The 2014 Queerness and Games Conference in almost here!

Queerness and Games Conference 2014 poster

After an amazing event last October, the Queerness and Games Conference (QGCon) is back for 2014. QGCon runs from the evening of Friday, October 24 to the evening of Sunday, October 26. Registration is free and open to the public, and all sessions will take place in UC Berkeley’s beautiful South Hall. I couldn’t be more excited about this year’s line-up of speakers, talks, workshops, and games. The wonderful undergraduates from the Queerness and Games Design Workshop that I’ve been co-running over the last few months will be presenting as well, and I’m already very proud of what they’ve accomplished.

This year our keynote speakers and their talk titles are:
- Naomi Clark & Merritt Kopas, “Queerness and Beyond: Rethinking Human-Game Relations”
- Brenda Laurel, “Enabling Realities”
- Lisa Nakamura, “Racism, Sexism, and Social Justice Warriors in Video Games Culture”

Feel free to join us in Berkeley for as much or as little of the conference as you like. Thank you in advance to our generous volunteers and sponsors, without whom this unique opportunity for collaboration and queer visibility would not be possible. See you at QGCon 2014!

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Speaking up against sexual harassment at Burning Man

I’m proud to call Black Rock City my temporary home for one week each year. It’s an invaluable and often downright magical place where creativity and community flourish in inspirational ways. But just because Burning Man is a place of beauty doesn’t mean we can’t speak up against its uglier sides. Here is my feedback to the Burning Man organization about sexual harassment at this year’s Burn. I welcome others to use the following link to send their own feedback and help make Burning Man a welcoming space for people of all genders, bodies, and self-presentations.

“I have been a Burner for five years and I am a dedicated member of the BRC community. This year I was dismayed to witness and experience an increasing amount of sexual harassment on playa. While I know that sexual assault at Burning Man is already a recognized concern, the harassment I’m talking about is less clearcut and more pervasive. Female-bodied Burners, especially those camping in non-staff areas, know well that walking down the street in BRC means facing cat calls and other aggressive, sexualized behavior at all times: participants on bullhorns shouting, “Look at that ass!”; participants flicking floggers at women as they bike past; participants demanding “titties” in exchange for bacon. As BRC grows in size and new Burners fill the city, this unacceptable behavior snowballs. I believe the Org needs to step in with an official stance that makes it clear that sexual harassment, which leaves many Burners feeling unsafe in their own city, will not be tolerated at Burning Man.”

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How to promote inclusivity when playing video games in the classroom

This summer I’ve been knees-deep teaching an intensive course on race in video games. I’ve taught games plenty of times before as part of classes on digital cultures and/or new media, but this is my first shot at all-games-all-the-time. One of my main tenants for students is that we don’t just talk about video games, we play them. Interactivity is, for obvious reasons, crucial when it comes to understanding games. I want the class to experience that together.

Playing games as a group sounded great on paper, but the reality has been challenging. Most classrooms and/or university media labs don’t have the resources to support access to expensive mainstream titles. Meanwhile the balance between long play-through times and busy teaching schedules makes pedagogical decisions tough. A new 80+-hour game has just come out; it seems right on target. How long do I need to play it before I responsibly present it to the class?

I’m also learning the importance of setting ground rules that make the classroom a safe space for all students to feel comfortable playing. For me, it’s crucial that the group doesn’t replicate the dynamics of sexism and one-upmanship so ingrained in gamer culture. This is especially important, and especially tricky, because any given bunch of undergraduates will likely include players with considerably different levels of experience and considerably different social backgrounds.

Here are the ground rules I’ve learned to set before the group plays a game together (students take timed turns on one-player games):

1. Watch carefully and think critically even when you’re not playing.
2. Never tell another player what to do or offer “help” unless they directly ask.
3. Be patient with yourself and others.
4. Don’t skip cut scenes or text boxes. Do feel free to explore.

And here’s one more ground rule I wish I’d set at the very beginning of the semester:

5. This is a class about viewing media critically. It is not about performing extensive outside gamer knowledge. References are fine, but our focus is the material at hand.

These ground rules help promote inclusivity by taking the wind out of competition and pressure. They encourage the group to watch with intellectual engagement and mutual support. Most of all, they make it clear that those who “do well” at the games we play or can list off obscure game facts are valued no more and no less than those who are still learning their way around the medium. We are experiencing video games, and experiencing them together.

