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Will Gaymercon Help or Hurt Gaming's Gay Community?
August 31, 2012 8:19 AM   Subscribe

Will next year's convention create a safe atmosphere for gay gamers, or will it simply push them further outside the medium's mainstream? Announced earlier this year, "Gaymercon is the first gaming and tech convention with a focus on LGBT geek culture."

1UP's Neilie Johnson reflects, "Since first hearing about it, I've felt conflicted about Gaymercon: The struggle between the idealist in me and the cynic. It's made me think a lot about the notions of fellowship and separatism, as well as the inherent difficulty of belonging to a larger group while retaining one's individualism."
posted by Tevin (124 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I nominate Arcade Ganon as the patron saint of the first annual Gaymercon.
posted by The Whelk at 8:24 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Isn't this just the same hand-wringing (usually straight) people do about Pride?

I'm, of course, a bit biased, but really? I'm not a gamer. I know someone in a gay gaming group. Guess what? He plays games with straight people too. But 'not only are these people gay like me, but they share a hobby with me' counts for something.
posted by hoyland at 8:25 AM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


Fine, if Kanji Tatsumi gets the nod next year.
posted by yellowbinder at 8:25 AM on August 31, 2012


Some people are going to be so upset when " mass joystick party" turns out to not be a euphemism
posted by The Whelk at 8:27 AM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think it's fine to have events or clubs that bring together a community so long as it's not truly exclusionary. Girl Scouting is designed for girls, but dude, if you really, really want to join, we can get you a sash.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 8:27 AM on August 31, 2012


It's made me think a lot about the notions of fellowship and separatism

We can talk about fellowship and separatism when the little preteen shitstain on Xbox Live stops calling me a "flaming faggot" for killing him.

It's a bit rich to call a stranger into your house in the name of solidarity and then proceed to have other people in the house incessantly act offensively and mock their lifestyle.
posted by Talez at 8:27 AM on August 31, 2012 [14 favorites]


I'm not conflicted, gaymers are awesome. I go on the relevant subreddit sometimes, and much of the stuff does not relate to both gays and gamers at the same time, but it's all about community. As someone who spent 5 years with a boyfriend who mocked my gaming pretty much constantly, and who just had his first round of strip Persona 4 Arena the other night, anything that brings gay gamers together is ok in my book.
posted by yellowbinder at 8:29 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man I play an unhealthy amount of video games but I can't visit r/Gaymers with feeling like a creepy old dude at my wizened and August age of 27.
posted by The Whelk at 8:32 AM on August 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think mostly it's a place where a bunch of gamers are going to get together, talk about games, and get totally laid. I bought my ticket!

Such hand-wringing in the 1UP article. I think "gamer" is probably more of a stigmatized identity than "gay", at least here in the San Francisco bubble.
posted by Nelson at 8:32 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's going to be *awesome* for gay gamers. I think worrying that things will become some kind of 'separate but equal' thing is absurd. I expect 'mainstream' gaming conventions and events will have 'gaymer meet-ups' within 2 years and the gaymercon community will be showing up on the panels and in the subject matter of programming events not long after.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:32 AM on August 31, 2012


"I'm not conflicted, gaymers are awesome."

I'm not gay, but hearing the creators/gayming (is that a thing? OK to say?) community talk about Gaymercon, it sounds like a ton of fun and makes me want to go.
posted by Tevin at 8:32 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


And you can say "it's not necessary, you don't need to shut yourselves off from the gaming community at large..." you have never been a gay (or woman) gamer. Things are getting better, but there's still a lot of vile stuff out there, and the gaming community seems to lag behind progressive society in a lot of ways. See the response to Anita Sarkeesian's Kickstarter if you doubt that.
posted by yellowbinder at 8:33 AM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


Also, I am SO ANNOYED that I have one event - JUST ONE EVENT - that has an tentative date scheduled for next summer, and it's the same goddamned weekend as gaymercon. Otherwise, I would like to attend. harrumf.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:33 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


"It's going to be *awesome* for gay gamers. I think worrying that things will become some kind of 'separate but equal' thing is absurd."

