Sexuality in the Video Games Industry

A total of 387 participants completed the 2019 Survey of Program Graduates. These individuals identified themselves as having completed or being in the process of completing a video-game-based program at a post-secondary institution. The participants included both undergraduate and graduate students.

Approximately 20% of respondents identified as LGBTQ+. When compared with data gathered in large nationwide surveys, this is significantly higher than the national average of approximately 4% to 5% for LGBTQ+ individuals in the United States.

“Being gay in the industry has shifted my career towards smaller studios and indie developers. Any time I’ve applied to larger companies, the ‘bro’ nature of them has defined, for me, ‘bad culture fit.’” – Game Designer

The high percentage of LGBTQ+ respondents in comparison with the general US population should not be dismissed as a statistical anomaly. Other studies that examine the sexual orientation and gender identity of individuals in the games industry have found similar distributions. The IGDA Developer Satisfaction Survey for 2017 Summary Report indicated that 25% of those who responded to their survey identified as LGBTQ+. Previous years of IGDA reports describe similar percentages. It is possible that there are factors at play that attract LGBTQ+ individuals to the video games industry.

Methodological circumstances may also explain the difference. For example, the percentage of those who identify as LGBTQ+ is consistently higher among young people, which would align with the younger nature of our sample. Furthermore, our survey guaranteed the anonymity of the respondents. Surveys where such assurances are put in place tend to have higher rates of people identifying as LGBTQ+. As part of the same question, we gave respondents who did not identify as LGBTQ+ the opportunity to indicate that they were an LGBTQ+ ally. Approximately 20% of respondents chose this option. Another 6% of respondents preferred not to answer.