LGBTQ Video Game Content is Lacking
For the purposes of this report, and to set a baseline against which future industry efforts can be measured, GLAAD quantified the number of available games with LGBTQ content against the total number of games presently available.14 We did this by identifying games on the major PC and console distribution platforms that are publicly tagged or listed as having LGBTQ content. As this report looks at the current gaming world, we focused on games that the average consumer looking for LGBTQ content could easily find in the console/platform stores when searching for LGBTQ tags.
GLAAD counted the number of games that have been tagged as having LGBTQ content as of November 2023 from Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, and Steam (PC). According to Microsoft, there were 146 console games available in the Xbox store that had LGBTQ content. PlayStation maintained a list that includes 90 games. The Nintendo Switch eShop listed 50 games with the tag LGBT. Steam’s LGBTQ+ tag returned 2302 games available in English (as of November 2023), but that number dropped to 1506 when games with “adult only sexual content” were filtered out.15
In context, however, these games account for less than 2% of Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo’s total digital libraries. For Steam, it is less than 2.5%, but drops to just 1.7% when adult-only games are excluded. Mejeur and Ho, comparing data from the LGBTQ Game Archive to games represented in the MobyGames database, similarly found that only approximately 1% of all games released in the 2010s included LGBTQ content.
It is clear that the game industry lags far behind other media industries in terms of quantity of LGBTQ representation.The 2023 GLAAD Advertising Visibility Index showed that just “3% of all reviewed ads could be counted as including LGBTQ representation.”16 GLAAD’s 2023 Studio Responsibility Index found that 28.5% of films from the top 10 distributors in 2022 contained an LGBTQ character.17 For the 2022–23 season, GLAAD’s Where We Are on TV report found that 10.6% of series regulars on primetime scripted broadcast series were LGBTQ and in total, GLAAD counted 596 LGBTQ characters across primetime scripted broadcast, primetime scripted cable, and scripted streaming original series.18
We acknowledge that gaming is a different medium than film, television, and advertising in that representation is not applicable to every type of game. However, video games have come a long way since the days of Pong. Most games today are rich, multimedia experiences that broadly incorporate aspects of world-building, narrative, and characterization. Additionally, because our representation data is based on PC and console games (excluding mobile), we believe it is an accurate reflection of gaming’s overall lack of progress. That less than 2% of available games have LGBTQ content is out of step with contemporary media, and the game industry is failing LGBTQ consumers and our allies.