Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Games: Gamers Want Less Toxicity in Games and Want Publishers to Take a Stance
In the past, game developers and publishers almost exclusively catered to men, often overlooking women, ethnic minorities, the LGBTQIA+ community, and people with disabilities.
While the market has come a long way since then, the games business still has challenges to overcome in terms of inclusion and representation. That’s why we recently launched our Gamer Sentiment Study on Diversity and Inclusion.
The study is already helping the biggest game publishers understand behavior, motivation, and sentiment, identify opportunities to make games more inclusive, and access motivations outside of gaming.
In this article, we’ll present some high-level findings from the study, which is based on a survey among over 4,000 gamers across the U.S and U.K.
Gamers Are Very Diverse in Terms of Gender, Ethnicity, Sexuality, and They Want More Representation
Gaming has flourished into the largest entertainment sector in the world, powered by 3 billion players who are as diverse as the world itself.
Our Gamer Sentiment Study highlights just how diverse gamers are in the U.S.:
- 46% are women
- 20% are Latinx, 15% are black, and 5% are Asian American
- 16% are LGBTQIA+
- 31% have a disability, with mental health being the most reported
As you can see in the image above, around half of respondents expressed that diversity, equity, and inclusion are important — a sentiment that was especially present among U.K.-based LGBTQIA+ respondents, ethnic minorities, and those with disabilities.
“Showing people that all communities are important is vital,’’ said one of the respondents, an LGBTQIA+ mixed-ethnicity individual with a mental health condition. ‘’Having characters with either physical or mental disabilities allows for the players to know that they are represented.”
In fact, when we asked respondents about their character customization preferences, the most common answer was that gamers prefer full character customization (40% in the U.S. and 32% in the U.K.). And most prefer characters that resemble them, especially in the United States.
Our respondents also wanted publishers to take more direct action and messaging.
Gamers Want Publishers to Take a Stance on Various Issues
Irrespective of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability status, gamers find it important that companies actively take a stance on certain issues.
It could be beneficial for companies to be especially transparent and vocal about issues like health and well-being, social causes, and company culture and work environments.
We asked respondents why they felt this way.
“I think these are elements of everyone’s lives and people would want to know if their beliefs align with the company,” said an LGBTQIA+ East Asian female respondent, age 21–25.
Another respondent echoed this sentiment, adding how influential gaming has become and that companies should do something about this:
“Video game companies have a lot of influence now and have an opportunity to shine a light on important topics that other people or businesses don’t.” — LGBTQIA+ female with a mental health condition, age 21–25.
Gamers Want to See Less Toxicity in Game Companies and Online Gaming Communities
Reporters like Jason Schreier, Rebekah Valentine, and Cecilia D’Anastasio have done an admirable job of shining the spotlight on toxic work cultures in the games industry. Gamers are clearly taking note:
“Recent headlines indicate that the industry has a negative reputation regarding health and well-being and culture/work environment. Companies should make concrete steps to improve the conditions for their personnel.” — Straight East Asian male, age 46–50.
“I think it’s important for companies to take good care of their employees, and give back to the communities in which they operate. I think the best ways to do so are strong company culture and support for social causes.” — Straight Caucasian male, age 31–35.
Sadly, these players — and many others we asked — also faced discrimination in the games themselves. In fact, a third of all respondents have not felt welcome in some communities.
Gamers in underrepresented groups feel especially unwelcome. Luckily, companies realize these issues and are hard at work on solutions. For example, League of Legends recently disabled some chat features to curb toxicity, while Twitch has added proactive filters to better detect hate speech.
Meanwhile, Xbox is taking accessibility in games to the next level. Thanks to its innovations in hardware (the Xbox Adaptive Controller) and robust options in first-party games like Forza Horizon 5, the company is democratizing gaming for everybody.
However, there is still much work to be done. If your company wants more data and insights on everything covered in this article, ask us about our Gamer Sentiment Study on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Games Market.
We also cover the following and more in greater detail:
- How diverse gamers really are
- The fact that more women are playing than ever before (and their tastes are often unique)
- The importance of accessibility and affordability
- Case studies on successful initiatives in games and communities
Before finishing, we wanted to shine the spotlight on a few amazing non-profit groups and companies that are striving the make the games market a better place:
- Extra Life
- Represent Me
- Spawn On Me with Kahlief Adams
- Women in Games
Supercharge Your Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts with Newzoo
All in all, the market has made some heartening steps forward over the past few years, but we’ve got a long way to go to make the games market as diverse, equitable, and inclusive as it should be. Publishers and developers: we can help, so let’s talk! Reach out to us here.