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O’Keeffee exhibit at the de Young keeps things suspiciously sexless

“Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George,” the big temporary exhibit currently at San Francisco’s de Young museum, is now in its final weeks. I’m not normally a huge O’Keeffe fan — I prefer my art with less optimistic exuberance and more explicit sexual politics — but I have the requisite feminist admiration for her work. I visited the show this weekend with guests from out of town and was surprised by what I found. “Modern Nature” focuses on O’Keeffe’s earlier years, in particular her summers spent at Lake George with Alfred Stiegletz. More than anything it emphasizes how the beauty of lake and its surrounds made its way into her watery landscapes and vibrant floral images. By way of informational text, the paintings on display were accompanied primarily by quotes from O’Keeffe about the loveliness of her placid surroundings and little interpretive commentary. Visitors of all ages drifted through the space with faint smiles. In the gift shop, umbrellas featured O’Keeffe’s purple blooms. It was all exceedingly pleasant.

o-OKEEFFE-900When it comes to the narratives we tell through art, I’m highly suspicious of pleasantness; it rarely tells the whole story. In this case I was amazed that the exhibit managed, with one brief and telling exception, to avoid all mention of the body. In both popular culture and gender-oriented art history, O’Keeffe’s work is most frequently (and perhaps most dismissively) referred to as being about, well, vaginas. Sometimes you hear about how her work empowers women through her bold, beautiful representation of the female form. Sometimes you hear about how her work speaks to same-sex desires: a woman gazing at the curving, folded flesh of a woman. Sometimes you hear O’Keeffe’s admirers complain about how her images are often reduced to genitalia jokes. And sometimes, as recently happened in my own art history classroom, you hear neoliberal post-feminists scoff at all that “lady part painting girl power.”

ART452947Meanwhile, “Modern Nature” sidesteps all of those debates by ignoring the body completely. It’s not to say that every O’Keeffe exhibit has to focus on her abstract interpretations of the human — but to pretend that the works on display had no relation to people felt like a deliberate gag order on the elephant in the room. For the most part the curators hushed up the issue by choosing images that appeared to most literally represent nature: paintings of trees, leaves, flowers (though we know an O’Keeffe flower is rarely just a flower). If I had to re-title the exhibit, I’d choose “Georgia O’Keeffe: Finally A Chance to Not Talk about Vaginas,” or maybe “Georgia O’Keeffe: An Exhibit You Can Bring Your Grandmother To.”

One set of images, however, broke conspicuously with the trend to ignore the body. It also managed to make it laughably clear that the body loomed large yet unspeakable in the otherwise notably sanitized exhibit. imagesThe first image (all three are from O’Keeffe’s Series 1, though they don’t represent the complete series), we see what looks a whitefish mound with two peaks, following by some abstracted greenery, and then the deep blue reflection of mountains overlooking a lake. The explanatory text, insightfully enough, pointed out that, while this painting seems abstract, it could in fact be depicting the artist’s own knees as she sits on a canoe on Lake George. In the second image that the curators selected from the series, the greenery and the lake have been pushed further to the edges of the frame by the white knee form, which has grown larger, more corporeal, and notably ass-like. Here the explanatory text offers us the exhibit’s only mention of the body. Of the knee-forms, the explanation admits euphemistically, “Their curves and folds, so unlike the artist’s own [slender] body, suggest possible associations with other elements of human anatomy.” Really? Then comes the third image. Now the white knee-shapes have morphed unmistakably into “other elements of the human anatomy” — specifically a rear end with raised legs, a flowering vulva, and an exposed pink anus.

Yet this third image (along with the fourth in the series, which reads as more “simply” vaginal) comes with no explanatory text. That is, after hinting at the bodily implications of these Lake George images, the exhibit falls silent. Out of embarrassment? Out of decorum? Given O’Keeffe’s prolific production during this period, why include this painting only to ignore it? Though each element of the exhibit has been carefully planned, it feels as if this one work, with its bold if abstracted exposure of the celebrated abject, has snuck in among the plants and landscapes to remind us that 1) the body is always at stake in O’Keeffe’s work, as it is in any work, and 2) that pretending that the story of her art can be told without the body can itself never amount to more than a suspiciously tight-lipped pleasantry.

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The wounded body as the terrorist body

A few months ago I was rushing around in a last-minute flurry to prepare for a trip, when I slipped on my basement stairs and sprained my ankle. It hurt, but with some icing and some Advil I was able to walk, and so I set off for the airport.

