Games Are a Vital Resource in an Increasingly Hostile World
Across demographics in our study, over 90% of gamers report gaming is something they do for fun, almost equally across all age groups. Gaming is also used to release stress and relax.
A majority of all gamers enjoy that games allow them to be immersed in fictional worlds and that games allow them to experience the perspective of people different from them. LGBTQ gamers specifically are 12% and 19% more likely than non-LGBTQ gamers to enjoy these experiences that gaming allows. That said, given how little LGBTQ representation exists in games,
LGBTQ gamers have had little chance to experience games from the perspective of people like them, and non-LGBTQ people have little chance to experience games from the perspective of LGBTQ people. LGBTQ gamers are 11% more likely than non-LGBTQ gamers to use gaming to escape from difficult situations in the real world and 24% more likely to depend on gaming to get them through tough times. For LGBTQ gamers, gaming can not only be an escape and a way to cope but also an important outlet of self-expression. 74% of LGBTQ gamers say they can be their true selves while gaming (which is 16% more likely than non-LGBTQ gamers). And 66% of LGBTQ gamers say gaming allows them to express themselves in a way they don’t feel comfortable doing in the real world (which is 35% more likely than non-LGBTQ gamers).
These percentages are even higher for LGBTQ gamers in states that have proposed or passed anti-LGBTQ legislation.12 Since January 2023, Equality Federation has tracked over 500 anti-LGBTQ bills across the United States, with a majority of those bills targeting transgender people (primarily youth). This is over 250 more bills in 2023 compared to 2022, which was also an unprecedented year for anti-LGBTQ legislation. Even though a majority of these bills do not become law, their introduction causes great harm to LGBTQ people, specifically LGBTQ youth.
LGBTQ gamers are more likely to appreciate gaming as a way to experience different perspectives
Agree: I like that gaming allows me to experience the perspectives of people different from myself
3 out of 4 LGBTQ gamers seek opportunities to explore their true selves through gaming
Agree: I can be my true self while gaming
In these states, 65% of LGBTQ gamers note that they depend on video games to help get them through tough times, and 75% say games allow them to express themselves in ways they don’t feel comfortable doing in the real world. For these LGBTQ gamers, gaming is necessary to cope with real-world discrimination and targeting. Game developers need to understand the role gaming plays for LGBTQ gamers in the United States and especially LGBTQ gamers in states where they are disproportionately targeted and attacked.
Overall, 36% of LGBTQ gamers state that video games helped them discover their sexual orientation or gender identity. This number is even higher (41%) for LGBTQ gamers of color. 44% report video games help them cope with the lack of LGBTQ acceptance in the real world, and 50% feel more accepted in gaming communities than where they live. These numbers are even higher among heavy/core LGBTQ gamers (48% and 59%).
Still, 51% of LGBTQ gamers wish video games did more to help them express or explore their identity, and 74% wish there were more opportunities to explore their true selves through gaming.
Gaming is even more important to LGBTQ gamers who live in states that have proposed or passed anti-LGBTQ legislation
Agree: I feel more accepted in the gaming community than by the general public in the area where I live