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VERY PROBLEMATIC: Less Than 2% of Video Games Include LGBTQ Characters

NBC News - Under 2% of console video games include LGBTQ characters or storylines, despite the fact that 17% of gamers identify as queer, according to a new GLAAD survey.

Per the 2024 GLAAD Gaming Report, published Tuesday, one in five active gamers are LGBTQ.

“GLAAD’s finding that 17% of active gamers are LGBTQ, and the growth from 10% of active gamers being LGBTQ from Nielsen’s Games360 study in 2020, proves their tremendous influence on the gaming industry,” said Stacie de Armas, Nielsen’s senior vice president of diverse insights and initiatives. “The study shows that for LGBTQ gamers, a safe and inclusive environment goes beyond the game itself — with nearly 70% indicating they are less likely to buy from a studio with a history of mistreating LGBTQ workers.” 

Extremely troubling to say the least. You hate to see these types of stories. I thought we were better than this in 2024. I'd love to deny this claim, but just think the experiences you've had playing video games... 

Consider this. It's 10pm. You've consumed your first 30mg Adderall of the evening. One of the orange ones. You're hunkering down for an 8+ hour Fortnite session. You select a male avatar and parachute into the arena. At ANY point have you EVER seen your male Fortnite avatar have sex with man mid-round? Have you seen a loadout screen in ANY game EVER that gives you an option of selecting your character's sexual preference before you start shooting futuristic guns at other avatars controlled by racist teenagers? If you press a combination of Y & RT, does your avatar turn around, look at the screen, and declare to the camera, "I prefer dating member of the same sex."

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No? Interesting. Why do you think that is? Is it because in almost every game a character's sexuality has absolutely zero bearing on the story, and there's no reason whatsoever to declare it at all? Or is it because the creators are homophobic assholes? It's hard to say.

Or maybe I'm thinking about this all wrong. Who is conducting this study? Where is GLAAD getting this information from? Considering most games do not have any option or storyline that details a character's sexuality, and most games do not feature detailed storylines that lay out their sexual history, how are they determining which characters are straight, lesbian, gay, trans, bi-sexual, or queer? For example, who's to say anything about Ash Ketchum in Pokemon Blue? Just because he doesn't actively seek out male dating partners while in the midst of catching 'em all, does that automatically make him straight. Even if he does have a girlfriend at some point, that doesn't mean he isn't bi-sexual. We couldn't possibly know.

Openly gay ex-NBA player Jason Collins is a playable character in NBA 2K12. Are they counting NBA 2K!2 towards the 2%. What about the NFL? They don't know whether or not EVERY player in the NFL is straight. Not all NFL players have declared that publicly. Are they assuming all of their genders and sexuality? 

Just because a character may show interest in a member of the opposite sex, that doesn't necessarily mean he or she is straight. How could they possibly be obtaining this information without making a litany of assumptions themselves? 

But to be safe, I think games need to adapt. When playing Call of Duty, and you're selecting your character's weapons, all they need to do is add an additional option to choose their sexuality. It's not that hard. "Does my soldier who is about to embark on a 20-person kill streak prefer the company of men or women in their free time?" It's something we deserve to know.