelings are wrong, talagang nagka affect sa tingin ko sa sarili ko. Why am I like this? Am I an abomination?’ But then Gameboys came into my life. It saved me by reminding me that I have my worth. My problems are valid, my fears are valid, my love is valid. I, as a whole, am valid. This show gave me the validation I needed. The validation that I didn’t get from those close to me.

In video games, players can save the game to preserve their progress. In this quarantine, Gameboys has become our Save button – a beacon of hope to return to whenever we encounter setbacks. We might feel alone and invalidated. We might face defeat in our fight for equality. But the show and the community it has fostered will always be a safe space to come back to. 

The ecosystem created by Gameboys has the power to make a difference, as Dir. Perci mentioned in the last reactors meet. And with season two and Pearl Next Door coming soon, it’s not hard to imagine how Gameboys and its fans can absolutely save the world.