It’s an overused phrase, but the last 12 months have been a revolutionary time for LGBTQ+ gamers and industry professionals. 2019/20 saw a number of initiatives launched to support and celebrate the LGBTQ+ gamer community, and an increase in meaningful, authentic ways of representing LGBTQ+ people in games themselves. Allow me to spell it out…
P – Publications
First up was the launch of Gayming Magazine, the world’s only LGBTQ+ gamer magazine. Even in my wildest dreams, I wasn’t prepared for how it would become a beloved title in a crowded market. It just goes to show that the LGBTQ+ market is ready and waiting, and they want meaningful and authentic engagement. Similarly, when we delivered Europe’s first major event for the LGBTQ+ players and professionals, as we did in October 2019 with the first iteration of Gayming Live, we were able to catapult the LGBTQ+ gaymer community into the spotlight with well supported and attended events. For more, visit gaymingmag.com.
R – Representation
2019 saw the formation of Out Making Games, the industry LGBTQ+ representation group, with a mission to empower the LGBTQ+ community. This marked a big step in celebrating our contribution to the industry. Given recent events, OMG are working on digital solutions which are coming out over the summer.
I – Industry Census
One of the turning points over the last year was the UK Games Industry Census, which showed that 21 per cent of people working in games identify as LGBTQ+, significantly above the average UK LGBTQ+ population of 3-7%. It’s heartening to see such a significant number working in the industry. It is up to the industry to listen to their workers and let them help shape future content. This is an amazing response to players who say that LGBTQ+ issues shouldn’t be in games and we don’t belong in the industry… well, we’re already here!
D – Diverse Companies
This past year has seen a refocusing of attention by studios on encouraging diversity. There were meetings and mixers at Develop:Brighton last July which focussed on how to support and grow a diverse workforce. We’ve seen the launch of new studios & publishers who are diversity focussed and we’ve seen already diverse studios grow. Plus, we saw the launch of Ukie’s #RaiseTheGame initiative – a collaborative pledge to improve diversity and inclusion in the games industry. Its ambition is to sign up 200 UK game businesses covering 50 per cent of the workforce by 2021, aiming to inspire meaningful cultural and behavioural change in companies.
E – Experience in Game
We’ve seen a growing number of games with meaningful LGBTQ+ content in the past 18 months, particularly indie titles. The rise of the LGBTQ+ indies has been a wonder to behold with what feels like a new LGBTQ+ game announced each week. We try to keep up with every announcement, but even we sometimes can’t keep up! Meanwhile in the AAA world, the last 12 months hase seen a one of the first portrayals of an asexual person with Pavarti in The Outer Worlds, and the depiction of a non-binary person in Final Fantasy 7 Remake.
The next year a has the potential to be historic with the arrival of Cyberpunk and the most diverse character creator ever, Tell Me Why with the first major trans protagonist, and The Last of Us 2 with the first lesbian protagonist in a AAA game. Plus, Gayming Live returns in October, featuring Europe’s first LGBTQ video game industry conference and the world’s first video game-themed drag show!
The ongoing crisis has resulted in the majority of pride events being cancelled. But it’s not going to keep us from celebrating our history, our achievements and our contribution. Come on over to Gayming Magazine for a summer-long celebration of Pride we’re calling DIGIPRIDE, featuring interviews, reviews, gameplay, exhibitions, panels and so much more!
Robin Gray is editor and co-founder of Gayming Magazine and part of the Out Making Games LGBTQ initiative. To find out more, visit gaymingmag.com