What EA’s Gay Friendly Status Means for Their Games

EA Rainbow Logo

‘EA are the most gay friendly place to work in all of the games industry’, a bold statement? Absolutely. Is it one that can be backed up with real, actual, verifiable statistics? Again, yes. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), who like to keep tabs on companies doing good, non-discriminatory things to their employees and treating them like plain old human beings, no matter how they identify, have rated EA a 100 out of 100 for equality in the workplace. But what does the publisher’s gay friendly status mean for their games?

What Do The Stats Say?

As it turns out, the stats say quite a lot. According to HRC’s survey, their annual Corporate Equality Index, which is based on the internal policies of major U.S business, EA scored a 100, which is the highest score possible, and it just so happens that out of the 304 companies looked at, EA were the only one focussed solely on the games industry.

Perhaps it says more about their competition in the game publishing world (Activision, Ubisoft et. al) but EA are doing that much for their lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans* employees that they clearly deserved to be recognised for it. No matter what the picture from the outside is (a consumer poll dubbed EA the ‘Worst Company in America’), LGBT employees are protected against discrimination and, most importantly, as the HRC is wary of rights for all beautiful identities on the queer spectrum (although admittedly, HRC do have a bit of an issue themselves with trans* rights and representation of queer people of colour) it means that everyone who identifies as queer, whether that be gay, bisexual, pansexual or anything else, is looked after by internal EA policies.

Mass Effect 3 Pre-Order Screenshot 2

Is This A Surprise? Not So Much

EA being featured on HRC’s 100 list is about as much as a surprise as the release of another Call of Duty or headlines that obviously tout the ‘war’ between the PS4 and the Xbox One for views; EA have been doing equality very well for a very long time, not least of all in their games.

J Station X’s ethos of trying very hard to talk more about diverse games exists entirely due to the industry’s failure to be representative of women, queer folk and people of colour (though diversity on PS4 and Xbox One seems to be getting better) and while we’ll be publishing our stats on how those identifies fared this year, in the past, EA has always done very well, particularly when it comes to celebrating queer relationships.

The following is a list of games already released by EA that allow for queer relationships

  • The Sims (we shan’t list every Sims game and its title but there are 4 titles alone in the franchise that allowed you to be gay)
  • Dragon Age: Origins
  • Dragon Age 2
  • Mass Effect
  • Mass Effect 2
  • Mass Effect 3

Is that just three franchises? Yes, but they also happen to be some of the most highly rated, most well known franchise on EA’s giant roster and in the history of gaming, as well as being some of the few titles that present queer characters as both completely normal whilst not being token, in an effort to look inclusive (the choice of queer identity in each title, is of course up to the player).

Dragon Age 2 screenshot

EA and The Future of Their Gay Rights Plight

This year alone, EA took part in the Pride parades (a public celebration of queer identities, for those out of the loop) in the following cities: San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Orlando, Austin and Stockholm, making it well known that actually, when it comes to how EA feel about you, you’re just as welcome as any straight gamer or employee. Not only this but EA were the driving force behind Full Spectrum, a queer focussed convention that brought together the games industry’s top thinkers to talk about LGBT rights within gaming. And, lest we forget, EA were also (yes, there is more) the official sponsor of GaymerX, a consumer convention that celebrated queer characters, queer games and the queer gamers who play them, seeing the popular publisher sign up to have their name plastered all over the thing. Then there’s EA’s Diversity & Inclusion team which works to double down on what EA have already done for their queer workers, by somehow improving it (maybe they’re aiming for the first 120 out of 100 from HRC next year?) Now if that’s not a flagrant display of showing that you are all for the queer rights movement (keeping in mind that EA have been very vocal about their support of gay marriage) then I don’t know what is.

Also on the horizon are new editions to the aforementioned Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises, with Mass Effect 4 and Dragon Age 3 scheduled for release at some point next year (with ME4 potentially out in 2015), which EA have confirmed will continue to let you be whoever you want to be, i.e queer romances will be available just like they were in all of the games before.

As for other franchises? We can’t speak for whatever else EA have in the pipeline because frankly, not even with a few good polishes of our crystal ball do we know what unannounced projects they are working on. However, what we do know is that this clearly spells out a renewed commitment to featuring queer characters and relationships in future games, especially as a more diverse EA workforce could result in more diverse games and as Andre Chambers, head of Diversity & Inclusion at EA added in a blog post on the EA website, “[They are] very proud that EA has been named a ‘Best Place to Work’ by HRC again this year and that [their] organisation has been recognised for providing a workplace that is inclusive and where everyone feels welcome,” the future only seems to be getting queerer and more inclusive from here.

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  • val

    EA have a studio in Singapore where homosexuality is illegal. That surely should take at least 1 point off their 100 score. I understand they can’t change the laws in that country, but they shouldn’t be creating a studio at all in a country where their employees can be jailed for being gay. Even a homophobic American developer is more “gay friendly” than EA Singapore.

    • http://jstationx.com Jasmine Henry

      Hi Val,

      Thanks for the comment and honestly, I think it actually has the reverse effect. I can’t speak for the practices at EA’s Singaporean studio as I don’t work there, but if there are protections for LGBT employees within EA that they don’t have outside of the workplace, then surely that’s a good thing? Maybe that’s not the case and maybe EA adhere to Singaporean laws, but considering that they were rated so highly by the HRC, it seems unlikely.

      Jasmine, Head Editor of J Station X