GLAAD reveals less than 2% of games feature LGBTQ+ representation

GLAAD has released its first-ever analysis of LGBTQIA+ representation in the video games industry.
A close up shot of Grace from Stray Gods. Her eyes are closed. Freddie is behind her, looking startled.

Advocacy group GLAAD has released its first ever report on LGBTQ+ representation in video games, revealing less than 2% of titles on the PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo game libraries feature LGBTQ+ content. On Steam, the number is 2.5% but drops to 1.7% when adult-only games with sexual content are excluded.

Per GLAAD, the statistic was revealed by analysis of every title available on the PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, and Steam stores, with only a handful of games included on each platform.

“According to Microsoft, there were 146 console games available in the Xbox store that had LGBTQ content,” GLAAD states. “PlayStation maintained a list that includes 90 games. The Nintendo Switch eShop listed 50 games with the tag LGBT. Steam’s LGBTQ+ tag returned 2302 games available in English (as of November 2023), but that number dropped to 1506 when games with ‘adult only sexual content’ were filtered out.”

While there are alternate platforms housing a larger array of LGBTQ+ stories, GLAAD chose to focus on public-facing storefronts that were available and commonly used by the mainstream gaming public, for a more accurate viewpoint.

Read: Stray Gods nominated in GLAAD Media Awards 2024

In its analysis, GLAAD also revealed the modern demographics of video game players, discovering around 17% of surveyed players were part of the LGBTQ+ community. As noted by GLAAD, LGBTQ+ players enjoyed games for the same length of time as non-LGBTQ+ players, and engaged with games in a similar manner.

That’s despite a lack of personal representation in the world of video games – and despite the potential impact that representation can have. Within its survey, GLAAD noted that 72% of LGBTQ+ gamers found meaningful representation to have a transformative effect on their wellbeing, making them happier.

There appears to be a disconnect in that regard, given the overall lack of representation of LGBTQ+ characters in games. To address the situation, GLAAD is calling for a range of changes in the modern games industry, encouraging developers to include more representation for diverse characters, and encouraging more diverse hiring practices.

“Encouraging acceptance will help make gaming culture less toxic, and, as we have found, gamers who feel more accepted and included in games spend more on games,” GLAAD said.

“Although being LGBTQ does not necessarily make one equipped to implement needed changes, more representation in leadership roles can improve working conditions as well as player experiences and in-game representation. Having LGBTQ people in positions of authority may allow them to see where more inclusive workplace, game content, and community management decisions can be made.”

You can view the full report from GLAAD on its website.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.