Well, it’s here and we can finally say it – “Happy Pride Month” peeps!
For Ritual Motion, inclusivity is paramount to what we do and we are proud to celebrate the LGBTQ+ members of our incredible community. We firmly believe in maintaining a truly democratic, equitable community composed of every type of gamer, with every level of ability, and for people of every orientation. Diversity and inclusion make all our communities stronger, more representative of the world around us, and give space for everyone to feel a sense of belonging and thrive in their environment.
We know the LGBTQ+ community is an integral part of the gaming community on the whole and has been since the beginning. However, while queer characters may have been present in games in some fashion for many years, their in-game representation and reception in the broader sphere have certainly not always been positive, and it’s important to know that history.
LGBTQ+ representation over the years
LGBTQ+ representation in gaming and the global gaming community has in large part mirrored LGBTQ+ representation in film and television (although, obviously, film and television have been around for much longer): A very small number of characters have appeared since the earliest days, but in those earliest days, they were always fringe characters, very much supporting players, and their portrayal was almost always derogatory. As the entertainment industries—and the world—have progressed, LGBTQ+ representation has progressed too. Now, it’s not at all uncommon to have one or multiple major supporting characters that are queer, and in some games (and films and TV shows), the LGBTQ+ lead has finally landed. But we’re still not where we should be.
Even as recent as June 2018, a trailer for The Last of Us: Part II, the sequel to a very popular series first, that featured its female lead, Ellie, kissing another female character caused an uproar—a celebratory one from those in the LGBTQ+ community, but an inflammatory one from those hostile to LGBTQ+ inclusion. This trailer came just before the October release of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, which reached huge-hit status because it allowed players to choose not only which gender they could play as, but also if they wanted to pursue a same-sex romance. And this only happened two years ago. In fact, the first game to feature a prominent LGBTQ+ storyline, Gone Home, was only in 2013. Leading characters aside, the queer sidekicks and other LGBTQ+ supporting characters that are portrayed are still quite often the villains, or their queerness is merely implied, meant to be somewhat hidden and hard to distinguish, and certainly not openly celebrated.
But while major developers have been slower to the punch, indie game companies have been filling in the gaps and have really delivered. Games like Gone Home from The Fullbright Company, Game Grumps’ Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator, and Anna Anthropy’s Dys4ia have pushed LGBTQ+ representation and queer relationships in gaming to the fore—and done it not just respectfully, but humanly and well. And thankfully, with the highly anticipated release of The Last of Us: Part II and Dontnod Entertainment’s upcoming Tell Me Why, featuring gaming’s first trans hero, these bigger games will bring a lot of attention to the importance of LGBTQ+ representation and participation in the gaming world.
Awards for representing well
At long last, the games and companies that do a good job with LGBTQ+ representation are also now recognized by GLAAD, a nonprofit advocacy group monitoring and fighting for better LGBTQ+ representation in media. Every year, the organization presents the GLAAD Media Awards for media that positively represents LBGTQ people, be it film, television, or journalism. But despite video gaming’s years-long massive media presence, the organization did not recognize any games until 2015, when it honored Dragon Age: Inquisition. Finally, in 2019, it included video games as a full award category for the very first time.
This doesn’t mean that the LGBTQ+ gaming experience is now all rainbows and sunshine—even though it should be. Harassment in multi-player games and online forums has been and continues to be an issue that the industry is working to combat. The Anti-Defamation League reported last year that 35 percent of LGBTQ+ players reported experiencing harassment based on their LGBTQ+ identity. The statistic is sobering, to say the least, and reminds us just how far we have to go to make it a fully safe environment for players of every orientation. Thankfully, there are some wonderful, safe forums and online communities created by and for queer gamers and allies, like Microsoft’s Gaming for Everyone LGBTQIA Community, Bungie’s LGBT Gamers forum, and the subreddit r/gaymers, among many others. We encourage gamers to join online communities that make them feel comfortable, heard, and empowered.
Icons at large
One way to become empowered and heard? Look to your icons—something the LGBTQ+ community has done for decades. And like the broader queer community outside it, the queer gaming community also has its icons. Characters like Lena “Tracer” Oxton from Overwatch, gender-fluid Flea from the 1995 classic Chrono Trigger, Mass Effect 3’s Kaidan Alenko, and of course, Ellie from The Last of Us have made their mark in the games themselves. And gamers like Dominique “Sonic Fox” McLean, of Dragonball Fighter Z and Mortal Kombat fame, and StarCraft II and Dota 2’s Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn, and eSports casters like League of Legends casters James “Stress” O’Leary and Indianna “Foskurinn” Black are leading the way in the field.
As the worldwide video gaming community continues to expand, Ritual Motion is here to continue to expand the support network and platform for LGBTQ+ gamers and representation. We want to keep seeing the voices of LGBTQ+ gamers, casters, streamers, and fans raised up, and we’re committed to doing our part and that’s why we recently announced the launch of ‘Playing for Pride’ gaming event with Stonewall Community Foundation.
Playing for Pride Tournament:
Taking place on the weekend of June 20./ 21. ‘Playing for Pride’ centers around a Super Smash Bros. tournament and LGBTQ+ content from our community. During the event, donations can be made to the Stonewall Community Foundation and their partner organizations to support the broader LGBTQ community.
And Pride wouldn’t be Pride without fabulous attire in every color you can imagine. So, Ritual Motion has launched two special edition Gaming Skins specifically for the event, with 15% of every sale of the special edition skins going to the Stonewall Community Foundation and their associated organizations. The Pride Gaming Skins come in two designs; Pride in Motion and Transform in Motion. They provide the support you need for a long weekend of play and in the colors you need for the celebration.
We hope you’ll join us for the tournament and show your support to our incredible community of LGBTQ gamers. Watch the event on our Twitch Channel.