I think that it might be easy for the gaming community at-large to take the attitude that 'well, the LGBT crowd has Gaymercon, so we don't really need to worry about being inclusive (read: treat them like humans).'

At least, that was my takeaway from the article.
posted by Tevin at 8:34 AM on August 31, 2012


I don't think an LGBT-themed gaming con could even try to be a sort of negative separatist thing that the author is worrying about. It's kind of a ridiculous concept. A niche group organizes together to do fun things and form more of a real-life community, what's not to like?
posted by burnmp3s at 8:35 AM on August 31, 2012


Man I play an unhealthy amount of video games but I can't visit r/Gaymers with feeling like a creepy old dude at my wizened and August age of 27.

Yup. That's why I still haven't gone to any Toronto Gay Gamers meetups. I'm sure one day I will and love it but for now I'm all like "I'm tubby and 30 and you're all twinky younglings AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!"
posted by yellowbinder at 8:35 AM on August 31, 2012


GeekGirlConhas been a huge success two years running - I fully support this broadening out beyond traditional nerd target markets.
posted by Artw at 8:37 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I am really considering making this my You Survived the Bar! present if I can afford it, because I'm fascinated with these sorts of things, but I'm kind of waiting to see what the programming looks like. I'm a lesbian, and was until recently the only girl in my D&D group, and there's sort of a whole host of other issues that go with that as well as the orientation thing. I'm interested to see if it really turns out to be LGBT or more lGbt. Even if it's the latter, I still think it's a Good Start, though.
posted by gracedissolved at 8:39 AM on August 31, 2012


If you're a gay gamer, you can go to regular conventions AND this one. They each serve a different function. Sort of like how I can go to birthday parties and so forth at straight bars, but then also go to gay bars when I want to enjoy a different, more me-specific experience.
posted by hermitosis at 8:39 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


'well, the LGBT crowd has Gaymercon, so we don't really need to worry about being inclusive (read: treat them like humans).'

For the sort of person who would say this thing, what do you propose we do that would make them treat gaymers humanely?
posted by LogicalDash at 8:39 AM on August 31, 2012


Of course, I'd also like to see those traditional nerd target markets broadening out into being inclusive and not being docks about things in some of the ways we've seen lately, but this is good too.
posted by Artw at 8:39 AM on August 31, 2012


Having specialized meetups is great for recognition, education, and assimilation into the greater community.

It's bad when it results in ghettoizing the specialized group.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 8:42 AM on August 31, 2012


I'd never, ever say they shouldn't be allowed to do pretty much whatever they want, but I can't help but wonder if, by separating off into a different convention, they're not actively "othering" themselves, so that the mainstream gamers don't have to.

Of course, I've never actually been to a gaming convention, and if they're anything like XBox game chat, well, I can see wanting a separate place.
posted by Malor at 8:42 AM on August 31, 2012


That's why I still haven't gone to any Toronto Gay Gamers meetups. I'm sure one day I will and love it but for now I'm all like "I'm tubby and 30 and you're all twinky younglings AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!"

This is a big problem, as far as I'm concerned. Not only do you not get to enjoy an event specifically designed to cater to your interest, but you aren't doing these young gays any favors by keeping them in a bubble of people exactly like them.

Many of the younger gays I meet are genuinely thirsty for contact with older people who share their interests, because they don't really know the way forward, or what their own lives might look like in a few years. Yeah it can be a little painful sometimes when you have to confront some of the realities of being older, but if we let our vanity and insecurities keep us from making these connections, then we are simply all making it that much harder for ourselves and each other to gain footholds in the world.

The idea that gays are "family" certainly often does break down in practice, but we shouldn't HELP it break down by putting up walls.
posted by hermitosis at 8:44 AM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


"I'd never, ever say they shouldn't be allowed to do pretty much whatever they want, but I can't help but wonder if, by separating off into a different convention, they're not actively "othering" themselves, so that the mainstream gamers don't have to."

