Kate Rayner, who works at Canadian video game company The Coalition as the studio’s Technical Director, revealed to the world she is transgender.
Taking to Twitter, Rayner wrote, “So here it is” I am transgender. My gender identity is female. This may come as a big surprise, but I hope you can trust me in my identity and decision to come out. My family on all sides have been accepting and supportive, and for that I am so grateful. In spite of the challenges, you might expect from navigating this, I am happier, internally more at peace, fully present and optimistic in a way I have not been before.
“When I started my career in video game development over 20 years ago, it was a childhood passion for computer graphics and creating virtual worlds where you could be anything (or any gender) that sparked a lifelong passion for technology, software development and making interactive games. I still have that passion and am excited to continue in my role.”
In response to Rayner’s announcement, many at Microsoft have come forward to congratulate her, rallying behind her with support and love. One of those showing support for Rayner was Phil Spencer, the current Executive Vice-President Of Gaming at Microsoft and the current head of the Xbox Brand. Spencer congratulated Rayner by saying he was “so proud of [her] strength, and bravery to live authentically” and that he “was honoured to work alongside her and to be working on making gaming an industry where trans people are welcome and belong.”
Rayner’s news has also been celebrated by many others in the industry. An industry in which the topic of representation has been a hot topic for some time now.
Just last year, a boycott was called shortly after the release of the hotly anticipated game Cyberpunk 2077, when the transgender community highlighted the role-playing video game’s many flaws when it came to representation. Among many issues with the game, Cyberpunk 2077 determines an individual’s gender not by their “genitals, but rather by voice.” According to one review “only deep-voiced characters can be identified as male, while higher-pitched characters are identified as female, which purports the harmful idea that a person’s gender can be identified by certain traits.”
But despite these setbacks, positive steps forward are still being made. A number of recently released games have addressed the issue of representation head on. A great example of this is Tell Me Why, released by acclaimed French studio Dontnod in 2019, it was the first major game release to feature a transgender character in a lead role.
Microsoft as the publisher of Tell Me Why said at the time that they fully supported the games trans story with Joseph Staten, Creative Director on the Microsoft publishing team, saying “We’re really committed to the idea of gaming for everyone. We need to bring in diverse experiences. It’s been really important to do this right, to do it thoughtfully.”
Support for Rayner has also come from many other Microsoft employees including Marketing Manager Aaron Greenberg who said on Twitter he was “inspired by the courage and personal bravery that my co-worker and friend Kate has exhibited today. I hope that as a society & games industry we can support and stand with Kate and many others who have gone on this journey.”
Many now hope that the response to Rayner’s announcement is a sign that the gaming industry is indeed changing, and that there is in fact hope on the horizon for greater and better representation in games to still be released in the future.