With members of the LGBTQ+ community making up around 20% of the workforce, a huge percentage of this community find their homes in the gaming industry. While, like in any industry, there are still issues surrounding the topic of sexuality in gaming (not even mentioning the inconsistent representation of the community in games) I have found that the industry tends to be more of an accepting one in general. As this blog’s co-writer suggested “Being outside of the ‘norm’ is more common in this space than it perhaps is in other lines of work.
As part of a relatively small and forward-thinking (is the bar really so low that ‘not being homophobic’ is classed as forward-thinking?) studio my sexuality has never been seen as an issue – or even really mentioned – in the office. Although this is how I like it, personally, I thought it was best to invite another queer voice to the conversation.
I sat down with one of my fellow gaming worker bees, ????to chat about their experience as a queer person in games.
Coming out your way
Although their current studio has a liberal view on the LGBTQ+ community, ????’s boss is a self-confessed boomer and doesn’t claim to fully understand queer issues. This being said, their boss says they are happy to help out in any way they can.
In ???? ‘s studio there are non-hetero, non-binary and trans team members and all have been welcomed as any other member of the company would be. During one colleague’s transition phase nothing was mentioned; other than in an email which was circulated by them saying their new name and new pronouns. Although the media would sometimes have you believe that a big song and dance to celebrate somebody’s new identity is the way to go, for this person, quiet acknowledgement of their wishes made them feel comfortable and helped prevent the ‘othering’ which can sometimes happen in these situations.
“My Colleagues have never tried to erase any part of who I am”
Although identifying under the ‘gay’ umbrella for a long time, lately ???? entered a hetero relationship which initially put quite a lot of strain on them mentally. They struggled to come to terms with their perception of themselves shifting; finally settling on the conclusion that they were attracted to their partner more for who they were as a person than for their sexuality.
Again, ????’s studio helped become a safe space for them, as their colleagues continued to include them in LGBTQ+ conversations and never tried to erase their queer identity just because they were in a hetero relationship.
Games as a safe space
Although there is still a long way to go in terms of inclusion in video games, I and many others in the queer space have found comfort in games which allow us to explore our sexuality – with different kinds of sexuality being portrayed more often and traditional ideas around gender being gently broken down.
Even with myself, coming a little later to the self-discovery game, I remember as a kid I would play the Sims 2 and the mere fact that characters in that game weren’t shoehorned into being straight made me feel something which I now look back and realise was a sort of vindication for my own mind.
To be Better…
During pride month there is likely to be a lot of clout-grabbing blogs (perhaps similar to this one) which talk about different facets of queer culture, but one community which is all too often overlooked is the asexual one.
Another member of the game industry, ???? who is navigating the world from an asexual viewpoint, explained to me that, although there is rarely anything overtly hateful in games towards asexual people, the fact that many games rely so heavily on relationships and never seem to discuss that we don’t always need one is, in itself, discriminatory.
???? went on to say that sometimes something as small as positive language or just one line of compassionate dialogue can go such a long way to make them feel seen. Using the example of The Outer Worlds ???? said that “Although it’s not in your face, maybe only ever implied within the game and confirmed by the writer later, it’s just wonderful to see a character I can relate to in things they say and do.”
As for a suggestion for anybody out there looking for a crash course on how to do LGBTQ+ representation well, the visual novel game Arcade Spirits highlights this excellently. For a few more games which lend their voice to the LGBTQ+ community then please take a look at this thread.