How Dead By Daylight became a hit with LGBTQ+ gamers

Daniel Megarry

If you’ve ever watched a drag queen stream on Twitch, chances are they’ve probably been playing Dead By Daylight. And they’re not the only members of the LGBTQ+ community who love the game.

The multiplayer survival-horror game that pits a team of survivors against a brutal killer has become a certified hit among the LGBTQ+ community, with queer gamers around the world embodying their inner Laurie Strode or Ghostface when entering The Fog.

Even as someone who struggles to make it through a single match without getting absolutely terrified, I can see the appeal. Loads of my queer friends are obsessed with Dead By Daylight, including some who wouldn’t traditionally consider themselves to be ‘gamers’.

But why does this gruesome, heart-pounding game resonate so much with an LGBTQ+ audience?

A screenshot of a Killer in Dead By Daylight

I spoke to a few streamers about their passion for playing Dead By Daylight, and a love of horror was a common theme. It’s no secret that many LGBTQ+ people are drawn to horror – the genre has historically brimmed with queer subtext, from the homoeroticism of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 to the revenge fantasies in movies like Carrie and The Craft.

“Horror innately has LGBTQ+ themes,” says drag queen DEERE, the founder of Twitch collective Stream Queens.

“In popular media like film, we often have an initially weak-willed woman pushed to the brink by her often male oppressors, which forces her to undergo a change in which she takes her destiny into her own hands, and defiantly fights back.

“This concept of prevailing against adversity is inspiring to queer people. It gives us hope that we can overcome our own dire situations and that we can come out on the other side, maybe battered, but alive and free.”

Pictures of Dead By Daylight streamers Deere, ThatViolinChick, and HiDro

Popular streamer ThatViolinChick – a violin player and Dead By Daylight super fan – says she’s put almost 6,000 hours into the game over the course of five years. A big appeal for her is the community that the game has fostered.

“I love the game because it’s brought so much richness into my life,” she explains. “I’ve made friends, built a community on Twitch, participated in formal and informal events, and watched the game grow with each DLC.

“Plus there’s a rush that comes with taking a killer on a successful chase. The character stories are interesting, the dailies challenging, and you never know how each match is going to play out.”

ThatViolinChick also credits the diversity of playable characters in the game as a reason for its loyal following, which she calls a “breath of fresh air” in the gaming community.

In April 2022, it was revealed that survivor David King was Dead By Daylight’s first gay character. Since then, Behaviour Interactive has released a range of in-game Pride charms including the Trans Flag, the Bisexual Flag, the Nonbinary Flag, and the Asexual Flag.

The game has also inspired dedicated fandom in the same way that some of the world’s biggest franchises do, with many fans shipping characters in queer relationships, drawing fan art, and cosplaying as their favorite characters.

“Dead by Daylight is one of the very few games that really support and represent the LGBTQ+ community,” says HiDro, a horror content creator and Twitch streamer.

“They’re not afraid to showcase us whenever there is an opportunity to do so and give us many ways to feel represented within the game itself. Dead by Daylight makes us feel seen and heard, which is something that is rare within the gaming space.”

Alongside these in-game nods to the community, Behaviour Interactive hosts an annual live stream called Into The Rainbow that raises money for LGBTQ+ charities. This year’s event featured a host of streamers including negaoryx and RuPaul’s Drag Race star Trixie Mattel.

For Tara Brannigan, Head of Player Experience at Behaviour Interactive, it’s more important than ever to show support for queer fans.

“Our LGBTQ+ community and content creators have always been such a strong pillar of Dead by Daylight, and we want everyone to know that we appreciate those efforts and that we’re here to support y’all in turn,” she explains.

“The world is a scary place right now for many marginalized folks. In a time when many companies are pulling back on their efforts, it’s important to us that we stand with our community as friends and allies in The Fog.

“Having the full support of Behaviour to put on an annual celebration that proudly showcases brilliant LGBTQ+ creators while driving donations to give back to the community is something that makes me exceptionally proud.”

While Tara didn’t have any information to share when I asked if more queer characters would appear in Dead By Daylight in the future, she did assure me that “inclusive representation with a diverse range of characters remains a pillar of Dead by Daylight’s efforts”.

It’s not hard to see why Dead By Daylight resonates with the community. But beyond the logical explanations like representation, charity live streams, and the historical queer coding of horror, there’s another reason why Dead By Daylight has garnered such a huge LGBTQ+ following: It’s camp!

“You can load into a match as a sexy shirtless man, a cute girl wearing a neon wig, or even a Killer clown dressed as an elephant mascot,” jokes DEERE, making reference to the huge variety of colorful characters and costumes on offer in Dead By Daylight.

“It allows us to self-insert and express ourselves within the game to other players, immerse ourselves as our own fantasy and it makes all the difference.”

HiDro also points to the “extremely silly and funny moments” as a reason for loving the game. For ThatViolinChick, the game’s inclusion of Pride flags has provided some joyous moments alongside being important for representation.

“One of my favorite things about Pride 2023 has been finding the Killers we’re against and pointing out the Pride charms on their hooks,” she recalls.

After all, what’s more important than knowing that the Killer who’s about to sacrifice you to the Entity doesn’t just slay, but also slays?

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About The Author

Daniel graduated from university with a degree in Journalism and English Language, before spending five years at GAY TIMES covering LGBTQ+ news and entertainment. He then made the switch to video game journalism where he produces news, features, and guides for Pokemon, Fortnite, Nintendo, and PlayStation games. Daniel also has a passion for any games with queer representation.