Why do video games hide LGBTQ characters?

p 1 90617597 video games claim inclusive representation so why do they hide lgbtq characters

When the builders of the new Harry Potter game, Hogwarts Legacy, introduced that it’s going to embrace transgender characters it appeared like a fantastic step in the direction of higher illustration in an business that has been lagging.

There are 2.5 billion gamers worldwide. The games they play can form the way in which they see and work together with the world and in addition how they deal with individuals. There’s a rising physique of research that reveals that for those who don’t see sure individuals within the media you work together with, games included, you begin to imagine that these individuals are one way or the other unimportant—this is named “symbolic annihilation.” So, the illustration of minority teams is essential, even when games happen in fantasy realms.

The choice by the Hogwarts Legacy builders has been interpreted by some as a possible olive department to these sad with Harry Potter creator J.Ok. Rowling for her views on sex and gender.


However not all illustration is equal. It has been reported that gamers will be capable of choose their character’s voice, dormitory (boy’s or woman’s), and physique sort. The look and sound of the participant’s character do not need to match what can be anticipated of a “male” or “feminine” character. Whereas makes an attempt to diversify gaming and enhance illustration needs to be counseled, this isn’t fairly together with transgender characters in a significant method that equates to correct illustration.

Elective illustration

In terms of the illustration of transgender individuals, the brand new Harry Potter sport depends on the participant to do the heavy lifting. Transgender characters are non-compulsory. This resonates with what sport designer Anna Anthropy calls “the gay button,” which is the concept that such representations might be turned on or off on the whim of the participant. By making such representations non-compulsory, moderately than the default, sport designers declare performative inclusive illustration whereas not doing the work required to create and normalized nuanced transgender characters.

Within the wider gaming panorama, there’s LGBTQ illustration in some games—nevertheless it is likely to be (and recurrently is) hidden. Typically that is behind a collection of non-compulsory dialogue decisions. For instance, in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, there’s a quick quest the place the participant is accompanied by a hunter. The participant can ask the hunter a collection of questions concerning the beast they’re monitoring. If the participant selects the right collection of questions, it’s revealed that the hunter is homosexual. This instance additionally speaks to a associated drawback: It’s often solely minor characters who’re LGBTQ.

If the participant blinks, presses the mistaken dialogue choice or doesn’t go on some elaborate goose chase, they are going to by no means see such representations. So, when the one method we are able to find out about a personality’s id is thru a collection of non-compulsory dialogue choices, this isn’t an enough illustration of those identities.

Illustration in gaming is getting better, games are not counting on stereotypical representations, and LGBTQ characters are gaining a higher presence. Nonetheless, there’s nonetheless an extended option to go. And, non-compulsory illustration isn’t a sufficiently significant change.

Backlash to LGBTQ characters

Selections to incorporate or exclude characters of a sure id fully rests on the event crew’s shoulders. Communication and digital media tutorial Andrea Braithwaite explored how gamers reacted to the inclusion of a lesbian character in World of Warcraft (probably the most profitable on-line video games). Her evaluation demonstrated an overwhelmingly unfavourable view of sexuality in on-line boards.

This was additionally the case in newer discussion board posts about World of Warcraft’s first transgender character (added in 2020). Pelagos is a personality who gamers can discuss to, although gamers will not be required to be taught that he’s transgender. The revelation that he’s transgender result in some vitriol in discussion board posts about him. Certainly, critiques of virtually any video sport with a LGBTQ character tends to yield related views towards such characters.


There could also be some hesitancy to include LGBTQ characters into video games because of the potential for on-line backlash. But when all video sport firms and writers proceed to shrink back from making such illustration express, the cycle will simply proceed. There’s, nevertheless, proof that extra individuals are starting to welcome the addition of LGBTQ characters. In the identical World of Warcraft dialogue boards, there have been loads of gamers who vehemently defended Pelagos and used the right pronouns for him.