I’ve identified that illustration in video games mattered ever since that day in 1987 after I completed Metroid and found that intergalactic bounty hunter Samus Aran was that rarest of issues (for the time): a cool feminine video-game protagonist. I liked enjoying as Mario, or Hyperlink, or any intrepid hero, however I used to be significantly thrilled to see a recreation say that girls will be heroes, too. Now, with video games a extra necessary cultural pressure than ever, the influential media advocacy group GLAAD has launched its first-ever in-depth report analyzing how video games are doing by way of LGBTQ illustration. The information strongly means that, on one hand, video games play an necessary position within the lives of many queer gamers, significantly queer youth, and on the opposite, that video games are falling far quick by way of adequately representing and reaching these gamers.
The report, launched at present, is filled with fascinating and necessary statistics, collected in partnership with the media information and analytics agency Nielsen, and you can see it in its entirety here. Amongst GLAAD’s most putting findings is that 17 p.c of lively avid gamers determine as LGBTQ. And but, solely a paltry 2 p.c of video games on main PC and console storefronts (PSN, Steam, the Nintendo eShop and so forth) are tagged as having LGBTQ content material, suggesting that video games which really function queer characters or storylines stay extraordinarily uncommon. With huge, influential video games like The Final of Us Half II and Apex Legends prominently that includes queer and trans characters, it’s maybe simple to really feel like LGBTQ illustration in video games is extra widespread than it really is, when the truth could also be that the business remains to be falling properly wanting adequately reflecting the LGBTQ participant base.
Video games are a refuge for a lot of queer gamers
The information reveals that many individuals who play video games are queer, and that video games usually play a very necessary position of their lives. For a lot of of them, on this interval when lots of of items of anti-LGBTQ laws are being launched, video games could also be one thing of a secure haven. In keeping with GLAAD, 55 p.c of LGBTQ avid gamers who reside in states the place such laws has been proposed or handed say they really feel extra accepted within the gaming neighborhood than they do on the whole public areas the place they reside. Sixty-five p.c of gamers in these states say that they rely on video games to get them by way of powerful occasions, and a whopping 75 p.c say that video games enable them to specific themselves in methods they don’t really feel comfy doing in the true world.
As a trans one that grew up with video games and who has identified many different queer and trans folks for whom video games have been a significant avenue of exploration and expression in a hostile world, I wasn’t precisely shocked by this information, and but seeing numbers asserting simply how widespread such experiences are is highly effective and compelling. On a video name, I requested Blair Durkee, affiliate director of gaming for GLAAD, concerning the notion that video games are doing higher on the LGBTQ illustration entrance than they really are. “I believe a lot of our media is dominated by individuals who reside in additional progressive areas,” she mentioned, “and so they neglect that there’s a large swath of the nation that’s nonetheless deep, deep on this anti-LGBTQ tradition. That was one of many issues we tried to focus on with our stats taking a look at LGBTQ avid gamers who reside in additional restrictive states, states which have handed or proposed anti-LGBTQ laws versus LGBTQ avid gamers in different areas.”
At the same time as many LGBTQ gamers discover alternatives for neighborhood and self-expression in video games, in addition they stay at greater danger for harassment in gaming areas, with 52 p.c saying they’ve skilled harassment when enjoying on-line, and 61 p.c expressing discomfort about utilizing voice chat in on-line video games.
The capitalist argument for higher LGBTQ illustration in video games
After all, GLAAD isn’t simply gathering this information as a result of it’s fascinating. The group hopes to encourage builders and studios to do extra to replicate and characterize LGBTQ gamers. A typical argument I’ve heard for why video games haven’t made extra effort to include homosexual and trans characters and storylines is that builders or publishers could also be afraid of alienating or driving away non-LGBTQ gamers. Nonetheless, the info suggests, that recreation builders are leaving cash on the desk, as LGBTQ gamers gravitate towards video games wherein they will see themselves mirrored. In the meantime, 60 p.c of non-LGBTQ gamers say that enjoying as an LGBTQ character would make no distinction of their choice to purchase a recreation. “The resistance towards LGBTQ content material in video games is waning,” says the report’s introduction, “as every successive technology of avid gamers is extra various and extra open to seeing LGBTQ illustration of their video games.”
Once I requested Durkee what she hopes the report may assist to perform, she mentioned that it’s about “altering the way in which the business actually thinks about our neighborhood.” She references feedback made by Dragon Age lead author David Gaider, who said that there’s a proportion of the gaming inhabitants–like queer and trans gamers–which is already enjoying regardless of being basically uninvited, and the business sees us as “gravy”—a pleasant further however not a gaggle price catering to immediately. “All this work that we’ve been doing during the last a number of years,” Durkee mentioned, “has been geared toward altering that mentality. Our neighborhood is a big proportion of the general gaming inhabitants, almost one in 5. And should you’re ignoring that neighborhood, you’re doing it to your personal detriment. There’s rather more to realize by being inclusive and by increasing your viewers than by catering to the identical outdated demographic time and again.”
You possibly can learn GLAAD’s full, inaugural report on the state of LGBTQ inclusion in video games now.