In the security line I asked for an “opt-out pat-down,” the code phrase for, “I think your backscatter machine is an invasive and unnecessary performance in the grand theater of national security.” When you opt for a pat down, a TSA agent of your gender (God help you if you’re gender queer) gruffly directs you to a table, grabs your luggage from the belt, and instructs you to spread your legs and raise your arms while he/she runs a pair of gloves along your crotch, ass, and waist band. If you’re unlucky, you’ll also get a few unprofessional and indignant remarks, such as: “Why are you making us do this? The machine isn’t even that dangerous.”

Each time, before starting the pat-down, you’ll also be asked: “Do you have any painful or sensitive areas?” Normally my answer is “no.” However, having just rolled my ankle, I said “yes,” pointed to where it hurt, and expected (naively) that the TSA agent would run her hands especially gently over my fresh wound. Instead, when she reached my ankle, she grabbed it tightly, rubbing it hard and scowling. In the 50 or so pat-downs I’ve received, never has a TSA agent handled a part of my body so roughly, insistently, and with such overt disdain and suspicion.

Needless to say, I felt angry — and I felt pain. When the agent went to run the gloves through the scanner that tests for explosive residue, I bent down to rub my sore ankle. “Don’t move!” she barked. My scan came up clean, she dismissed me with a wave of her hand, and I hobbled off.

I think about this incident often when I travel. I think about being lied to implicitly and misled, about how the question “Does anything hurt?” seems to communicate caring and respect for the bodies moving through the enormous parade of American security. I think about how, instead, that question was used as a litmus test to track down any area I might not want to be touched, any area where I might be concealing… who knows what. I think about how admitting that I felt pain meant that I was treated with less dignity and less compassion than someone who felt none (or did not admit to “weakness”). I think about how my injured body became a site of suspicion, how my wound made me a potential threat. And I think about what in the world I would do if I had chronic pain, or any number of other disabilities. Would my “sick” body be treated as a terrorist threat every time I tried to step onto a plane?

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Why ‘gamer cred’ is a fundamentally sexist concept

I’ve been making my living writing about video games, in some sense or another, for nearly a decade. And like many woman in the industry, I regularly confront my own compulsive need to assert my gamer cred. The fact is, people still assume that being female means you’re not on the inside of gaming, not really “one of us.” Gamer cred is the currency you use to buy back the right to be considered a goddamn human being. In a games conversation with a homosocial gaggle of men who figure you’ve never held a controller, you’re invisible — until you bust out the Ocarina of Time reference, jangle around your N64 keychain, and roll your eyes at the success of whatever new title in whatever longstanding series is still nowhere as good as the original. Throw down!

Over the last couple of years there’s been a lot of talk about what makes women “real” or “fake” gamers (see the “Idiot Nerd Girl” meme). Long told by society that playing video games wasn’t girly enough, women are now being condemned for not being gamer-y enough — at least in the eyes of the insular, defensive gaming masses. They’re being accused of jumping on the nerd wagon for the sex appeal and glory (really, people?) without earning their cred through long years of dedicated play. See also: you’re pretty, you intimidate me, get out of my tree house. The feminist pushback has largely focused on the hypocrisy and the pervasiveness of “fake girl gamer” shaming. Female gamers are just as “real” as male ones; whether you like it or not, we have the cred to prove it.

The problem is that gamer cred as an institution is fundamentally sexist. Let’s think about what counts toward your “gamer cred” score. 1) How much you play games. 2) How you perform your own gamer-ness. 3) How long you’ve been playing games.

Let’s start with 1 and 2. Cultural expectations prescribed for women are different than those prescribed for men (duh). If I am male, the contemporary culture around me encourages me to play games. I see other men playing games on TV and in movies. I have been socialized to bond with other men by challenging each other to rounds of Smash Bros. I have also been encouraged to perform my gamer-ness in loud, proud strokes. A wide array of t-shirts and paraphernalia specific to boy bodies is available to me. If I am female, on the other hand, I may play games a lot, or I may play games less frequently. I may socialize through gaming, or I may not. I may rock a games shirt (despite my limited options), or I may “pass” as a “normal” lady in normal lady clothes. But when I make those choices, I make them under a different set of conditions than men do. Your cred is not my cred. When you claim they’re the same, that there’s some objective scale, you impose on me a male standard that I’m going to have to fight uphill hard to live up to. And that’s straight up discrimination.

