Throughout the history of video games, those in the LGBTQ+ community have not only been subjected to a lack of inclusivity and representation in the games they love to play, but also countless cases of harassment and prejudiced actions via user commentary and abundance of derogatory trash talking.
The games themselves have also been at fault – with a lack of strong, prominent characters that this section of the gaming community could relate to.
According to Pink News, LGBTQ+ people make up “more than a fifth of the gaming industry”, citing a report that also notes that these same people “tend to experience higher rates of mental health issues than the general population.”
GLAAD also reported in 2019 that “one in three LGBTQ gamers have faced identity-based harassment in multiplayer games.”
So what is being done to change all of this?
In recent years, there has been an uptick of efforts within and around the gaming industry to create a more inclusive environment while also creating more progressive and inclusive characters.
One case is the first ever transgendered hero being featured as the main protagonist for a game.
Another is featured in a mainstream, popular release, “The Last of Us Part II”, which featured “player character Ellie dancing with and kissing another girl” in its trailer.
There are also articles being published to help shine a light on previous LGBTQ+ characters that may have been overlooked or unknown to many.
Tori Schafer, who works as a writer and designer in the gaming industry, shared the foundational requirements for what solid representation LGBTQ+ representation looks like with Game Daily:
“Realism, being considerate of a person’s identity, explicitly stating a character’s identity, and making sure a narrative is respectful of that identity.”
Schafer also noted that “creators need to be mindful of the past struggles experienced by the LGBTQ community so that they do not inadvertently reinforce harmful tropes and characterization.”
In addition to the game developers there are more ways than ever for gamers in the LGBTQ+ community to connect with each other and help create safe spaces where they can play.
Queers Play Games is a website that serves as a directory for those looking to find common ground in gaming, pointing the users to a plethora of specific communities.
While there are many mountains still to climb in this ongoing battle, there continues to be progress being made. However, there is still quite a ways to go in order for the gaming world to truly establish itself as an all-inclusive realm.