I would love to see this eventually run right alongside/part of/in some way connected to something like PAX and joining with the mainstream.
posted by Tevin at 8:45 AM on August 31, 2012


I can't help but wonder if, by separating off into a different convention, they're not actively "othering" themselves

Malor, are we "othering" ourselves by making sure we have gay bars to go to? (If you don't mind following my comparison above.) I don't know why it has to be assumed that the gays will ONLY go to the gay convention.
posted by hermitosis at 8:47 AM on August 31, 2012


It's less vanity and whatnot for me hermitosis, and more the whole chicken hawk/ all gay men are pedophiles thing that is such a huge art f anti gay propaganda and deep seated even in some of my otherwise liberal family member so I pretty much treat anyone under the age of 25 like white hot radiation which does no one any favors but by god you won't be able to horribly slander me!
posted by The Whelk at 8:49 AM on August 31, 2012


On the scifi/horror/comics side of this, there's Gaylaxicon, which is happening in Minneapolis next month.

I really don't think they have to worry about this being 'othering'. I've been on Xbox live. There's plenty of dudes doing the othering of gays for them.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:50 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


The trick here is marketing. Work within the game development community to insure that the most desired new thing will debut at Gaymercon, have a world-class whoop-ass party at the con, and make sure that everyone is breaking down the doors to get in next time. Voila.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 8:51 AM on August 31, 2012


Fair play hermitosis. It's definitely walls around myself rather than ewww twinks or anything. I'm often terrified/walled off in any new social situation where I don't know anyone. Like I said I'll make it one day and love it I'm sure.
posted by yellowbinder at 8:52 AM on August 31, 2012


Man, I really wish I could go to this. I'm not gay, but the environment they are fostering/describing is one of the few things that could actually get me off my ass to go to a video game convention. Hopefully this will be a regular thing, and maybe they'll have one in NYC!
posted by griphus at 8:53 AM on August 31, 2012


I would love to see this eventually run right alongside/part of/in some way connected to something like PAX and joining with the mainstream.

I wouldn't, at least not via PAX. Penny Arcade is a shining emblem of regressiveness in the gaming community. I think I gave Mike and Jerry's podcast a single shot, and there were enough gay jokes in the first few minutes to turn me off to them permanently. The dickwolves thing didn't help either. They might be doing good stuff with their charities and so forth, and I am 100% sure there is overlap between woman and LGBT gamers and fans of Penny Arcade (and 100% sure there are woman and LGBT gamers who totally disagree with me on this point) but unless they start cleaning up their act, they're not helping.
posted by griphus at 9:02 AM on August 31, 2012 [13 favorites]


I met up with the r/gaymers in Chicago when they had their first event. (Imagine how old I felt at a shocking 37...it was quite an eye opener, but that was all about who I typically hang out with as well, and certainly nothing group-related. I mean, it's not like I was trying to fuck them or something.) I've not been able to do much sense but it was a good group and quite organized. If it had been around when I was younger, I probably wouldn't have gone through most of my 20s as a non-gamer.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:02 AM on August 31, 2012


There are conventions for fans of single games, game companies, game designers, game genres, and the academic study of games. At no point have I heard the argument, "oh those crazy Blizzard fans creating a ghetto for themselves isolated from the larger culture of gaming."
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:02 AM on August 31, 2012 [12 favorites]


All I know is that when I was 19-25, I was really desperate to figure out what an adult gay lives looked like, and I didn't really know how to do that. And sure, that resulted in some sexual dalliances with older men that left both parties feeling a bit foolish, but most of those were still far less disastrous than those I had with people my own age, who themselves had zero idea what they were doing. Something like this convention would have been really perfect for my purposes.