But it’s 3 I want to focus on: the incredibly sexist idea that you have more cred the longer you’ve been playing video games. You’ve seen the slogan with the NES controller: “Know your roots.” Let me make a confession, a confession that I have made to groups of male gamers before, a confession that is always met with looks of surprise and mild disdain. Here it goes. My first video game console was the N64. My first console game was Mario 64. Before the age of twelve, I had only ever touched a computer game. Now you know my shame. As a (male) fellow journalist once said upon hearing this, “Wow, Bonnie, I thought you had cred.”

Let me tell you something about a system like the Super NES, which came out in 1991, when I was six years old. No six-year-old buys her own game console. She plays with the toys that are bought for her, and what is bought for her is dictated by what society tells her parents are right for her age and gender. If I had waited until I could buy my own game consoles, I wouldn’t have started playing until I was sixteen and bought a GameCube (the horror). As it stands, the only reason I had access to a Nintendo 64 was because my little brother — who was around six himself when the console came out — got one for Hannukah. Like so many young girls, I had access to video games only through my brother. This isn’t because I wasn’t a “real” gamer. It’s because I was a girl.

When you judge gamer cred by how long someone has been playing, you discriminate against them based on factors outside of their control. You discriminate against women. You discriminate against people of color. You discriminate against those raised poor. We are here now, and we make the choice to play games. Counting our cred based on our past reveals how little you know about what it means to “really” love something, and what it means to just “fake” it.

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Lessons from QGC: 10 steps to creating your own games conference

Things are still winding down from the wonder that was the Queerness and Games Conference. Video of the talks is now available online. Many touching thank-yous have been sent and received. Polygon’s Danielle Riendeau and UC Berkeley’s Daily Californian both honored us with thoughtful, insightful write-ups. My favorite quote, from Danielle: “I can’t imagine something like this existing ten — or even five — years ago, but now, I can’t imagine a future without it and other similar events.”

In that spirit, it’s been important to us to find ways to keep the ball rolling, and that means sharing what we learned from the event so that others can create their own inclusive, alternative games conferences. In my last post, I outlined our event budget. This time I want to talk about our major steps and timeline. The short version: the event, which was held at the end of October, 2013, took about nine months to create. Communication, organization, persistence, and a diverse and dedicated team of organizers was crucial. Here was our process, broken down into 10 steps:

1. The idea (December, 2012). “What we need is a conference about queerness and games!” proclaims Bonnie in a fit of wide-eyed idealism. Finding your idea means more than enthusiasm though. It also means knowing the field. Does your topic interest others? Is it currently underserved by the community? Can you imagine it becoming a conference?

2. The organizers (February, 2013). The Queerness and Games Conference didn’t become real until it had a strong team of organizers. For us diversity was key. By chatting with friends, listening through the grapevine, and reaching out into the unknown, we ended up with the perfect team that bridged academics and game development.

3. The date and location (March, 2013). The earlier you can lock down your days and your venue, the better. Knowing helped up present a concrete plan to potential speakers and sponsors.

4. Web presence and registration (March, 2013). Having a website and Twitter feed as soon as possible gave us somewhere to send people who wanted to learn more about the event. We used pretty basic tools for this, like WordPress and Eventbrite, so that the organizers could leap into creating our web presence as fast and easily as possible.

5. Writing the CFP and soliciting speakers (April, 2013). A call for papers is pretty standard in conference land. For us, however, we had a few different types of person to appeal to: academics, game developers, etc. We ended up writing an academic CFP as well as an adapted version for the website. We sent this out through public channels, and we also used it when we contacted individuals who we thought would make rad participants.

6. Funding (April, 2013). As I’ve mentioned, all of our funding came from university departments. We emailed or spoke to department heads individually, followed up doggedly, and made sure that our endless paperwork was in order.

7. Selecting and scheduling talks (July, August, September 2013). This takes a long time, in part because it requires being in regular contact with a lot of people. Our speakers had to submit their abstracts by July. In August we sent them feedback. In September we began collecting info on who was definitely coming, when they could speak, etc. By the end of September our schedule was set.

8. The volunteers (September, 2013). Also in September we tracked down volunteers. We found that doing a general online call for volunteers wasn’t too successful, but asking our friends, family, and coworkers turned up some amazing people.

