Given the growing proportion of LGBTQ gamers as a percentage of the gaming audience, the game industry should be on the leading edge of representation compared to other media industries.
The percentage of games with LGBTQ representation should be proportional to the share of gamers who are LGBTQ
As a baseline, there should at least be an equal proportion of games with LGBTQ characters as there are LGBTQ people who are gamers. That representation should also appear across game genres and platforms, so that all LGBTQ gamers, regardless of what they play, can see themselves represented.
Game developers should strive for representation that promotes inclusivity and acceptance
Encouraging acceptance will help make gaming culture less toxic, and, as we have found, gamers who feel more accepted and included in games spend more on games. While not the only metric for meaningful representation, the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Video Game criteria can provide developers with a solid framework to evaluate their LGBTQ content:
- Authenticity is a measure of how fair and accurate the depictions of LGBTQ characters are, including whether the content avoids harmful tropes and stereotypes.
- Boldness and originality are determined by how a game builds on prior instances of representation, telling underrepresented stories in fresh and thought-provoking ways.
- Impact is driven by the salience of the LGBTQ content within the game, as well as the game’s availability and reach.
- Quality is everything else that goes into making a game a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Gamers should not have to lower their standards for the games they play to see authentic LGBTQ representation.
The game industry should take responsibility for making their communities more inclusive
LGBTQ gamers say that they feel freer in expressing themselves in gaming than they do in the real world, and yet most also believe the video game industry does not think about gamers like them. A majority of all gamers assert that the game industry has a responsibility to make gaming spaces more inclusive. Some LGBTQ gamers have avoided or stopped playing games because of harassment. Companies should actively ensure they are creating communities that are hospitable to LGBTQ gamers.
The game industry should consult LGBTQ media content experts
The historical, social, and political complexities of LGBTQ representation require specialized knowledge and training. Game industry jobs do not inherently require training in these topics, but there are many media content experts and organizations who have spent years thinking through these issues and can help game companies avoid problematic tropes and conventions when adding LGBTQ representation to games. These experts need to be included throughout the development process, not just at the end.
LGBTQ game industry workers should be hired in positions of authority
Although being LGBTQ does not necessarily make one equipped to implement needed changes, more representation in leadership roles can improve working conditions as well as player experiences and in-game representation. Having LGBTQ people in positions of authority may allow them to see where more inclusive workplace, game content, and community management decisions can be made.