GaymerX2. How Was The Show?
By Marcus Estrada
GaymerX was a convention born of crowdfunding. Thanks to Kickstarter, and many wonderful backers, this new gaming convention was able to take over San Francisco for a weekend in 2013. GaymerX2 also saw crowdfunding success but it was a bit bittersweet. Because of expenses and circumstances beyond the Kickstarter, 2014’s con would be the last year. I knew then I had to go or else I would end up regretting missing such an amazing event.
GaymerX2’s motto is “everyone games” and it’s a good one. The focus of the convention is toward LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) gamers and allies. Sometimes the question comes up as to why there needs to be a “gay convention” explicitly. Well, as odd as it may seem to straight folks, basically every other convention panders directly to a straight male mindset with “booth babes”, cars, and guns – all things stereotypically tied with them. Now, I’ve gone to E3 as well as a litany of other conventions so it was very easy to see that GaymerX2 lived up to its expectations.
The atmosphere was very friendly and tension-free. The expo hall was more than happy to showcase artists with gay superhero comics, queer narratives, and bunches of other great content. The hall and artist alley were unfortunately quite small but there were at least a few things I picked up there. It seemed that more attention was given to showcasing a handful of curated indie games.
For many people, GaymerX2 was probably the first time they ever saw most (if not all) of these games. Perfect Woman, HUGPUNX, Hate Plus, Depression Quest, Extrasolar, Triad, and others were showcased and sometimes their developers were even there to talk about the games! Because of my tastes in indie games though I had already played (or at least seen) nearly everything on display. What was the one thing I’d not heard of before? It was a piece of interactive fiction titled Blue Lacuna by Aaron Reed. Still, it was a great way to showcase some excellent work from LGBT creators such as Merritt Kopas, Christine Love, and Anna Anthropy.
The big standout aspect of the convention to me was its collection of panels. I felt that the expo hall vibe was targeted toward gay men and expected talks about the gay experience in gaming alone. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to see far more intriguing conversations about the many facets of gender and sexuality and their less-than-stellar representations in games. Even though it is known as the “LGBT community” there are many people within it who are still very unaware of the other parts. For example, bisexuals are often ostracized for not fitting into either gay or lesbian camp. Then there are trans people who, may feel out of place since “trans” is not a sexuality at all!
With that said, I found myself soaking up as many panels as possible. They were simply too good to pass up and brought very important discussions to the forefront. For example, even though there’s a push toward allowing gay romance in games where does that leave people who are asexual or fall somewhere along the ace spectrum? Is this something that should also be addressed – and how? Conversations posed asked how much customization in games we really need and if it is actually a good thing to focus on. After all, players then simply squeeze into their comfort zone and may never experience the story from an alternate perspective. These were just a few of the really important conversations taking place.
More than anything I wish that the convention had been larger so that more people could have experienced it. Videos of the panels will be uploaded, but that alone can’t replicate the fun of actually being there. Hopefully more conventions will learn from the precedent that GaymerX set and become better, inclusive events in the future.
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/marcus.jpg” ]Marcus is a fellow with a love for video games, horror, and Japanese food. When he’s not writing about games for a multitude of sites, he’s usually still playing one. One day when he became fed up with the way sites would ignore niche titles he decided to start his own site by the name of Pixel Pacas. Writing about video games is something he hopes to continue doing for many years to come. Some of Marcus’s favorite games include Silent Hill 2, Killer7, and The Sims. [/author]