Highlighting Pride in Esports and Gaming

This Article was contributed by Matthew Carrico, Editorial Intern.

As esports continues to evolve and push into new areas, many more people are taking an interest in the growing field as a gamer or someone wanting a career. Esports is often regarded as one of the most inclusive mediums there is in terms of openness yet some people still struggle to find a place. People like members of the LGBTQ+ community are striving to make themselves heard and are examples of this. Since we are in the middle of Pride Month, let’s take some time to look back and highlight the various groups and individuals who strive to make LGBTQ+ commonplace in the world of esports and gaming.

Looking at the higher end of the spectrum, many major gaming companies, AAA developers, and Indie teams are highlighting the LGBTQ+ community in various ways such as special deals, content, and events taking place. They have also pushed to bring LGBTQ+ representation into the realm of video games in varying ways. Popular games such as The Last of Us, Undertale, Stardew Valley, and Life is Strange contain elements and characters with attributes that make up part of the LGBTQ+ community. Sometimes the representation can be met with mixed criticism both from the community and outside groups. It is important to note that these elements in video games are but small steps in making the LGBTQ+ community more recognizable and relatable.

In the fight for equality in the medium, many groups and organizations have formed to help in this endeavor. The Queer Women of Esports are making major impacts with their ongoing LGBTQIA+ Spotlight Series on Twitch which is a collection of LGBTQ+ figures in both gaming and esports talking about representation between the gaming and LGBTQ+ community. They also plan to hold a special block party on June 26th.

GaymerX is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ+ people and culture in games. They have recently begun using their platforms to highlight various LGBTQ+ creators in games in their Spotlight series. They are also consistently updating their social media platforms with various stories, events, and people in regard to the community.

The BostonGaymers is a social group that specializes in finding ways to create safe gaming communities for members of the community and others to make new friends and feel welcomed. They previously held a special Pride Streamathon on June 11 via their Twitch channel in order to raise money towards the Transgender Emergency Fund of MA. The stream raised $5,500 in the end.

The esports organization Evil Geniuses has taken a step in the ring as well. They will highlight LGBTQ, trans, and non-binary esports personalities and industry workers by airing a special episode of their podcast LIVEPROUD on June 26. The podcast will bring together a variety of people and talk about the state of LGBTQ+ esports.

Perhaps one of the biggest groups to make a name for themselves in terms of LGBTQ+ representation are the*gameHERS. They are a women-led organization that has acquired a wide variety of partnerships with groups/organizations like Lenovo Esports, Evil Geniuses, Stay Plugged In (SPIN), and eFuse. They have partnered up with DePaul University in order to bring the first-ever women’s collegiate division in esports. This division not only looks to provide a safe online community for women but also appeals to non-binary and femme-identifying students with a desire to game or find a career in the video game/esports fields. The themes of leadership and inclusion are present when it comes to this new division.

With all of this support, LGBTQ+ pride month in gaming/esports is also seeing a variety of representation in many small ways as well. Itch.io is currently holding a special Queer Games Bundle which hosts a collection of 236 games all for the price of $60 which is comparable to AAA game prices. There is also a special TTRPG Charity Bundle put together by UK-based LGBTQ group Mermaids and US-based Transgender Law Center with the goal to raise $10000 in support for the community.

Steam, the largest PC video game storefront, is also getting in the mix with a special month-long deal on various LGBTQ+ games. 

The development studio DONTNOD is currently making one of their games completely free for pride month. Tell Me Why is an episodic adventure game that has garnered positive reception for its handling in regards to sensitive transgender topics. The game is available on Xbox One and Microsoft Windows.

Many popular battle royale games are also looking to spread the message in their own ways. Apex Legends recently released a special Pride badge to all players in light of pride month. Velan Studios’ Knockout City released a set of 21 player icons decorated with various pride flags for free and courtesy of their LGBTQ+ developers. 

Riot Games is also bringing representation to Valorant and League of Legends. Valorant players can obtain LGBTQ+-themed cards with a free download. League of Legends players can get Rainbow Poro icons for profile splash art.

Rocket League also released a new Rainbow “Love ISLV” wheels for players as well as creating a special music playlist that highlights various LGBTQ+ musicians like Lil Nas X, Big Freedia, and Kim Petras.

Dead by Daylight released a Pride Flag charm to decorate their team while simultaneously working alongside GaymerX to bring future LGBTQ+ content. 

Finally, Square Enix, known for games such as Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, showcased a new company mascot for pride month. They are currently holding a naming competition for the new face and all you have to do is respond to their Twitter post here. The mascot, in question, is meant to promote diversity and freedom.

This article means to serve as a little retrospective on the various impacts of the LGBTQ+ community this year. We are currently halfway through pride month and things continue to ramp up in the realm of video games and esports for the community. The fight for equality in this community and many others is still an ongoing one. What would you do to bring changes and make the LGBTQ+ community more represented?

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