GLAAD releases report on LGBTQ inclusion in video games

Posted on February 14, 2024

GLAAD, the LGBTQ non-profit advocacy group, has released the 2024 GLAAD Gaming Report, tracking “the quantity, quality and diversity” of LGBTQ characters and storylines in video games released over the past year. The data was based from a survey of 1,452 active PC and console gamers in the USA between July and August of 2023.

According to the report, 17% of gamers are LGBTQ, which is an increase from 10% reported in a 2020 Nielsen study on the same subject. The report makes a case for greater LGBTQ inclusion in games, stating that 72% of LGBTQ gamers report that seeing characters with their gender identity and/or sexual orientation represented well makes them feel better about themselves, and that they are 1.4 times more likely to buy or play a game allowing them to play a character that matches their gender identity and/or sexual orientation.

68% of LGBTQ gamers wish there were more prominent LGBTQ storylines in games according to the GLAAD report, which is probably unsurprising. What may be surprising is that 21% of non-LGBTQ gamers also report wishing for this as well, indicating that a market desire for more diverse storytelling is by no means isolated to gamers wanting themselves to be better reflected in the games they play. 70% of LGBTQ gamers and 46% of non-LGBTQ gamers also report as being less likely to buy a game containing harmful tropes or stereotypes about the LGBTQ community.

Regarding the amount of LGBTQ representation in the gaming industry…well, it isn’t great. Regarding games with LGBTQ tags or prominently featuring LGBTQ characters, storylines or themes, there were 146 games available on the Xbox store, 90 games on the PlayStation Store, and 50 Nintendo’s Switch eShop. Things seem better on Steam with 2302 LGBTQ games in English, but it goes way down to 1506 when the “adult only sexual content” tag was filtered out, which isn’t an especially robust available selection for younger LGBTQ gamers. In all of these cases, this represents less than 2% of the total available game libraries on their respective storefronts.

The result in this lack of overall representation is an understandable lack of confidence in feeling considered by the gaming industry. Nearly double the percentage of LGBTQ gamers (29%) think the game industry does not think about people like them, compared to non-LGBTQ gamers (15%). Notably, nearly half of LGBTQ gamers feel more represented in indie games created by small companies compared to AAA games.

Regarding the findings of the report, GLAAD recommends that the gaming industry take a number of steps to improve representation. These include increasing the percentage of games with LGBTQ representation to match the percentage of gamers who are LGBTQ, consulting with and hiring more LGBTQ workers and media content experts, as well as taking responsibility for making gaming communities more inclusive. Despite the success of games like Baldur’s Gate 3 and Starfield, which are high-profile, big budget games from last year with prominent LGBTQ representation, it is evident a lot more work could be done to promote a more welcoming and representative industry.