Gaymers spend more on video games than heterosexual players

The Last of Us Part II

Ellie (Ashley Johnson), left, and her girlfriend, Dina (Shannon Woodward), are two prominent queer characters in the acclaimed blockbuster game “The Last of Us Part II.” (Photo: Naughty Dog)

In a possible first-of-its-kind study, researchers have some data about the number of gay gamers in the U.S. and how they identify in the LGBT community.

The data comes from the 2018 U.S. Games 360 Report, which surveyed 2,000 self-reported gamers over the age of 13; 10% of them identified as LGBT.

The LGBT data wasn’t a part of the original report. It was released June 30, the last day of LGBTQ Pride Month. The data is more basic than comprehensive or in-depth. It just scratches the surface. A deep dive on LGBTQ gaymers would be worthy of study.

In the meantime, video game developers should think about how they market and create future games because gay players spend 8% more on gaming than heterosexual players, according to the Nielsen report.

Video games, queer players

Video games is a huge industry. In 2019, video games in the United States generated more than $35 billion in revenue, according to the Entertainment Software Association. That’s more revenue than music and movies combined.

In June, “The Last of Us Part II” was released and made history. From developer Naughty Dog, “The Last of Us Part II” is the most successful high budget video game with queer characters who are center stage in the narrative. It sold more than 4 million copies in just three days, Playstation said, making it one of the fastest-selling games in the company’s history.

Of the LGBT respondents in the Nielsen report, 40% identify as gay or lesbian, 50% identify as bisexual, and 10% identify as transgender or non-binary.

Unfortunately, gaymers are still targeted. One in three queer gamers face harassment in multiplayer games, according to a 2019 Anti-Defamation League report.

First gaymer survey

Studies on gaymers are rare. The Gay Gamer Survey is one of the earliest. It was conducted in 2006 by Jason Rockwood, a former University of Illinois student. More than 10,000 people from 35 countries answered the survey, which might be the first time the term “gaymers” was used.

The results of Rockwood’s census survey showed that many gaymers were harassed in online games — 83% of the more than 10,000 respondents said they had heard the words “gay” or “queer” used in derogatory ways.

Also, only 15% of respondents gamed with their boyfriend or girlfriend more than “occasionally.”

Rockwood’s survey and the results are viewable via Internet archives.

Here are the results from the Nielsen report.

How gaymers play

  • 77% of LGBT gaymers own consoles, and 29% own personal computers.
  • 51% prefer consoles to mobile, 31%, or PC 13%
  • For console players, the most popular systems are Playstation (38%), XBOX (22%), and Nintendo (19%)

What gaymers play 

  • LGBT gaymers are more likely to play simulation games compared to non-LGBT players, 26% vs 17% on consoles, 41% vs 25% on PC, and 40% vs 28% on mobile.

System preference

  • For PC players, role-playing games take the top spot. 
  • For console players, fighting games reign supreme. 
  • Mobile gaymers like two types best: simulation (40%) and role-playing (40%).

About the author

Richard Grant

Richard Grant is a reporter and photojournalist, but if he had to pick, he prefers shooting to writing. His Black Lives Matter protest photos in Long Beach have received global attention. Grant is also the proud dog dad of a beagle named Pepper, who happens to be the best dog in the world, better than yours.

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