Finnish gaming group We in Games has released a new blog post highlighting the experience of sexual minorities in the country’s gaming industry, following a survey held as part of the Better Games Together Initiative.
38% of 130 respondents identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community, while a further 13% answered maybe or not sure, while 48% identify as heterosexual and cisgendered. This number is somewhat higher than in other countries - a UKIE census held in 2022 found that 24% of professionals in the UK’s gaming industry identify as LGBTQIA+, while an IGDA survey held in 2021 found that 32% of respondents weren’t heterosexual, while 13% didn’t identify as cisgendered.
The report will be followed by further blog posts specifically discussing different aspects of the survey, including the experience of gender minorities.
In terms of tenure in the industry, the survey found no strong leanings towards one group. However, the proportion was slightly higher among students and those with 2-8 years of working history.
The survey’s results highlight the complexity of belonging or not belonging in the community, with some respondents speaking “very critically about their relationship with the LGBTQIA+ community”. Some of the problems cited were feeling left out or not feeling represented by members of the community, or else being stereotyped by coworkers.
“Building one’s understanding about certain groups of people cannot necessarily be done by following only some representatives for the LGBTQIA+ community,” the report says. “That is why it is important to meet, of course, other people firstly as individuals.”
The importance of acceptance
60% of straight and cisgendered respondents state that it’s not necessary for LGBTQIA+ colleagues to remain closeted, compared to just 6% who believed they should. In contrast, 52% of LGBTQIA+ respondents stated that it was dependent on circumstances, citing issues such as heteronormativity in the work space or the potential loss of opportunities. For example, those working closer to the player base were more likely to feel they were in a vulnerable position and as such felt less comfortable revealing their status.
Only 29% of LGBTQIA+ respondents felt remaining closeted was unnecessary, while 2% felt it was necessary to do so.
Despite a higher proportion of LGBTQIA+ individuals in the Finnish games industry, the report found that homophobia still exists within it. Those outside the community were generally more likely to report lower levels, with 23% reporting no issues at all, compared to 11% of LGBTQIA+ respondents and 12% who answered maybe or unsure. 6% of straight and cisgendered respondents saw fairly high levels of homophobia, compared to 11% of LGBTQIA+ respondents. However, no respondents in the survey reported an extreme level of homophobia. The report also highlights the fact that homophobic jokes or sayings are still occasionally used, despite a lack of harmful intent.
“We're encouraged by the results of the Better Games Together survey indicating more LGBTQIA+ members are feeling more welcomed and included in the game industry,” wrote Supercell on Linkedin. “Although we still have so much more work to do to increase representation and equality, together with Metacore, Rovio Entertainment Corporation, Next Games, A Netflix Game Studio, We in Games Finland, and Helsinki Pride we'll keep pushing for a more inclusive future where everyone is celebrated!"
We've previously written about the state of LGBTQIA+ representation in mobile gaming.