This past weekend I was lucky enough to attend Australia’s inaugural GaymerX convention on behalf of The Winning Agenda. It was, overall, a fantastic and unique experience that I hope everyone will have an opportunity to enjoy. Where PAX is a Jagerbomb-fueled night of clubbing and excitement, GX is sipping whiskey at the smooth jazz bar. Very chic and quiet enough to chat with the supremely cool guests.
Highlights included the “Bisexual Representation and Beyond…” panel encouraging me to put more thought towards both bi- and asexual representation, watching Snow McNally write a Twine game about dating a dragon (mostly), as well as the plethora of quality indie games on display (so hyped for One Night!).
What stuck with me most was not a panel or exhibitor, however, but a comment made by an attendee during the closing presentation. To paraphrase, this person talked about how they don’t usually attend conventions for fear of discrimination and they were extremely grateful to be in such a safe space. The sentiment was echoed by several others, each to an ovation from the crowd.
They were extremely grateful to be in such a safe space.
As someone born into privilege (a straight white cis male), it is abhorrently easy to forget that many of the activities we take for granted are gated behind fears and anxiety for some. I am reminded of a story told by Abby Cohen on episode 40 of The Winning Agenda, who describes sitting in her car outside of a local game store and being paralysed with anxiety. Her quest to play some games of Netrunner ended by one final hurdle.
That story ends positively, though, with Abby discovering a fantastic and welcoming group and becoming a strong proponent for getting more women into the hobby.
Ultimately, this has been a reminder for everyone to encourage safe spaces no matter where you go. Particularly to all my fellow event managers, tournament organisers and judges, we need to strive to be inclusive. Gaming is for everyone and we have a say in what is both acceptable and unacceptable practice. Doing so not only guarantees more people walking through the door, but creates strong bonds of appreciation with those who may struggle to find a place where they can be themselves.
Thank you to all the exhibitors, speakers, sponsors and most importantly the organisers at GaymerX Australia. I encourage everyone to start an ongoing conversation on the expansion of safe places in gaming so we can all enjoy a thriving and diverse community!
Image credit: GaymerX.com