The slogan for GaymerX is “everyone games.” That’s the message that the “queer side of gaming” wants to convey to everybody else who wonders why the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) gather each year at their own event. This community gathers to celebrate its own culture and to make a statement about inclusiveness in the video game industry.
This year’s three-day convention concludes today at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Santa Clara, Calif. Matt Conn, CEO of MidBoss and the co-organizer of GaymerX, considers the event to be a celebration of LGBTQ people who like to play or make video games.This year’s event had plenty of cosplayers dressed up as their favorite game characters. It also had serious topics, like a personal history talk by game narrative writer David Gaider, an openly gay developer who worked at BioWare on games such as Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II.
The event also drew tech and game companies such as Intel, Patreon, Oculus VR, Blizzard Entertainment, and Ubisoft to recruit LGBTQ developers. That says a lot about the legitimacy and relevancy of GaymerX and its community. GaymerX has a franchise event in Australia, and it will hold a GaymerX East event in New York as well. Conn said he was still deciding what sort of event to do in 2017. Meanwhile, his company, MidBoss, released its own cyberpunk adventure game R ead Only Memories on Steam, and the title is being released on the PlayStation 4 as 2064: Read Only Memories.
I had a deeper conversation about these topics with Conn during the first day of GaymerX.
Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.
Above: Intel recruited at the GaymerX event. Image Credit: Dean Takahashi
GamesBeat: Tell me how much the GaymerX event has grown?
Matt Conn:We’ve done four of these now. It was about 1,200 the first year. We had about 2,400 last year. This one is going to be around there, depending on how the numbers play out. We’ve been growing a little bit. Nothing crazy.
GamesBeat: It seems like it’s gaining more legitimacy, though.
Conn:Definitely. At first, when we announced it, a lot of people were just like, “Huh?” They didn’t understand why this was a thing. It’s hard to explain. It’s not something where everybody understands. You can’t really learn what it’s like to be queer. But for a lot of people, when they come here and see everyone having a great time, they understand a little better what the point is.
GamesBeat: It seems like there’s a lot of celebration here. People dressing up. It’s a lot different from any other conference.
Conn:It’s a place where, whether you want to be a character in a game that’s more queer, or a character that—maybe you’re a dude and you want to dress up as a woman. At other gaming conventions that might be weird. Here, cool, whatever you want to do. You can present however you want to present.
Video games are a very transhumanist thing, right? You get to be that person. A lot of gamers see themselves—their minds and their relation to their bodies are a little different. This is a chance for them to come and present how—a lot of people present how they feel they truly are. Maybe they’re in a conservative home or workplace and they can’t do this very often.