Inclusivity and Representation in Video Games: Why it is so Important

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During the recent pandemic, the number of people accessing video games across the globe rose to well over 3 billion. That’s almost 40% of the global population! Although the figure dipped when lockdowns were consigned to history, there’s clear evidence gaming is rising in popularity again. In any case, long before anyone had heard of COVID-19, video gaming far outstripped any other type of leisure pursuit, with an overall market worth more than the music and movie industries combined.

One of the main reasons for this ongoing success is inclusivity. Gaming has prospered because there are no barriers to who can participate. Regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, social class, disabilities, or any of the other descriptors which have been used to categorize and then marginalize demographics in the past, anyone can grasp a computer console and enjoy the fun. Games screenwriters realise the importance of focusing on powerful representations of minorities, from strong female protagonists to plots driven by LGBT characters, and much more. Here, we’ll take a deeper dive into how video games are championing inclusivity and representation.

The power of representation

Many studies have demonstrated the extent to which video games can affirm positive traits among those choosing to play them. Part of the joy of playing is the way indulging in this passion can operate on so many different levels. On the one hand, there’s the thrill of trying to win (whether this is against the game itself, your partner or you’ve logged into a shared zone and are doing battle with any number of rivals). This adrenaline rush can become addictive, drawing players back to compete over and over again as they seek to rise through the different levels or attain the status of a champion.

Within these endeavours, one of the primary driving factors will be empathizing with the characters on screen. While gamers often love taking on the role of the villain, plotlines tend to be geared towards positivity and inclusion. So, the main protagonists might be underdogs or representatives of minority demographics, giving the story an additional dynamic. Triumphing over adversity is a potent motivation for anyone choosing to take part in any video game.

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Latest trends in society, dating, and social media

Games designers might dream up all sorts of fantastical scenarios, but the key to the success of individual titles isn’t down to how imaginative or creative these are. It’s down to how well these themes intertwine with situations the competitors can identify with. When it comes to portraying empathetic leading characters, there might even be some scrutiny of parallel storytelling, such as movie screenwriting, or especially digital matchmaking.

The latter of these can generate vast audiences in their own right, and there’s often a link between societal trends across dating and social media. For instance, bi singles who might be eager to plan a bisexual hookup can go online and register with vibrant virtual platforms offering tools to help them connect with kindred spirits. Here, there are clear similarities with the increasing inclusivity within titles right across the gaming industry. There are exciting hookup platforms satisfying the demand of the LGBT community.

Reflecting real-world diversity

Gaming doesn’t exist in a bubble. Video games reflect the world around the participants, and now include a rich seam of characters of all abilities, physical and cognitive. For any gaming franchise wishing to appeal to a wide audience, nobody can ever feel alienated or excluded.

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There has been a long history of powerful females in games, from Lara Croft through to Jill in Resident Evil, and an endless list of similarly potent characters. In more recent years, LGBT-oriented storylines have widened the net for gaming as a platform for empowerment. A host of titles include queer and trans protagonists and portray these individuals enjoying passionate relationships. Gamers identifying as LGBT can feel at home in this multiverse, and not only can they become immersed in roles where the protagonists are out, and proud, when they reach the ‘game over’ screen, they can take this sense of empowerment with them wherever they go!

Games promoting inclusivity and equality

Finally, no essay about inclusivity and representation in video games would be complete without drilling down to highlight some of the stars of this spirited genre.

The Last of Us Part II

Here, there are trans and queer protagonists. The third episode of the TV adaptation focused on a strong gay couple’s fight to survive in a dystopian world as a metaphor for the queer struggle in wider society. This romance gave real hope to the LGBT community. Ellie, the main character, a lesbian, is magnificently flawed – heroic and driven by revenge but also wracked by guilt when she transgresses the basic moralities so casually abandoned after the pandemic.

Horizon Zero Dawn and Forbidden West

Rogue robot locusts have destroyed American society. But this apocalyptic landscape is home to many strong females, including Aloy, Elisabet and GAIA (an attractive AI). The outright LGBT characters underline this as a marvellous model of inclusivity.

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Cyberpunk 2077

Gang violence seems endemic in this futuristic nightmare, but the good news is Night City is home to many non-binary, bisexual and trans-identifying characters. Gamers even get to choose pronouns, which will then impact the screen voices. What better way for LGBT gamers to feel included than their existence being a fundamental aspect of the design?!

Life is Strange

When it was launched, Life is Stange set out to revolutionize story-based choices for players and include a cross-section of previously underrepresented characters. Played from a third-person POV, gamers can truly immerse themselves in the queer, bisexual and lesbian storylines.

Final Fantasy XVI

This game is notable for taking combat to exhilarating new heights, giving players a real white-knuckle ride with fast-paced melees unfolding in real time. Two of the main characters are gay lovers, Deon, and imperial commander, Sir Terrance, giving a bold emphasis to a queer and inclusive storyline.

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FinalBoss
FinalBoss
With a joystick in one hand and a movie ticket in the other, FinalBoss is the geeky buddy you want by your side. Diving into the latest games, exploring cutting-edge tech, and riding the cinematic rollercoaster, FinalBoss embodies the quintessential tech-savvy gamer and cinema enthusiast. As your go-to guide for all things geek, FinalBoss is here to share the fun, the thrills, and the awe of the virtual and cinematic realms.

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