Interested in learning what’s next for the gaming industry? Join gaming executives to discuss emerging parts of the industry this October at GamesBeat Summit Next. Register today.
The Gayming Awards were born as a remote awards show for LGBTQ+ gaming during the pandemic. This year, it had a limited audience of 400 in-person and 320,000 watching online. But in 2023, the show is shooting to be a physical spectacle on Broadway in New York, as well as an online show.
The human behind this is Robin Gray, founder of Gayming Magazine, the world’s first LGBTQ+ online gaming publication. He started the magazine in 2019 and now the awards show is going to be in its third iteration on March 7, 2023.
The show celebrates LGBTQ+ video gaming comes to New York City, and nominations opened this week. Logitech For Creators and Streamlabs are backing the show. Gray said he hopes more companies will come forward as sponsors to show that representation matters.
“We are live on Broadway this time, hopping over the pond,” Gray said. “And we are joined by returning friends in the shape of Devolver Digital, Facebook gaming and Rocksteady studios, but also our new presenting partners Logitech for Creators and Streamlabs.”
Gray founded the show on notion that the quality of LGBTQ+ experiences in gaming were growing and that they needed more recognition.
Back in April, the 2022 Awards saw Life Is Strange: True Colors take home three awards while Unpacking and Resident Evil Village each took home an award. More than 320,000 people in 97 countries around the world watched the 2022 Awards while 400 people were in-house at London’s Troxy Theatre.
Because of COVID, the 2021 event was held online. And in 2022, the show had to limit the number of in-person guests. Hopefully, that won’t happen again, but Gray said it will always make sense to be more virtual.
The 2023 Awards will continue the hybrid approach with streaming on Twitch and IGN, as well as OTT broadcast. Fans can nominate and later vote on their favorite games in 12 categories. Nominations close on November 11.
“There are more sponsors coming online to talk about it,” Gray said.
Gray isn’t revealing the exact location just yet.
“But we are focusing very much on the broadcast side of things with livestreaming,” Gray said. “We’re aiming for half a million people this time watching. It’s driven by accessibility and the global reach of gaming.”
Besides Logitech For Creators and Streamlabs, other returning sponsors include Devolver Digital, Facebook Gaming, and Rocksteady Studios. Additional sponsors and supporters include Sumo Digital, the German Games Industry Association, GGP: Gay Gaming Professionals, and NYC Gaymers. The categories are the same, as Gray said, “We feel good about where gaming is now.”
The Gayming Awards 2023 categories are:
Gayming Icon Award – sponsored by Facebook Gaming
Gayming Magazine Readers’ Award – sponsored by Devolver Digital
LGBTQ Streamer of the Year Award – sponsored by Streamlabs
LGBTQ Streamer Rising Star Class of ’23 – sponsored by Logitech for Creators
Best LGBTQ Character Award – sponsored by Rocksteady Studios
Game of the Year Award
Best LGBTQ Indie Game Award
Authentic Representation Award
Industry Diversity Award
Best LGBTQ Contribution to Esports Award
Best LGBTQ Tabletop Game of the Year Award
Best LGBTQ Comic Book & Manga Moment Award
Gayming Magazine is the home of queer geek culture. Founded in 2019, it has become the leading LGBTQ+ website for all things video games, comics, anime, and general queer fandom.
Gray suspects that indie games are going to do well in the awards this year, as many triple-A titles pushed out to the future.
“We’ve always been a champion of indie games. And we’ve been very pleased in previous years that the indie games have made the shortlist for major categories, which is something we don’t know often see perhaps at other events, other award shows.”
The public voting part of the worlds will honor characters, access, and authentic representation.
“We’re going to be seeing games and nominees that are close to people’s hearts, perhaps by way of indies,” he said.
Gray said he was happy where representation of LGBTQ+ characters and lifestyles are in games, with titles such as Saints Row, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, and more. He views that as progress. In Life Is Strange: True Colors, the player could choose which character to fall in love with and so could explore LGBTQ+ relationships if they wanted, and that didn’t have all that much to do with the plot.
Gray also said he admired Tell Me Why, which explores the life of a trans character amid a larger mystery.
“I think Tell Me Why was an incredibly important thing, and while I do think that others hate using the word “normalized,” it normalized LGBTQ+ people and relationships as nothing bad has to happen because they exist,” Gray said.
We still see some bad examples out there too.
“I think the community is becoming savvier and savvier with what you have made authentically, meaning devs do consultation with organizations or groups that give advice,” Gray said. “We are maybe still seeing examples where people have done a queer character and maybe haven’t done the homework.”
Still, the mistakes today are different from the legacies where LGBTQ+ characteristics were heightened for comedic effect, Gray said. Rockstar, for instance, took out some transphobic elements when it did a recent Grand Theft Auto remaster.
“I think you can still be biting satirical games without the need to punch down,” he said.
Gray said he would like to know how many LGBTQ+ people are working in the industry. In 2019, the United Kingdom did a survey, but it hasn’t been done on a worldwide basis.