GaymerX East 2017, the annual LGBTQ gaming convention, wrapped up recently. And amid this year’s engaging panels, colorful cosplayers and non-stop game demos, there was lots to see and enjoy. So we asked GaymerX’s organizers, co-collaborators and volunteers about their favorite parts of the weekend-long convention. (We’ve edited their responses for clarity and length.)
1. A marketplace to remember
The marketplace was incredibly well-rounded with a wide variety of cool products, ranging from t-shirts and old toys to beautiful art and handcrafted goodies! And every artist was friendly and great to talk to while browsing. The space as a whole felt nice and wide and nowhere in the con ever felt too crowded. It was great to strike up conversations and chill in general — the atmosphere was just right, I think.
— Ropnolc / Mario Loureiro dos Santos, vendor and MidBoss resident illustrator. (MidBoss is a video game and media production company founded by members of the GaymerX team.)
2. Using games as group therapy
As an attendee this year, I want to make a special citation on Raffy’s panel “Reclaiming my OoT: How Gaming Saved me from Compassion Fatigue” which I have to say was very different from any panel I’ve been to since I started attending game conventions.
They created a space that was very safe and considerate of the panelists and audience, which ultimately allowed both to be seen and heard without stigmatization. It was like a very large group therapy session in the best way possible.
— Anonymous, previous GaymerX staff member
3 & 4. Panels and demos that let every part of the gayming community shine
There were talks — like “Diversity Tools and Takeaways” and “Grey Wardens: Gaming, Aging and Building Community” — that jumped deep into how to make the industry better and more diverse without having to start at square one like the presenters do at most game conventions.
The indie expo space was also perfectly organized to give every game the same amount of space and attention so that no game felt outshined by any other, which I rarely see in this type of space.
— 2 Mello / Matthew Hopkins, musician, attendee and previous GaymerX Boss of Honor
5. Allies around every corner
I loved Tanya DePass’ leadership and push for diversity in panel submissions and QTPOC (queer and trans people of color) visibility. (DePass is the founder and director of I Need Diverse Games, a foundation dedicated to better diversification in all aspects of gaming.)
I loved the overwhelmingly positive energy and support from our volunteers who made this year feel more inclusive and energetic. I loved that the Microsoft Center and Mixer staff were respectful of our attendees and supportive to all whom they connected with this weekend. This isn’t as common as we would hope, and they should be acknowledged as the aspiring allies we need.
And I loved my panel (“Reclaiming my OoT: How Gaming Saved Me from Compassion Fatigue”) and the amazing response and feedback I’ve received about it.
— Raffy Regulus, volunteer coordinator
6. Being able to geek out with your peeps out
It felt so amazing to give the panel I did and have so many people enjoy it, seeing so many equally interested in the state of combat mechanics in games and working it all out with an amazing panel of gamedevs (game developers)
— Blaine Anderson, writer and friend of MidBoss
7. Cutting edge games on display
I loved the diverse retinue of indie, video and board games in the showroom. It seemed like there was an active, collaborative atmosphere, and the devs and creators were all incredibly helpful and eager to show their work.
— Blakely Winters, GaymerX production assistant
8. Opportunities for enjoy gaming with your hands, mind and body
The Ultimate Clap Back is a card game made by Mary Martha Ford-Dieng that had the whole con laughing their asses off all weekend — they were a great exhibitor and really made the most of it.
The New York Public Library was at one of the hallway tables and they had a great reading list of books by game developers as well as info for local events in New York City.
Also, the Oculus’ socks were the highest quality socks I’ve seen custom-branded before.
— Philip Jones, GaymerX Expo Hall Director
9. Amazing guest presenters throughout the conventions
Of course, I was excited to have (political writer and rap artist) Sammus there to speak. She’s such a brilliant mind and always has so much to share. What I hadn’t expected was for her to do a live performance in the middle of her keynote! That really floored me. As always, she came out raw and powerful with the feelings and it was a real sight.
Katherine Cross’ closing statements at the end of the show really moved me. The way she put together such an eloquent and inspiring call to arms really felt magical, and really gave me hope.
It was great to have Consentacle at the event. I think that any game that makes people have conversations throughout the weekend is a success. I think all the games at the expo did this too. It seemed like the games were really curated to all be interesting and unique. It was nice to see how much people were engaging with these games critically.
— Toni Rocca, President of GaymerX
10. The ever-changing gaymer community
My favorite part of GaymerX is continuing to see the community grow and change. We started the event now just about five years ago, and I think the needs of the queer gaming community — as well as the people who make it up, who show up — has also changed quite a bit. It’s a challenge, but a fun one, to continue to shift the con to fit the needs of the ever-changing audience of queer geeks.
— Matt Conn, Creator of GaymerX