IMAG1076
This past weekend marked the first year of GaymerX, previously Gaymercon: “the first LGBT gaming convention focused on the queer geek culture” (http://gaymerconnect.com/). The con took over Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco’s Japantown for the weekend. There were some great special guests as well as several really fun activities, including a room full of every kind of gaming console available for con-goers to play. Having recently come back from SDCC, I was still kind of in that mode. However, I was pleased to find out that I could just decide spontaneously to attend GaymerX and that I could register at the door. The full-schedule of panels was accessible to both the hardcore fans and the casually curious. The floor was populated with artists peddling their creations, giveaways and demos.

I had never been to a convention’s first year, and it was really interesting. The programming declared that the convention knew who it was, and the vibe was all welcoming community and excitement. The staff members and volunteers were impressively organized. If there were any snafus, I never noticed one. It was small, but I think that “intimate” is the more appropriate word. You’re not going to get the big Hollywood exclusives at a small con like GaymerX, but that’s not why it exists. It has a higher purpose: starting a dialogue and connecting members of a community. When I got back from SDCC, I stated that it was powerful to be around hundreds of thousands of people that I had at least one thing in common with. That feeling was amplified at GaymerX because despite, or perhaps because of its smaller population, the whole experience is tailored more specifically. In this case, it was tailored to queer gaming geeks and allies.

IMAG1070-1
I was impressed at the intellectual level of the programming (http://gaymerconnect.com/panels). There were lots of meaningful discussions about building online communities, gender and sexuality in games, and LGBTQ inclusiveness in gaming. There were also panels on cosplay, breaking into the industry, and of course: special guests. Notable guests included Ellen McLain (the voice of Glad0s in the Portal series), David Gaider (lead writer of the Dragon Age series), and Pandora Boxx (RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant). I was unable to go to Ellen McLain’s panel, but I heard she led the audience in a sing-a-long of the Portal song “Still Alive”. I was so excited to see Pandora Boxx in person, as I am a huge Drag Race fan. I was especially excited that she walked into her panel as drag Harley Quinn. She talked about her love of Batman: Arkham Asylum, Dragon Age, and Alice: The Madness Returns. There was some Q&A that led to Pandora doing an amazing impression of what it would be like to have Grace Jones play Storm from X-Men.

David Gaider spoke on navigating gender and sexuality in video game characters. Dragon Age 2 is notable for having every follower be a romance option for the player character regardless of gender and sexual orientation. Bioware is consciously expanding the world of video game heroes to more than just straight white men. Mr. Gaider discussed how some of those strides are still difficult, and some are surprisingly easy. With him at the “Meet Bioware” panel was Bioware community manager Jessica Merizan, who spoke about what Bioware is doing to create a more inclusive and welcoming gaming community. That Bioware is aware and doing anything at all to combat the vocal minority of ignorant haters on the internet is both hopeful and encouraging.

Having spent Saturday having meaningful conversation and amusing interactions, I am home now and incredibly inspired. I had only been aware of the Gaymer community, but now I feel a part of it. Not only do I want to find more niche conventions, but I look forward to attending GaymerX again next year. Hopefully it only gets bigger!

Jenn Marshall
@jennnmarshall
jennnmarshall.tumblr.com