Nearly one in five gamers are members of the LGBT+ community, but LGBT+ storylines and characters make up less than two percent of all games.
This is according to the first ever report from GLAAD Gaming, the global leader in championing LGBT+ representation, alongside market research firm Nielson.
A previous report from Nielson three years ago indicated that 10% of players were LGBT+. This now represents 17 percent, an increase of 70 percent.
Notably, players identifying as LGBT+ are younger (under 35), likely due to greater acceptance in this age group.
However, the report claims that games with LGBT+ characters and storylines make up less than 2% of games in the Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo digital libraries. On Steam, they make up less than 2.5 percent, but drop to just 1.7 percent when adult games are excluded.
That said, this search was done by filtering with the LGBT+ tag on each store, meaning some games not tagged accordingly may not be included.
The report includes many statistics on the importance of representation. 72% of LGBT+ gamers say seeing characters that match their gender identity or sexual orientation well-represented helps them feel better about themselves, while 68% wish there were more LGBT+ storylines.
Additionally, 66% of LGBT+ gamers say games allow them to express themselves in ways they can’t in reality; 36% of LGBT+ gamers said the game helped them discover their sexuality; and 11% of LGBT+ gamers use games to escape difficult situations in the real world.
51% of LGBT+ gamers would like games to help them more express their identity. This certainly ties back to the character creators and the need for diverse representation.
Finally, harassment remains a major problem for LGBT+ gamers. 52% of LGBT+ gamers have experienced harassment while playing online, compared to 38% of non-LGBT+ gamers. 42 percent avoided a match for fear of harassment, while 27 percent quit because of harassment.
Ultimately, the report calls for inclusive representation and acceptance of LGBT+ people in games, arguing that the percentage of games with LGBT+ representation should be proportional to the share of LGBT+ players.
Additionally, the video game industry should take responsibility for fostering inclusive communities and hiring LGBT+ people in positions of authority throughout the industry.
“We believe LGBTQ inclusion benefits both the gaming industry and the community,” said Blair Durkee, associate director of gaming at GLAAD. “As this report shows, the presence of LGBTQ characters or storylines does not significantly deter non-LGBTQ people from purchasing or playing games, but it makes a huge difference for LGBTQ gamers.
“Despite the significant progress we have seen, gaming remains woefully behind other forms of entertainment media in terms of representation.”
GLAAD’s report was conducted with Nielson, based on 1,452 self-reported PC/console gamers based in the United States. The full report is available on the GLAAD website.
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