Queerly Represent Me and the Underrepresented

Presented at GX Australia 2017. Can be found in video format here.

If you use a screen reader, go here to access a version of this article with full slide descriptions.

Please note: This talk was given prior to our trading name changing to Represent Me in 2020.

At GX Australia 2017, we hosted a panel with a couple of special guests so that we could discuss representations of queerness, and the queer identities that we have found are underrepresented in games. The presentation includes statistics based on the QRM spreadsheet database, as well as the Representations of Diversity in Games (2017) survey.

Our panel consisted of David Hollingworth (moderator), Alayna Cole (QRM founding director), Jess Zammit (QRM data analyst), Saf Wander (special guest), and Charlie Francis Cassidy (special guest).

Queerly Represent Me is a resource hub and research organisation. Once of our resources is the Queerly Represent Me database, which is available in both visual and spreadsheet formats for our varied audience. This database tracks all instances of queer sexualities, genders, and relationships in games, which allows us to track all sorts of things, like whether representation is increasing or which identities are underrepresented.

We categorise for a range of different queer identities, as well as where they appear in games (protagonist, NPCs, other references). Some identities are combined for the sake of categories being useful to both consumers and researchers who are accessing the site: we try to be specific enough that people can find someone like themselves or people they know, but also be broad enough that researchers can track trends. This table shows how many instances there are of games featuring these categories across our database (from 1981 to 2017 so far), which contained approximately 750 games at the time these statistics were documented.

The same statistics are listed below in number form so they can be used without transposing, if required.

Protagonist rep. NPC/s rep. Other rep.
Asexual / aromantic* 5 24 1
Bisexual / plurisexual 103 126 3
Cross-dressing 13 37 3
Gay 113 327 36
Intersex 0 1 0
Lesbian 171 281 7
Nonbinary / non-conforming* 71 84 5
Playersexual 111 100 1
Polyamory 20 6 1
Trans woman 28 47 7
Trans man 9 45 5
Other / uncategorizable 11 16 58

The coloured rows in the original table indicate those identities that are least represented. The purple rows refer to some of the sexualities, genders, and relationship types that our special guests identify with and were therefore able to speak about during our panel.

Prior to our panel, our special guests—Charlie and Saf—shared some examples of representations they could relate to so that we could populate these slides. The results were limited, but these examples offered a talking point for the pair on the day when discussing current representations of nonbinary genders and pronoun selection, polyamory, and asexuality. I will leave it to them to discuss what these representations mean to them in the video.

After discussing what is lacking in existing representation, our special guests told us more about what they would like to see in representations of these identities. See the video.

As part of our work, Queerly Represent Me conducted the Representations of Diversity in Games (2017) survey in February 2017 that was designed to examine how people feel about representation of diverse identities in games, as well as gaining a better understanding of what people think 'diversity' means. Although some of the respondents were trolls, and others were quite ignorant of what we mean when we refer to 'diversity' (indicating a desperate need for greater education), many of the respondents had positive thoughts to share, which we hoped to end our panel on:

After our panel concluded, we were asked a number of wonderful, thoughtful questions by the audience. These can be viewed on the panel video. If you have any questions about the content of this panel or the work that Queerly Represent Me does, feel free to contact us at hello@representme.charity