9. Advertise, advertise, advertise (October, 2013). In a way, we’d been advertising through our web presence since the spring, but we definitely stepped up our game in the month before the conference. We had flyers, post cards, and posters — yes, like made of dead trees — that we plastered around campus. We sent out emails to related university departments. We posted a ton of friendly reminders on our Twitter feed.

10. Crunch time (late October, 2013). And then everything happened at once. In the final weeks we were active all the time: designing and printing the programs, locking down the catering, managing last-minute speaker crises, etc. This was definitely a good time to have blocked out with no other obligations.

Conference time! October 25 – 27, 2013. Also, we’re finding that It’s good to plan for about a month of post-conference work as well. This, so far, has involved things like getting speakers their honorariums, posting online content, and writing follow-up pieces like this one.

Yes, all in all, it’s a lot of hard work, but it’s totally worth it, and (with patience, passion, and a team of awesome people) it’s very doable. Now YOU try, because we want to hang out at your conferences.

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Lessons from QGC: Budgeting your games conference on a shoestring

Last week’s Queerness and Games Conference was more inspiring than we organizers ever could have imagined. During our final session, where we discussed the future of queerness and games, many participants expressed interest in starting conferences like QGCon in their own communities and/or universities. That is rad. After nine months of making QGCon a reality, there’s a lot of nitty-gritty insight into the process that I’d like to share, in the hopes that we can make your road to organizing a shoestring game conference a little less mysterious. So let’s talk about money,

One thing to remember before I toss out a bunch of numbers: the Queerness and Games Conference was free, free-ity, free. Huzzah for financial inclusivity! However, that meant that none of our funding came from ticket sales (though, if we had it to do again, we would have added the EventBrite “donate” button to our site much sooner). As a basic comparison, here is how the cost of attending QGCon compared to the cost of other popular 2013 games conferences:

Game Developer’s Conference, all-access pass: $2,100
Indie Cade, all-access pass: $450
Penny Arcade Expo, four-day pass: $95
GaymerX, three-day pass: $70
Different Games: free
Lost Levels: free

Given that, we’re particularly proud that we pulled off the following budget, though admittedly by the skin our teeth. First off, here is a list of everything that we spent money on:

$1,400: keynote speaker (travel and accommodations covered)
$400: featured speakers (travel and accommodations partially covered)
$1,250: space rental (technically one lecture hall and one classroom, but we really a whole building)
$300: printing (posters, post cards, 200 programs)
$65: assorted materials (name badges, plates and napkins)
$420: breakfast Saturday and Sunday (coffee, bagels, and fruit for 40)
$510: lunch for speakers/volunteers Saturday and Sunday (burritos for 30)
$200: dinner for night games (pizza for 50)
$540: speaker and volunteer dinner (Mexican food buffet for 40)
$95: drinks (wine, bottled water, soda)
Total spent: $5,180

You’ll notice that a large chunk of our budget went into food. On first glance, that might seem unnecessary ($200 for pizza?). However, it was important to us to promote conviviality and a sense of community. Providing meals encouraged people to spend more time at the event space. It also allowed speakers and volunteers to grab food between sessions without stressing about local eating options. Plus, free food made the conference more financially accessible to speakers and attendees from out of town. Another large chunk of our funds went to speakers. It was important to us, as much as possible, to use our funding to promote accessibility and diversity, which meant finding ways to include participants from beyond the Bay Area.

Where did we get that money? All of our funding came from academic departments on UC Berkeley campus. If you’re also looking for university funding, we recommend searching widely; think interdisciplinary. Some departments will likely shake their heads at your silly games. Others will like the snazzy idea of a games conference. Keep on pushing and prodding, and eventually the numbers will add up. Note: despite some concerns about corporate presence at the event, we did approach a handful of games companies for support. All of them turned us down, even those with dedicated “diversity” departments. Here is where our money ultimately came from:

$1,210: Berkeley Center for New Media
$1,500: Dean of Arts and Humanities
$500: Townsend Center for Humanities
$500: Department of Film & Media
$500: School of Information
$400: German Department
$200: New Media Working Group
$200: Comparative Literature Department
$100: Gender & Women’s Studies Department
—Total funding: $5,110

Anecdotal evidence from conversations I’ve had with grad students organizing conferences on more traditional topics tells me that $5,000 is in the low-to-middle for a weekend-long event. These other conferences also included significantly fewer speakers and participants (and significantly less tasty pizza). If you were operating on an even smaller budget, you could 1) spring for less food, 2) try to find a space that’s donated instead of rented and 3) do less dead-tree printing and offer more purely web-based materials.

