Being part of community gives us a sense of belonging. Giving us space to support and encourage each other’s growth often based on mutually enjoyed activities.
Many LGBTQ+ individuals have experienced difficulty finding community where they feel welcomed and excepted. Gaymer, a blend of the words “gay” and “gamer,” is an umbrella term for people in video gaming who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer within the community.
“A community can be anything from a physical place where geographically people connect, or via a virtual space such as social media groups or private community platforms,” says wellbeingpeople.com. “Communities bring like-minded people together with similar characteristics and common interests.”
The video game industry was booming in the 2000s with the release of the PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, and Microsoft Xbox, but gaming competitions and award shows were made up mainly of straight men. Even meeting a female gamer was still not the norm. Gay characters in video games often hit several gay stereotypes at once or were considered the comic relief of a series. Videos games could be a world for LGBTQ+ individuals to escape to but seeing themselves in a world they loved was uncommon.
But that is no longer the case as queer representation in video games has exploded in the last number of years and the gayming community is putting on more award shows, tournaments, and events. Game developers have included more LGBTQ+ characters in their games like Chloe from Life is Strange, Trevor Phillips from GTA V, Ellie from The Last of Us, and Birdetta from Mario Bros.
“Birdetta is honoured to be the first trans character in Nintendo history. The Super Mario Bros 2 instruction manual described her as a boy who thinks he’s a girl,” says ugami.com
Studies show that being a part of shared space, whether virtual or physical, helps people be inspired, joke, talk about frustrations, solve problems and celebrate achievements. Your strengths in an area may be someone else’s weakness and someone else’s strengths may help you in an area you are weak in.
“People who stay within a community are the ones that agree passionately with its values and with these shared beliefs, trust and togetherness, there’s no limit to what they can do for their community. Bringing together like-minded people who are headed for the same goal undoubtedly, nurtures a rewarding and engaging community,” says wellbeingpeople.com.
It’s not to say that the video game world is free of all bigotry and homophobia. Homophobic slurs have been common insults during online matches of Call of Duty and many other games since online gaming picked up in the early 2000s. But with North America and other parts of the world celebrating the success of things such as Ru Paul’s Drag Race, more LGBTQ+ movie stars and performers, and other pop culture, the community has seen a shift.
Playing video games with fellow gaymers can also help you destress in a safe place if there are a lot of stressors in your life out of your control.
“For many people, the world of video games is a perfect break from a reality filled with deadlines, stress and responsibilities,” said an article rcg.org. “Computer and video games are often used to help people focus on something other than life’s daunting problems. For a few fleeting moments, the players ‘lose themselves’ in the games as they feel the bliss and release of being in control. They are in a virtual world that makes sense to them — a place where they can be whoever or whatever they choose, without worrying about how they look or act, and without having to deal with real-life problems.”
In a world where so many people struggle to fit in or feel accepted for who they are, join a community of people who share some of the same interests as you. One that can help you be a better person for yourself and others.