To accompany the official launch of GLAAD Gaming, the organisation has launched its first report on the state of LGBTQ+ avid gamers within the trade—and it may banish some frequent assumptions made by the general public at-large.

Based in 1985 through the AIDS epidemic, GLAAD focused defamatory protection and was capable of shift the editorial coverage of The New York Occasions. Since then, it is develop into one of many largest non-profit LGBTQ+ advocacy organisations on the planet, advocating for correct illustration throughout a number of types of totally different media together with movie, promoting, and social media initiatives. 

Its foray into gaming has been more moderen. Originating from the GLAAD Media Institute (created in 2018), the organisation has collaborated with a number of studios, most lately Respawn Leisure—who labored with GLAAD on the canonically-trans character Catalyst in Apex Legends.

In a full report shared with PC Gamer (and launched shortly earlier than publication), GLAAD has continued to additional its advocacy within the gaming trade. Developed alongside info, knowledge and market measurement agency Nielsen, its first report has turned up some attention-grabbing finds.

LGBTQ+ persons are disproportionately gaming (and for longer, too)

Whereas the total report has much more in the way in which of particulars, one specifically drew my eye. In accordance with GLAAD, 17%—almost 1 in 5—of avid gamers are LGBTQ+, which is a 7% enhance from a earlier Nielsen report in 2020. The report makes be aware of a Gallup Survey which estimated that round 7.2% of US adults “recognized as LGBT”.

(Picture credit score: GLAAD Gaming report, 2024.)

Taking that knowledge at face-value, LGBTQ+ persons are disproportionately gaming—1 in 10 in comparison with 1 in 5. Nonetheless, GLAAD’s survey pattern options avid gamers between the ages of 13 and 55, whereas Gallup’s survey targets US adults over the age of 18. In the identical Gallup survey, it discovered {that a} far bigger 19.7% of adults between ages 18 and 25 “recognized as LGBT”.

Nonetheless: Whereas comparisons towards the US inhabitants could possibly be defined by a distinct pattern age, the 2020 Nielsen report—the idea for that 7% acknowledged enhance—additionally surveyed “individuals over the age of 13”, so there’s much less variance there. As a private level of satisfaction, we’re additionally apparently extra hardcore. GLAAD’s survey states: “Counter to stereotypes, LGBTQ avid gamers make up 19% of heavy/core avid gamers (outlined as enjoying 10+ hours per week on PCs or consoles).” 

LGBTQ+ avid gamers confirmed a choice for single-player or co-op video games versus aggressive multiplayer video games resembling League of Legends or Fortnite. In single participant video games, 52% of respondents have been LGBTQ+ whereas 43% weren’t, whereas aggressive multiplayer video games skewed in the direction of non-LGBTQ+ gamers (28% have been, 34% weren’t).

(Picture credit score: GLAAD Gaming Report (2024))

Whereas it is necessary to not leap to conclusions concerning uncooked knowledge, it is exhausting to not see a sample between this and the survey’s reviews of harassment in on-line video games. 52% of LGBTQ+ gamers stated they’d been harassed whereas enjoying on-line, in comparison with 38% of non-LGBTQ+ gamers. They’re additionally much less more likely to really feel comfy utilizing voice chat, and fewer more likely to really feel as if the gaming group is welcome to them.

That is even supposing LGBTQ+ gamers additionally felt like video games have been a key escape from their real-life circumstances: “35% of LGBTQ avid gamers really feel that gaming is their solely outlet for socialising with different individuals, in comparison with 28% of non-LGBTQ avid gamers … half (50%) of LGBTQ avid gamers say that they really feel extra accepted by the gaming group than they do where they reside, and that goes as much as 55% for these residents of states which have proposed or handed anti-LGBTQ laws.”

Most non-LGBT avid gamers do not thoughts trans characters

The survey additionally contradicts sure narratives we see in on-line areas. It is simple to see somebody yelling about pronouns in Starfield and consider that LGBTQ+ inclusion is a hot-button subject, irrespective of how innocuous that inclusion truly is. GLAAD’s examine, although, discovered that simply 30% of non-LGBTQ+ gamers could be much less probably to purchase a game with a transgender foremost character in it. That was decreased by 10% in video games with a customisable character where transgender illustration is an choice—suppose Baldur’s Gate 3 or Cyberpunk 2077. The vast majority of individuals genuinely do not care.

(Picture credit score: GLAAD Gaming Report (2024))

I’ve spoken fairly extremely of the examine to date—and I nonetheless suppose it is a captivating landmark. Nonetheless, there are some later factors that I am not so positive about. For instance, GLAAD’s examine cites that it recognized “video games on the most important PC and console distribution platforms which can be publicly tagged or listed as having LGBTQ content material” to ascertain “a baseline towards which future trade efforts might be measured.”

The examine states: “These video games account for lower than 2% of Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo’s complete digital libraries. For Steam, it’s lower than 2.5%, however drops to only 1.7% when adult-only video games are excluded.” Nonetheless—at the least from my private observations—video games on Steam are sometimes solely tagged as being “LGBTQ+” when queerness types an necessary a part of the narrative.

Whereas I do not suppose the comparability is unfair—and queer rep in video games actually has room to enhance—I do suppose the report neglects to say how very important with the ability to inhabit a customized LGBTQ+ character is for lots of queer gamers.

Baldur’s Gate 3, for instance, means that you can have a homosexual romance with any one in all its characters, choose non-binary pronouns, and play as a trans character (each pronouns and genitalia should not locked to your character’s physique kind). Except I’ve misunderstood, below GLAAD’s definition Baldur’s Gate 3 is not a game that “has LGBTQ content material”—which does not strike me as completely honest. 

Whereas there’s a dialogue available there about whether or not a ‘playersexual’ companion nonetheless counts as illustration, Astarion is interested in the identical gender as a baseline, having dated, slept with, and probably even beloved males explicitly in his backstory.

No matter my very own private nitpicks, the survey itself marks not solely an important step ahead however a helpful useful resource to assist us contextualise what’s truly occurring within the trade—I would moderately wrestle with knowledge moderately than controversies and drained speaking factors, and I am eager to see what conversations come up because of this.