It’s Pride Month, and that means #brands are rolling out campaigns to support LGBTQ equality in society. Or at least be seen to. Some companies' efforts are nobler than others, and some go far beyond mere lip service and rainbow branding.
Among them, gaming peripherals company KontrolFreek and parent company SteelSeries have announced an initiative to raise funds and donate profits from Pride-themed merchandise sales to The Trevor Project, a suicide and crisis prevention organization for LGBTQ people.
LGBTQ support — According to the non-profit organization, more than 1.8 million LGBTQ young people in the U.S. seriously consider suicide, and at least one attempts suicide every 45 seconds. At the same time, The Trevor Project says that LGBTQ youth who reported having at least one LGBTQ affirming space were 35 percent less likely to attempt suicide. To that end, all the money donated by SteelSeries and KontrolFreek will be used to help provide free, 24/7 crisis counseling to LGBTQ youth who are struggling.
Among the initiatives the gaming companies will undertake are hosting live streams, giveaways, and promoting advocacy across their social channels to raise awareness of the need for inclusivity in gaming.
SteelSeries will match 100 percent of donations contributed during weekly livestreams (making it better than donating directly), as well as sell a limited-edition run of $29 Pride-themed speaker plates for its Arctis headsets, of which all profits will be donated (they already appear sold out, and it’s unclear if SteelSeries will restock the product). KontrolFreak says it will donate a portion of its online sales at the end of June.
The companies plan on hosting giveaways of Pride-themed gear on their social media accounts and promoting ways that their communities can contribute to The Trevor Project’s efforts.
Bullying in gaming — Bullying and harassment have long plagued the gaming community. Online games are often violent in nature and based on conflict (team-vs-team, player-vs-player), which creates an inherent tension. And some gamers might think it’s okay to send harassing messages to their opponents in an online game — it’s not real life, after all.
Compound anonymity on top of that and it’s not hard to see why cyberbullying is so common in online games. But hurtful comments made in games can have a compounding effect over time and research draws a clear link between cyberbullying and increased anxiety and depression in adolescent victims. LGBTQ participants experience significantly higher rates of cyberbullying in games than do other groups.
“Remember: Even just one person, one voice, one helping hand, or even a bit of extra love in someone's Twitch chat can make a dramatic difference,” SteelSeries and KontrolFreek said in a blog post. “From now throughout the end of June and beyond, let’s remember that love is the reason we’re here, and lift up the incredible voices throughout the LGBTQ+ community, whether you’re a battle royale gamer or a FPS enthusiast.”
Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo last year announced a set of new measures they will implement to promote safer online gaming, including systems for rehabilitating gamers who’ve been reported for misconduct.