Rainbow washing is real, but the gaming industry looks like it’s finally warming up to Gaymers


With Pride 2019 drawing to a close, ‘rainbow washing‘ feels more prominent than ever this year. While re-branding to show support for the LGBTQ+ community isn’t inherently a bad thing, capitalizing on the ‘pink pound‘ under the guise of pride feels somewhat unethical.

That doesn’t mean all efforts have only paid lip-service to the LGBTQ+ community though. Notably, Nutaku and Stream have both pledged to make gaming more accessible, visible and accepting for the queer community.

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Nutaku’s Pride Campaign

Back in Dec 2018, Nutaku dedicated a whole section of its site to LGBTQ+ games, in a first of its kind for gaming platforms. It currently hosts around 40 queerly-themed games, with a few more added during June, including Cockville and Fap CEO: Men Stream.

Nutaku has now said it’s also putting $5 million toward funding more authentically queer games – by queer people for queer people – over the next three years.

“The new investment portfolio is born out of the flourishing number of adult gamers who identify with the LGBTQ+ community, empowering diversity within the adult gaming world. Resonating enthusiasm amongst gamers and game developers alike, Nutaku stimulates the creation of a space to build and support a diverse selection of high quality adult titles.”

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Julie Hall, Spokesperson for Nutaku

The company has additionally been hosting a “Pride Sale” for LGBTQ+ games and merch collection, running June 25 to July 2. All proceeds of this sale will be be donated to The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York.

Valve’s Saving Grace

Steam -owned gaming platform Valve, on the other hand, is starting on the back foot with LGBTQ+ gamers, following controversy brought to light by independent gaming developer Yitz in a Kotaku thread. In it, he accused Valve of hiding and removing non-approved custom-tags – specifically LGBTQ+ tags, making queerly-focused games much harder to find.

Now, Stream has launched its officially approved LGBTQ+ labelling category, alongside a dedicated hub page. The company says it has also increased discoverability for LGBTQ+ games.

While it doesn’t entirely make up for the previously lost tags, Steam is putting in some effort to make amends for future games that fit this genre.

A slow change

Queer gaming has always existed, just without proper recognition or acceptance.

Over the years, there has been much exclusion from mainstream gaming sites. Most infamously, back in 2006, World of Warcraft asked players to hide their sexuality for fear of others breaking the company’s sexual discrimination policy. Something we’d probably find quite shocking today amid all the rainbow flags. Yet, homophobia is something the Gayming community has been battling this whole time, and is only now getting recognition for.

Though we’ve come a long way since WoW in 2006, pride is still a political act. Gaymers who’ve demanded recognition may now actually find solace, and games, in these online spaces.

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Oli Lipski

Oli Lipski

Oli is a freelance sex tech researcher based in London. With an MA in Sexual Dissidence, researching sex tech, and a BA in History, researching gender and sexuality, she has a keen understanding of the past, present and future of sex.

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