I understand your reservations, Whelk, but treating young gay men super-deferentially or keeping them at arm's length because they are young is pretty damaging, I think. It inflates their own estimation of the power of youth and beauty, and it encourages them to cling to that power at all costs.
posted by hermitosis at 9:04 AM on August 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


Not a gamer, but I'm always amused (read: irritated) when people are all "Oh, you're separating yourselves/othering yourselves/SPLITTER!" because hi, you didn't seem to give a shit when then othering was enforced upon me and mine by people who called me names, threatened me, and so on. And no one bitches about gamers who play [thisgame] having a con or meetup devoted to [thisgame]; no one accuses them of destroying the larger gamer community
posted by rtha at 9:07 AM on August 31, 2012 [21 favorites]


I umpired softball for several years and it included a gblt league. Some of the teams were hyper competitive and could of easily done well in mainstream leagues. I guess when you are out to have fun they just didn't want the baggage associated with bigots mixing with the joy of competing and being judged for their skill rather than their gender identity. People can do what they want but I would like to be in a world where it just doesn't matter.
posted by pdxpogo at 9:11 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


If anything will help gaming keep from devolving into a sausage fest, this'll be it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:19 AM on August 31, 2012


I see the development of different forms of meetups for a schlub to be a validation of the richness and importance of that schlub. What it says to me is that schlub has grown so big, so multifaceted, so diverse that we can spend one weekend out of 52 and a couple of Web sites out of hundreds just talking about one aspect of schlub.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:22 AM on August 31, 2012


You, uh, might want to pick a different catch-all word, there.
posted by griphus at 9:25 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Whoops, oh well.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:26 AM on August 31, 2012


Malor, are we "othering" ourselves by making sure we have gay bars to go to?

I'm seeing a bit different meaning in Malor's comment. To explain it a bit, I see parallels to how events that are targeted at female gamers. For both, the success of the events over time seem to rely on which part of the target audience the emphasis is on - in this case, is the focus more about 'gay' or is it more on 'gaming'? When the events are more about the subgroup than gaming it's trying to attract, the tone that is set really skews the people marketing towards broad (but still positive) stereotypes to maximize sales, which often end up with a fake, manufactured feel that seems more like "if you're X, then you are supposed to like Y" kind of thing (to go back to the female gamer parallel, seeing games women are 'supposed' to be into, such as fashion, shopping, cute and/or pink things, etc), then you end up with the negative 'othering' I think Malor is speaking of.

However, if the focus is on the gaming end, while still having gay-themed events and hosting a positive gaming environment, it has a better chance at succeeding over time since it is not trying to define what a group is supposed to like at the exclusion (in the sense of what events and products are featured) of other products that are popular but not directly targeted to that subgroup.

In this case, the organizers have the right idea it seems.
"Gaymercon is about adding MORE gamer space, not taking people away from established gamer spaces," Williams says. "I think gaming culture has grown to the point where subcultures appearing within it is a natural and healthy progression. We are not separating from gaming culture -- we are growing it in our own unique way."
posted by chambers at 9:30 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah I know it's my weird issues, see how prejudice can cause unexpected problems! I'll see if I can make it out there, if only for the cosplay opportunities. I already have Arcade's glasses...

Also we already have a gay schlub convention
posted by The Whelk at 9:36 AM on August 31, 2012


marketing towards broad (but still positive) stereotypes to maximize sales, which often end up with a fake,

Kinda got a bit unclear there, but I meant that the marketing by developers and event planners are trying to be positive, but often unintentionally fall back on stereotypes in an effort to maximize the amount of people to draw from that subgroup, and end up reinforcing the cliches that they are trying to avoid. They're trying to minimize their risk of investing their money, while actually hurting their chances of people returning.
posted by chambers at 9:37 AM on August 31, 2012


Ever since having victim status became a coveted prize, and "being unique" became a commodity that you can sell on the internet, it seems like more and more people define themselves by the things that set them apart, rather than identifying with society as a whole. I'm sure it makes everyone feel more like a special snowflake to have an exotic heritage, but do we really need special interest groups for "Latinos who like to knit" or "Croatian racquetball players?"

