GaymerX is an event that’s been a long time coming for Australia. Famous in the States for being the premiere showcase for LGBTQ developers and gamers alike, GX prides itself on its message of diversity and inclusivity. And where better to hold such an event than in Sydney directly ahead of Mardis Gras?
I must confess to feeling some concern going into the convention. I’m a straight, white male and this is a convention that is very much aimed at people who aren’t me. Even though I was attending the show in an unbiased, journalistic capacity, entering Technology Park (hosting its second gaming convention in a month after last month’s RTX AU) I still felt like a rather obvious interloper.
That sensation didn’t last long, however. Though it was still pretty quiet by the time I arrived about 10:45am, and there were more media than punters milling around (I found myself trying to keep out out of the Good Game crew’s way more than a few times), it wasn’t long before large groups of chatty, excited attendees began to fill the space. Everyone I spoke to was thrilled that the event was happening at all, that the things they wanted to talk about and highlight in the industry were being addressed honestly and head-on.
One thing I was on my guard for all day was my pronouns. The last thing I wanted to do was upset someone by addressing them incorrectly, especially given my predeliction for referring to groups of people as “guys” and automatically saying “thanks dude” when people so much as hold a door open ahead of me. My media pass, and the passes of other attendees, featured two blank lines where you could write your name and preferred pronouns if you wanted to help with this. I saw many attendees using it as a way to identify each other by Twitter handle. Lots of internet friends finally getting to meet face-to-face which was sweet.
Though I’m sure the organisers were putting out fires all day, the whole con had a very low-key, unhurried, unstressed feel to it. There were no queues for panels. You just turned up outside, waited for the last one to finish and grabbed a seat for the next (or, in the case of some, simply stayed in the theatre and marathoned a few at a time). The Expo Hall, a giant and relentless wall of light and sound at other events, felt intimate despite its size with plenty of devs enthusiastically showing off their work in progress. (On a professional level, I loved being in the Expo Hall because the background noise was low and I could record dev interviews on my phone without even needing an external mic. Amazing.)
Day one panels were all fun and interesting. Cosplayer, national treasure and now marketing queen for local game publisher Hammerfall, Eve Beauregard made many panel appearances throughout the day, each with grace and exceptional comic timing.
The Getting Into The Games Industry panel hosted by Antony Reed from the Game Developers Association of Australia was memorable for not only its frank discourse but also for the talent on display. Our own Lisy Kane from League of Geeks(!), Planescape Torment‘s Chris Avellone (!!), Fallout creator Tim Cain(!!!), Dragon Age writer David Gaider (!!!!) and Mass Effect Andromeda‘s Manveer Heir (!!!!!) took attendees on an in-depth and often very irreverent tour of the do’s and don’ts of applying for jobs within the industry.
This was followed directly by a solo panel by Heir that looked at the myths surrounding diversity in games why some of them could be doing more harm to the medium than good.
Day One wrapped up at 6pm with Big Head Mode and the Games & Body Image panel before heading to the day one afterparty at The Burdekin Hotel on Oxford St.
Many first year conventions have their problems, of course, and GX Australia wasn’t without its own technical hiccups – some of which were simply beyond their control. Signage wasn’t very prevalent outside the venue which lead to some attendees becoming confused as to how to actually get in, there were a few projector problems early on that saw a single slide announcing participants on the More Than A Game panel disappear and reappear throughout and poor Manveer Heir, unfamiliar with the MacBook he’d been given for his powerpoint presentation, had to endure several stop-start moments throughout his solo panel whenever MacOS decided to put a menu over his screen. Thankfully, a knowledgeable audience member jumped on stage and quickly sorted the issue out – thank you, clever person, whoever you are, we love you.
See you tomorrow at 10am for the eSports panel with Lisy Kane in the Auditorium and the the mystery panel (!!!!) in Panel Room 1.
Moment of the Day:
David Gaiter: (re Dragon Age Inquisition) “I know there were plenty of female fans that wanted to romance Cassandra–”
Audience: *HEAVY SIGH*