Advertisement

New GLAAD report finds LGBTQ representation lacking in video games

By Chris Benson
Visitors try out the latest video games during the Tokyo Game Show 2023 at the Makuhari Messe in Chiba-prefecture, Japan, in September. A recent study by GLAAD finds that there is a notable deficit in LGBTQ-inclusive gaming content available to the public. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
Visitors try out the latest video games during the Tokyo Game Show 2023 at the Makuhari Messe in Chiba-prefecture, Japan, in September. A recent study by GLAAD finds that there is a notable deficit in LGBTQ-inclusive gaming content available to the public. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 13 (UPI) -- A new study on LGBTQ-inclusive video gaming shows that less than 2% of games currently available on the market take into account LGBTQ-related content and characters.

The study by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation advocacy group was published Tuesday and shows that, despite nearly 1 in every 5 active gamers identifying as LGBTQ, there appears to be a gap in related gaming content.

Advertisement

GLAAD's top executive said data also shows that the combined estimated global revenue of gaming has surpassed that of film entertainment and recorded music.

"This report was created to educate the game industry on the current state of LGBTQ representation that exists, make a facts-based business case for LGBTQ inclusion, and provide a playbook for more authentic representation," wrote GLAAD's CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.

GLAAD used as a measurement the number of available games on the market with LGBTQ-related gaming content versus the total number of games currently available. In doing so, GLAAD said the study's authors found less than 2% of LGBTQ inclusion was seen on Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo gaming platforms.

LGBTQ gamers comprise nearly 20% of what is called "heavy" or "core" users who play video games more than 10 hours per week.

Advertisement

"The percentage of LGBTQ gamers is even higher among younger age groups, with 23 to 28% of gamers under 35 identifying as LGBTQ," the study's creators said.

GLAAD said that there are multiple reasons, some of which are passive, for the lack of LGBTQ representation in the gaming industry.

Gaming companies, according to GLAAD, often "have not considered that they should represent LGBTQ people." Their study suggests that companies, likewise, do not "see [LGBTQ gamers] as a major part of the core gaming audience."

It also said other exclusionary reasons "are active." The GLAAD report said that companies "worry about pushing away a core audience that they assume are resistant or hostile to LGBTQ content."

But the opinions by players toward LGBTQ game characters appear to be indifferent. When asked the question if a player had any feelings toward having an LGBTQ character in the storyline, 70% of players said it made no different in their decision to purchase a particular game.

"The resistance toward LGBTQ content in games is waning, as each successive generation of gamers is more diverse and more open to seeing LGBTQ representation in their games," said GLAAD.

"GLAAD's finding that 17% of active gamers are LGBTQ, and the growth from 10% of active gamers being LGBTQ from Nielsen's Games360 study in 2020, proves their tremendous influence on the gaming industry," said Stacie de Armas, Nielsen's Senior Vice President of Diverse Insights and Initiatives.

Advertisement

The study also points to economic factors at play, as well. According to Armas, for LGBTQ gamers, "a safe and inclusive environment goes beyond the game itself with nearly 70% indicating they are less likely to buy from a studio with a history of mistreating LGBTQ workers."

Latest Headlines