That said, I fully support the right of gay gamers to have fun conventions where they can have fun and get laid. I just wish everyone would acknowledge that this is the true purpose of the con instead of trying to inflate it into a Big Social Issue.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 9:44 AM on August 31, 2012


You know there is a lot of casual and ugly homophobia in a lot of gaming subcultures that makes it really uncomfortable for gay gaming hobbyists to interact with?
posted by The Whelk at 9:46 AM on August 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


It'll be cool if Gaymercon becomes an established thing. It'll be really cool if it spreads to other cities. It'll be amazingly cool if it includes the full gamut of GLBT people, not just mostly gay men. It'll be almost unbelievably cool if it does all that and includes all kinds of gaming, not just electronic. (I'm especially hoping for RPGs -- and I don't mean CRPG\s.not the electronic form.)
posted by jiawen at 9:47 AM on August 31, 2012


rtha, your irritation is not directed at this article, right? Because it's saying just the opposite, unless there's some gaping huge lines between which I'm not reading.
posted by Tevin at 9:47 AM on August 31, 2012


rtha, your irritation is not directed at this article, right?

No. It's directed at stuff like people define themselves by the things that set them apart, and I can't help but wonder if, by separating off into a different convention, they're not actively "othering" themselves.

I'm not touching Ever since having victim status became a coveted prize with a barge pole. For now, anyway.

Comments like that conveniently ignore the active, hostile, and frequently violent "othering" and "separating" that is imposed upon those of us who are already participating in the larger community/society.
posted by rtha at 9:53 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm sure it makes everyone feel more like a special snowflake to have an exotic heritage, but do we really need special interest groups for "Latinos who like to knit" or "Croatian racquetball players?"

With the former, I'd say that the fabric arts across two whole continents with more than a dozen countries could easily justify an entire conference. On the latter, people self-organize into sporting leagues and teams on every other axis, so I don't see why not.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:53 AM on August 31, 2012


Of course they'll have to watch out for fake gay geeks.
posted by Artw at 9:55 AM on August 31, 2012


...but do we really need special interest groups for "Latinos who like to knit" or "Croatian racquetball players?"

A Latino can't not be a latino, a Croat can't not be a Croat, a LGBT individual can't not be who they are, can't not share cultural heritage, and can't not encounter whatever discrimination being a part of that group implies. It's a Big Social Issue by default.

If by "special interest group" you mean "people of similar sociocultural backgrounds/identities who get together for whatever reason" then, yes, I am sure that Latinos into knitting who can't find other Latinos into knitting and Croats into racquetball who have a hard time finding other Croats into racquetball would love to have those groups, and, as a society, we should certainly encourage people celebrating their heritage through whatever means.
posted by griphus at 9:55 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Not that it means much of anything but arguably best fighting gamer in the country is gay. Wonder if he will be there, if not for yuotube it would be worth it to go to see him play.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:57 AM on August 31, 2012


rtha that makes much more sense!

So far as "I'm not touching Ever since having victim status became a coveted prize with a barge pole. For now, anyway." goes, I think your response works just fine.
posted by Tevin at 9:57 AM on August 31, 2012


Also, having an event focused on one particular aspect of a larger thing doesn't mean that people who go to that event stop participating in the larger thing. I used to go to lgbt book conferences. I also still went to non-lgbt book conferences! Weird, right?
posted by rtha at 9:58 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


"do we really need special interest groups for "Latinos who like to knit" or "Croatian racquetball players?"

Yeah, because knitting groups are notorious for casual and constant anti-hispanic racism, and mainstrream Croatians have some really nasty words for racquetball that a player tends to find offputting.
posted by idiopath at 10:05 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


but do we really need special interest groups for "Latinos who like to knit" or "Croatian racquetball players?"

Yes, we really need them. When the standard examples of these events and situations are seen as hostile to a subset of the people attending them, when they are supposedly for "everyone" sometimes it's useful to actually have a place where you can be yourself, the person who you are, and not have to do it within a culture that is actively hostile to you and/or only paying lip-service to your inclusion.

