Counting Queerness in Games: Trends in LGBTQ Digital Game Representation, 1985‒2005

Adrienne Shaw, Evan W. Lauteria, Hocheol Yang, Christopher J. Persaud, Alayna M. Cole

Abstract


This article provides quantitative analyses of trends in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) content in digital games released between 1985 and 2005, including 162 games and 283 instances of content. We contextualize these findings within the literature on LGBTQ media representation and emphasize the unique forms this content takes in games. We also demonstrate the importance of looking beyond the game text in isolation in coding sexual and gender identities. We explore the statistical association among variables, including the intersection of race and character role with LGBTQ identities, country of origin, and year of release. Moreover, we demonstrate trends in this representation over time. In addition, we discuss the limitations of quantitative analysis of game content, particularly for this sort of historical analysis. Still, we can point to interesting quantitative trends in LGBTQ representation, which offer important context for understanding what ideologies are being replicated in digital games.


Keywords


video games, digital games, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, LGBTQ, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, asexual, intersex, representation, race, character role, historical trends

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