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Microsoft and GLAAD partner to improve LGBTQ+ representation in Xbox games

Xbox rings in Pride Month 2023 with a "long-term" commitment to building out LGBTQ+ rep in its upcoming games.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

June 1, 2023

2 Min Read
Microsoft's themed Xbox logo for Pride Month 2023.

June is Pride month, and Microsoft says it'll be making an active effort to increase queer representation in video games. The console maker announced a "long-term partnership" with GLAAD that involves growing the number of queer characters in future first-party Xbox titles. 

What this means: Xbox Games Studios Publishing will be collaborating with the queer media advocacy organization and "amplifying existing resources through workshops and consulting to bring genuine, heartfelt, and aspirational LGBTQIA+ representation."

Though video games have been gradually grown the sheer number of queer characters over the years, especially in triple-A games, this marks a significant step up. Unlike its competitor PlayStation, which has The Last of Us and the Horizon series, Xbox doesn't have a flagship franchise headlined by queer characters.

On GLAAD's website, it appears the only game developer it's partnered with is League of Legends creator Riot Games. Microsoft currently stands as the only console maker to partner with the organization. It previously worked with GLAAD on DontNod's 2020 game, Tell Me Why, which was the first triple-A game to feature a trans lead. 

Xbox's marketing chief Pav Bhardwaj said allying with GLAAD would "bring more LGBTQIA+ stories, characters and lived experiences to Xbox in ways that will resonate with gamers around the world."

This partnership also includes Xbox's partner studios and "other developers in our community," which underlines the developer's commitment to queer audiences. 

What Microsoft's partnership with GLAAD means right now 

Bhardwaj notes in the Xbox Wire newsletter that Microsoft "recognize(s) the need and demand for more diverse stories, especially as many places become more hostile to transgender, non-binary and LGBTQIA+ communities."

Throughout the US, several states such as Texas and Florida have recently enacted laws that are actively hostile against LGBTQIA+ communities (and trans people in particular). In the case of Texas, these measures are especially devastating since it's said to have one of the country's largest trans communities

Bhardwaj acknowledged that the term "representation" can be "vast and multifaceted," and means different things to everyone. Speaking on behalf of Xbox, he said it meant "empowering our LGBTQIA+ team members to create the kinds of change they’re hoping to see in our games and in the industry at large."

Along with a commitment to increase queer rep in games going forward, Microsoft will highlight queer-specific game collections during the month of June. These collections will showcase games that have queer leads, are made by queer developers, or have gender-inclusive options. 

Players have the option to donate their Microsoft Rewards points to several LGBTQIA+ organizations, including Outright Intentional and the National Center for Transgender Equality. 

The full list of Pride content coming to Xbox for the month of June can be read here

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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