Representation in Video Games Still Needs a lot of Work
When it comes to video games, we have been making great strides in representation. Nowadays, there are a number of games that include PoC and LGBTQ representation, such as TellTale’s The Walking Dead, Overwatch, Life is Strange, and The Last of Us: Part 2.
That being said, for every game that features a good representation of PoC or LGBTQ+ characters, there are even more games that get it horrifically wrong. One example would be Mass Effect: Andromeda. In this game, the transwoman NPC (who is also a WoC) just straight up TELLS you that she is trans. For no reason whatsoever. This is something that irked the trans community as they tend to try to hide being trans as a way of protecting themselves against unwarranted attacks. So having a character just tell you out of the blue that they are trans is just unrealistic.
Representation in games is not really growing by much
According to a 2019 report by Feminist Frequency, female protagonists in games are not on the rise. In fact, when it comes to adding a female protagonist in games, game developers would rather let you have a skin-swapped character that can either be male or female than to have a main female protagonist.
When it comes to LGBT characters in games, there is not much in terms of statistics at all. However, the number of games that include LGBTQ content in any form, from playable characters to random dialog, does seem to be increasing. Although a lot of this content is problematic, or homophobic.
In the 1990s, according to the LGBT Game Archive, there were 91 games for the entire decade that had any kind of LGBT content. In 2017 alone, there were 219. However, the simple inclusion of an LGBT character does not really mean much.
Tokenism is still an issue
One example is from Mass Effect Andromedia, as mentioned earlier. Having an LGBT character that only says they are LGBT in passing as a side character in order to make a game feel diverse is just lazy writing.In a post titled The Problem with Tokenism, Columnist Sadie Castro mentions that tokenism is still a huge issue in video games. Many developers are putting gay characters in their games that have no personality or role in the game other than the fact that they are a gay character.
As Sadie says in her column:
“It is not hard to create a gay character. However, making a character gay for the sole purpose of trying to be diverse without giving them a proper personality is not the right way to do it. It only tokenizes them.”
I am looking forward to games that will be coming out in the future, as since the younger generations are growing up more and more diverse, they will be far more likely to create more diverse games. This way, we should start seeing awesome LGBTQ representation, as well as WoC and more as the years go by.