Given the modest nature of our funding, we got creative in a few places to help keep our costs down. First, we arranged home stays with friends instead of stipends for our speakers who needed help with accommodations. Next, we printed a lot of our less formal materials on a departmental printer. In terms of people hours, we had an enormous amount of support from a core of volunteers, whose expertise replaced the cost of A/V help, etc. Finally, we ended up cutting out one of our free food moments — the closing reception, which was supposed to have wine, cheese, etc. Instead, we announced to the crowd that we were our of money (seriously), but that they should feel free to hang out, chat, and enjoy each other’s already intoxicating company.

Next time around, assuming there is a next time around (fingers crossed), we’re hoping that the success of QGCon 2013 will help us raise funds with a bit more eeeeeeease. In the mean time, though, we are grateful to all of our sponsors, our volunteers, our speakers — and everyone who made the Queerness and Games Conference amazing, even on a shoestring budget!

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The Queerness and Games Conference is open for submissions!

I’m thrilled to say that the inaugural Queerness and Games Conference is officially moving from idea to full-blown reality. Thanks to my amazing co-organizers, we now have a website, a Twitter feed, an event space, a bit of basic funding, and the interest and support of both the industry and academia. I’m currently in Toronto for the American Comparative Literature Association conference, and everyone I talk seems excited to hear that we’re organizing a conference about the intersection of LGBT issues and video games. Plus, word is getting around. Today I mentioned the event to two separate digital humanities grad students I’d never met before, both of whom said, “Oh, everyone keeps telling me about that!”

The call for papers is now open, by the way, with a submission deadline of July 1. If this is a topic that you’d be interested in speaking to, we’d love to hear from you. Academics and game-related professionals from all disciplines are welcome to submit proposals for talks, panels, or experimental sessions. Possible topics include (but are definitely not limited to) LGBT representation in games, LGBT concerns in the games industries, and the intersection of queer theory and games studies. More detailed submission guidelines are available on our website. There you’ll also find contact info if you’d like to get in touch with the co-organizers with any questions. Spread the word! Tell your friends! Send us cool ideas and then come present them!

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Everything’s coming up queerness and games

I’m in the midst of co-organizing The Queerness and Games Conference (QGCon) a Berkeley’s Center for New Media, and I’m excited. The event is bringing together academics and game developers to talk about a variety of topics at the intersection of LGBT issues and video games: representation in games themselves, discrimination in the industry, but also how to combine queer studies and games studies. We’re aiming for something of an un-conference model, with traditional panel presentations, but also interactive workshops and maybe even a mini queer games jam. That’s happening the last weekend in October. Psst, keep an eye out for more info soon, including registration and a call for papers!

Maybe the most exciting part, however, is that it feels like, at this very moment, something is suddenly happening in queerness and games. In addition to our October conference, EA just held its half-day event Full Spectrum, which touched on similar issues in the industry (with mixed success, apparently, but all dialogues are good dialogues). Gamer X, “the first gaming and geek lifestyle convention with a focus on LGBTQ culture,” is happening this August in San Francisco. Now there’s a Kickstarter for a full-length feature documentary “exploring the queer side of gaming and LGBTQ presence in the game industry,” which has already raised $25,000+.

I’ve been a part of the games industry, in one form or another, for nine years now. (Wait, seriously? How old am I? Terrifying.) When I started out in 2004 as a games journalist who focused on gender and sexuality, I felt like one of the only voices in a vast crowd of people who insisted that “there was nothing gay about video games.” Even suggesting that we talk through these issues got me elaborate hate mail, even death threats. Just a few years back, when I presented to an auditorium of game development undergrads about implementing queer friendly design, I was met with comments like, “It had never occurred to me to put gay people in my games.”

Today, something is in the air. I’m thrilled to be re-entering the industry as a games academic at just this moment. I’m excited to see the industry begin to shift. I’m excited to see the conversations become complex and meaningful. I’m excited to see how games studies can meet queer studies. And I’m ecstatic that, when I talk to people about a Queerness and Games Conference, I’m met with support, enthusiasm, and understanding. After so many years of fighting for the legitimacy of exploring LGBT issues and games, it means an enormous amount to me every time somehow says, “Yes, that event it just what we need.”

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