If you are confused about why this is the case, there are a lot of good overviews on the internet and I'd suggest googling something like "Why don't we have a white history month" or "invisible backpack" to explain why the history of having safe spaces for historically oppressed minorities is a big difference from having a safe space for, say, Red Sox fans, or vegans.

This post talks about the conflict and about the things that people are thinking about when deciding whether to put on an alternative event. If you are going to continue to comment in this thread along these lines, you spend a little bit of time trying to read the room and not jump in here with well-worn tropes laden with dog whistles like "special interests" which historically has been used as a way to deny people basic civil rights. Basically this is the shorthand "If you are not trolling please try harder to look as if you are not trolling" request from me.
posted by jessamyn at 10:08 AM on August 31, 2012 [25 favorites]


I can't wait to see some of the cosplay (probably NSFW) that comes out of this.

Houston has a pretty strong gaymer community, and they had some Pokemon themed cosplayers at Pride this year. It was adorbs.

I remember the first time I went to pride and saw someone wearing a tshirt that said "Talk Nerdy to Me" - I just about died. Sure, Pride is always a rainbow of subcultures from within the subculture, but this was really the first time I saw someone identifying with nerd/geek culture within the gay community and I was thrilled to think that this might become A Thing.

I hope that this helps the larger gaming community recognize that they have a problem. I was a gamer long before I knew I was gay. But those to identities have often been at odds with each other. I would love to game socially... but it seriously harshes on my mellow when some asshat in my guild on World of Warcraft starts calling someone else a "faggot." Which happens, basically, every single goddamn day. In that respect, the best and worst parts of massively-multiplayer games are the other players.

As griphus noted, I can't just stop being gay. But I can (and have at various times) stop playing games with others because I've been made to feel awful and unwelcome because I'm gay.

I'm sure the solution for me is somewhere in the middle. I will never feel comfortable at a convention. And in the last three years I've managed to go to precisely that many gaymer meetups. So for me, it isn't the meatspace social aspect so much as creating a safe virtual space for me to enjoy gaming without homophobic asshats making me glad that I'm gaming in the safety of my own home.
posted by jph at 10:08 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Latinos who like to knit"

I can only imagine that if I was a Latino woman and I showed up to a local knitting group, only to discover that it was almost entirely made up of, say, white moms, or young white hipstery types, I might feel a bit self-conscious about participating. Hobbyist groups can wind up being conformist and exclusive in all sorts of subtle, coded ways, even when there isn't outright hostility like there is with gays and gaming. Especially when many of the members are already friends outside the group.
posted by hermitosis at 10:20 AM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


hermitosis: Malor, are we "othering" ourselves by making sure we have gay bars to go to? (If you don't mind following my comparison above.) I don't know why it has to be assumed that the gays will ONLY go to the gay convention.

Well, my assumption was that they were creating a gay convention because they were uncomfortable, for some reason, at the straight one. If cons are anything like XBox chat, I can see why they might want to.

In a bar, assuming you're going for sex/relationships, segregating into gay versus straight seems intelligent; you're trying to pre-qualify potential partners. But, while I'm not gay, and am thus projecting rather than speaking from experience, it at least seems like it wouldn't matter that much for gaming -- you can battle a straight person in Magic just as effectively as a gay one, no? Or trawl through a dungeon?

I hope they have a great time, but unless the big reason to go to a con is to find someone for after-hours "gaming", it seems a little weird to split themselves off from the mainstream that way. At least on the surface, it strikes this straight guy as a little counterproductive.
posted by Malor at 10:26 AM on August 31, 2012


Well, my assumption was that they were creating a gay convention because they were uncomfortable, for some reason, at the straight one.

They were uncomfortable at the general convention which is unfriendly enough for LGBT individuals that it may as well be a convention for straight gamers. That's the problem with not being in the default culture, which isn't going to stop being the default culture any time soon.

