There’s a common misconception that the typical stereotype for a ‘gamer’ is a straight white male, but we all know that the gaming community is as diverse as any other.
This year’s PAX Australia expo in Melbourne is hosting panels as well as creating a Diversity Space that not only lets LGBTIQ gaymers know they are not alone, but gives them their own place to relax and make new like-minded friends in.
“When I was first gaming and questioning my sexuality I didn’t know where to look and back in those days there wasn’t anywhere to look,” says PAX Australia’s Alice Clarke, who organised this year’s Diversity Lounge.
“We just wanted to create a space where everyone felt welcome. A space where everyone is included and to show off games that are for everyone and reflect more stories than just the straight white guy shooting people while trying to avenge his maimed or killed girlfriend/wife or daughter.”
Alice is not only a huge gaymer but a huge champion of diversity, and after having a chat with the organisers of PAX Australia she was only too happy to jump onboard and help bring the Diversity Lounge to life.
Recruiting her partner to help her organise things, they took a look at the Diversity Lounges at US-based PAX events as a place to start.
“We looked at what went right and what we thought we could change, as well as thinking about the kind of events we wanted to see at gaming conventions that would make us really excited,” Clarke tells Same Same.
“We put out the call to get community groups involved, seeing who wanted to have Meet-ups in the lounge and have community stalls, which developers wanted their games featured and what people wanted to see. From there we created events and got board games to make the space more than just a place to hang out.”
“We don’t want to be ‘diversity’ in name only,” explains Clarke. “We really want to make sure that there were events for the community that get people talking and made people feel less alone.
“For the longest time I felt like I was the only gay in the village, but once you make more friends you realise that the games community is just as diverse as the rest of the world. It’s just that sometime it can be a bit harder to find.”
PAX Aus is a huge weekend; Melbourne is the only place outside of the US to host PAX events. Last year PAX Australia sold out, bringing people from all over Australia to town. So this year the team behind PAX AUS have been working hard to make the event bigger and better.
“I realise that we have not been able to represent every sort of group that’s out there this year,” Clarke adds, “but we put the call out and I feel very comfortable with what we have created.
“We are open to more ideas to make next year’s Diversity Lounge even more inclusive, but this weekend we have events running almost all the time and anyone can come play no matter what your gender or sexual orientation. Men are welcome during Lesbian Card Game Happy Fun Time, anyone can come join in, we don’t mind if you have a dick, you just can’t be one!”
We can’t wait to check the space out on Friday, as well as see the ‘Queering Video Games: LGBT Representation And Why It Matters’ panel which features experienced queer developers spanning the entire industry taking an inside look at “gay games”, discussing LGBT content in mainstream titles, including how video games explore queer themes and stories, and the challenges of making games that represent the diversity of the people who play them.