Although the gaming industry has come a long way in terms of queer representation, there remain notable barriers throughout the industry, both in terms of employment and the final product.
Gayming Magazine is the only gaming outlet specifically devoted to the LGBTQ+ community, highlighting both the triumphs of the industry, and where it can improve. In part two of our interview with CEO and founder Robin Gray we spoke about LGBTQ+ representation, and how the industry can improve.
What do you think the biggest barriers are in terms of queer representation in gaming?
It comes off the back of what we were just talking about with that mission of authenticity, and I think the barrier to that is not having LGBTQ people in your company, and certainly not having them involved in the decision process. Although the UK industry has 20% or 21% LGBTQ employees, the same census went on to show that that percentage is a very sharp wedge when you look at it in terms of seniority. There's a lot of LGBTQ people working in entry level jobs in the industry, but very few when you get up towards the sort of top end of the industry. That's potentially one barrier.
I think you see good examples of games, made from very good companies, where they involve their staff, LGBT groups, or outside consultants,. You can always tell because you end up with a The Last of Us Part II as opposed to a Cyberpunk 2077. The barriers of not being in that room then contributes to queer burnout. There’s a lot of burnout in the games industry, but that is specifically higher for LGBTQ people, and even higher for trans people. It's not particularly rocket science, looking at some of the headlines that have come out recently to see why that burnout occurs.
Can you name some of the companies you think are doing things well?
Yeah, this is always difficult, because I always end up missing people and then people get pissed off. I will give a shout out to some of the organisations on both sides of the Atlantic. In the UK, we have OutMaking Games. In the US it's GGP, Gay Gaming Professionals. They both do solid representation work with their industries.
Companies like Xbox and PlayStation have done good work in the past and continue to do great work with their representation and with ERG groups. We've worked with a few in the past that are starting on their journey. People like Green Man Gaming spring to mind who, as a sort of middle company, don't necessarily have all that sort of corporate oversight. Some of the bigger companies would potentially get in the way of making those good decisions, they're actually able to be a bit more nimble and make really positive change by protecting some of the audiences on their platform.
There are hundreds of companies out there doing great work. Check out all the winners and the nominees from the last two years and see what's coming up this year with the Gayming Awards. Check out Gayming Magazine for regular examples of companies not doing well. Our homepage is quite full of negativity at the moment, which is unfortunate for the industry and it seems to get those peaks and troughs. But it's also good to see other companies that have had their troubles are starting to work through some of that. I mean, Ubisoft have done great work of late recently, in terms of kind of really resetting the clock a little bit on representation.
I think what falls out of those companies is kind of representative of those companies. I've always said that diverse companies make diverse games. And I think companies that work to ensure their diverse workforce are protected and looked after will make better games in the long run.
And who, specifically in the mobile space, do you think is doing really well?
it is an interesting question, because actually, of all the content that we write it's rare that we actually write anything about mobile games. I don't think that's through us being blindsided. It's because there are fewer examples of LGBTQ games on mobile platforms, and the predominantly LGBTQ games, particularly the authentic ones, are tucked away in the indie space.
I think that the beauty of LGBTQ Indies is that they can tell the real stories. They can tell the hardest stories that the bigger companies would shy away from, and how that then crosses over into the mobile game space.
There are some examples, obviously. There’s Dream Daddy out there, Stardew Valley's great. There are good examples of mobile game companies out there. But I think it was actually Pocket Gamer themselves in about 2018, that asked the question, Why aren't there more LGBTQ games on the App Store? And there are very good reasons for that, because I think it's very much focused on accessibility, and discoverability is difficult for LGBTQ games, particularly on an app store.
Can you give us any hints about what to expect at the 2023 Gayming Awards? For example, have you got any presenters announced?
Presenters and other entertainments will be announced in due course. What I can say is that this year, we are looking at expanding the broadcast a little bit. So in 2022 we rattled through them, we think we got through in about an hour and 15 minutes, with very few breaks. This time around, we've got some really interesting sponsors coming on board.
We have a great host on board who's very experienced in this space. But also we are going to be having a lot of video content as well and contributions from the wider industry as well. It's gonna be a good show.
Nominations are open. It's the most open we've had the awards. So eight of the 12 categories are open to public nominations until November the 11th. And people can go and nominate across those eight categories.
The Gayming Awards return for their third show and will make their Broadway debut on March 7, 2023