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GLAAD’S INAUGURAL GLAAD GAMING REPORT FINDS GROWING NUMBER OF LGBTQ GAMERS WHILE LGBTQ CHARACTERS IN GAMES LAG FAR BEHIND
- Last updated: February 12, 2024
The report found nearly 1 in 5 active video game players are LGBTQ
The report revealed 75% of LGBTQ gamers who reside in states where anti-LGBTQ legislation has been passed or proposed said gaming allows them to express themselves in a way they don’t feel comfortable doing in the real world
The report showed over 50% of LGBTQ video game players reported harassment when playing online; 42% said they avoided playing because of the threat of harassment
New York, New York – Tuesday, February 13, 2024 – GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, today released its inaugural State of LGBTQ Inclusion in Video Games report, a first-of-its-kind comprehensive look at LGBTQ inclusion in video games. Year-round, the GLAAD Gaming team advocates for LGBTQ inclusion and consults with studios and creators on storylines and safety policies. This report was created to educate the game industry on the current state of LGBTQ representation that exists, make a fact-based business case for LGBTQ inclusion, and provide a playbook for more authentic representation.
Developed by the GLAAD Media Institute, in partnership with the Nielsen Games Team, data in GLAAD’s inaugural gaming report revealed that the video game industry lags far behind film and television industries when it comes to representation, visibility and inclusion. The report also showcased eye-opening spending and playing habits among both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ gamers when it comes to LGBTQ inclusion in video games, providing valuable data to studio creatives and executives and a deeper understanding of what LGBTQ gamers face online while playing, along with how and why inclusion in video games is good for the bottom line.
- One in five (17%) of active video game players are LGBTQ, but less than 2% of games on major consoles and PC include LGBTQ characters, based on publicly available tags and lists denoting LGBTQ-inclusive content.
- The number of active LGBTQ video game players has increased 70% percent, up from the 10% counted in the 2020 Nielsen Games 360 Survey.
- 7 out of 10 non-LGBTQ gamers said learning a main character in a game is LGBTQ would either positively influence, or make no difference to their likelihood to buy or play the game, while LGBTQ gamers are not only more likely to buy or play such a game, but nearly 3 out of 4 say seeing characters with their gender identity or sexual orientation represented well in a game makes them feel better about themselves.
- Large margins of both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ gamers agreed that they appreciate how gaming allows them to experience perspectives of people different from themselves, 80% and 67% respectively.
As more than 500 anti-LGBTQ bills were proposed in 2023 alone, GLAAD’s new report found that LGBTQ gamers are gravitating more toward video gaming communities for connection and belonging:
- 55% of LGBTQ gamers who reside in states where there has been recent anti-LGBTQ legislation proposed or passed say they feel more accepted in the gaming community than in general public areas where they live.
- 65% of LGBTQ gamers who reside in states where anti-LGBTQ legislation has been recently passed or proposed say they depend on video games to get them through tough times.
- 75% of LGBTQ gamers who reside in states where anti-LGBTQ legislation has been recently passed or proposed say that gaming allows them to express themselves in a way that they don’t feel comfortable doing in the real world.
The Report also found that while gaming is an important social outlet for LGBTQ gamers, harassment while playing online is commonplace, to the extent that many gamers quit playing:
- 71% of gamers said they have friends they can game with, and 63% wish they had more friends they could play or talk about games with.
- 52% of LGBTQ gamers reported experiencing harassment while playing online.
- 42% of LGBTQ gamers reported that they have avoided playing a game because they thought they would be harassed, and 27% have quit a game because of harassment.
Statement from GLAAD President & CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis:
“Particularly for LGBTQ gamers, gaming is not only an escape and source of entertainment, but also an important outlet of self-expression. It is past time for LGBTQ gamers to see our community represented in games that they play and to be safe while they connect with other gamers and express themselves. This report presents a clear business case for the industry to take action and address the needs of a rapidly growing portion of gamers. The message is clear: gamers want more inclusive LGBTQ representation in their games and the industry must become more inclusive.”
Statement from GLAAD Associate Director of Gaming, Blair Durkee:
“The findings of this report send a powerful message to the industry: it is time to move past the idea that LGBTQ-inclusive games are a separate, niche category. All games should strive to reflect the people who play them. And when 1 in 5 gamers are LGBTQ, any game with five or more characters has no excuse for lacking LGBTQ inclusion.”
Statement from Nielsen SVP, Diverse Insights and Initiatives, Stacie deArmas:
“LGBTQ gamers have growing influence in the gaming industry. 17% of active gamers are LGBTQ – a 70% increase since Nielsen’s Games360 study in 2020. For brands looking to engage LGBTQ gamers, creating a safe and inclusive environment must extend beyond the game itself – nearly 70% of respondents are less likely to buy from studios with a history of mistreating LGBTQ workers.”
GLAAD is also providing the following recommendations for game industry leaders to meet the moment and enhance how LGBTQ people are seen in their products and the industry at-large:
- The percentage of games with LGBTQ representation should be proportional to the share of gamers who are LGBTQ.
- Game developers should strive for representation that promotes inclusivity and acceptance.
- The game industry should take responsibility for making their communities more inclusive.
- The game industry should consult LGBTQ media content experts.
- LGBTQ game industry workers should be hired in positions of authority.
READ THE FULL REPORT HERE
See the GLAAD Gaming Digital Toolkit HERE
GLAAD partnered with the Nielsen Games team for the custom survey portion of GLAAD’s inaugural Gaming Report. Nielsen is a global leader in audience measurement, data, and analytics. Nielsen’s gaming team was formed in 2005 to provide “exclusive market research and consumer insights across physical and digital platforms, devices, and hardware. With comprehensive metrics including awareness and resonance over time, [Nielsen] provides proprietary ratings to help…understand gamer preferences and demographics.”
Nielsen fielded a 10-minute survey among active PC/console gamers in the United States with a boost sample of LGBTQ+ gamers to help GLAAD better understand the relationship between the LGBTQ+ community and the game industry in terms of representation, harassment, and overall attitudes and behaviors.
This study was fielded by Nielsen between June and August 2023 via a trusted third-party panel. 1,452 active PC/console gamers were identified by their self-reported behavior.
Other GLAAD-owned or third-party usage of data and insights is properly sourced or linked within the report.
About GLAAD Gaming:
GLAAD works to advance LGBTQ inclusion and representation in video games and the gaming industry. GLAAD’s staff consults on LGBTQ storylines and characters, provides educational workshops to game studios, and fields original research on LGBTQ inclusion in games and the demographics of the gaming community. In 2015, GLAAD worked with Electronic Arts to make The Sims 4 more inclusive of gender diversity, and in 2020, GLAAD consulted with Xbox Game Studios and DONTNOD Entertainment on Tell Me Why, which featured the first playable transgender character in a major studio game. Additionally, the GLAAD Media Awards recognize impactful LGBTQ representation in games through the Outstanding Video Game category.
About the GLAAD Media Institute:
The GLAAD Media Institute provides training, consultation, and actionable research to develop an army of social justice ambassadors for all marginalized communities to champion acceptance and amplify media impact. GLAAD’s Studio Responsibility Index was launched in 2013 after seeing the progress driven by the organization’s work and research in LGBTQ storytelling on television. Earlier versions, along with the GLAAD research library can be found at GLAAD.org/SRI.
About GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.
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