A Cross-Game Look at Transgender Representation in Video Games

  • Hibby Thach Temple University


Despite a history of tracking, analyzing, and discussing transgender representation in media, research on video games is often left out. In this project, I analyzed 63 games released from 1988–2019, and documented on the LGBTQ Game Archive as having transgender characters. A content survey revealed four overarching trends in how video games represent transgender characters (i.e., dysphoria/physical transition, mentally ill killers, trans shock/reveal, and ambiguity). I also demonstrated how transgender representation in video games manifests in similar ways to film and television. Three out of four trends in transgender representation have been repeatedly studied in media studies, but the fourth and largest trend, gender ambiguity, remains understudied. Research on transgender representation in video games mostly focuses on explicit representation. However, the findings show that despite the lack of explicit representations, transness is largely included in media in the form of gender ambiguity without explicitly being there.

June 2, 2021