...it at least seems like it wouldn't matter that much for gaming -- you can battle a straight person in Magic just as effectively as a gay one, no? Or trawl through a dungeon?

Seriously, just Ctrl+F the word "faggot" in this thread and you'll have your answer.
posted by griphus at 10:28 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


In a bar, assuming you're going for sex/relationships, segregating into gay versus straight seems intelligent; you're trying to pre-qualify potential partners.

I think that's a big assumption. I mean, yeah, cruising and so forth is a big part of nightlife whether you're gay or straight, but historically (and you may not know this) gay bars have been all about community as well. It's about having a place where you can totally be yourself -- very valuable for people whose home, work, and/or social lives preclude that ability.
posted by hermitosis at 10:32 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


but do we really need special interest groups for "Latinos who like to knit"

I realize you're saying this as an absurd example, but considering how overwhelmingly white the knitting community is, I could totally see that as something that would be welcome. Especially if you're implying that its a group that's open to Latino guys, and not just Latina women.

Mostly, I don't see what the problem is with hanging out with people who are like you. Not even all the time, just some of the time.

I really didn't try to join geek and gaming meatspace communities until college, when I immediately started wondering why I hadn't done it sooner. The answer was that I went to a women's college with a high GLBT population, so being a lady kinsey 5 was considered normal. After college? When I tried to join new geek/gaming communities with a general audience? I was constantly reminded how nonstandard I was. Nowadays I get most of my geek meatspace interactions from my knitting group, which just happens to be mostly comprised of geeky GLBT women (and a couple guys).

I can hang out with geeky guys, or straight women, or non-geeky lesbians or whatnot, and I do! It's just nice to also be able to hang out with my people from time to time.

That being said, as much as I cringe at the dickwolves and gay jokes in Penny Arcade, PAX has been the only gaming convention I've been to where I haven't felt uncomfortable or harassed for being female. I'd go back again.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:32 AM on August 31, 2012


idiopath: ""do we really need special interest groups for "Latinos who like to knit" or "Croatian racquetball players?""

Sometimes Latinos like to knit, and want to hang out with other Latinos. It really doesn't need to be any more complicated than that. No "othering" required -- some non-Latino knitters might even end up joining the group!

I row with a gay crew team (one of three in the world!), and every few years we have this same identity crisis. The homophobia that was rampant in our sport in the early-90s has largely died out in our Enlightened Urban Area, largely voiding out the original reasons for the foundation of our team.

These days, our focus is very much on the rowing, rather than the gay. An increasing percentage of our members are straight, and it's really no big deal. Some of them are definitely "allies," while others simply preferred the vibe of our team.

However, we're a competitive team, and have a fun little social circle largely made up of like-minded people. Most of us don't have "gay jobs," cook "gay dinners," have "gay families," or even live in "gay neighborhoods." When you're a part of a small minority like that (especially one that's often oppressed), it's really nice to have a social circle and "safe space" that shares or supports your identity. If that social circle revolves around something else that you like doing, that's pretty dang awesome!

Also, this sort of thing is really fucking important for young kids who are starting to come of age. Growing up in my small (pop 6000) hometown, I knew one out gay person, and he was a year younger than me. Suffice it to say, I was terrified of what sort of "lifestyle" that being gay would lead to, and was similarly terrified that I didn't fit in with the twinks, drag queens, and [whatever other stereotypes that Ryan Murphy is currently perpetuating on TV]. Honestly, I had no idea what it was like to be a gay adult, because I didn't know any.

If I was, as a confused 16-year-old, able to attend a 'gaymercon', and see that it was exactly like any other gamercon, possibly even meeting some well-adjusted/non-stereotypical adults in the process, the next few years of my life would have been so much better. There's a lot of pressure today for out gay adults to "lead by example," and while I don't necessarily agree with the basis of that argument, I do think that it's important for the "average Joe" kind of gays to be out there, and attending/supporting events such as this one. It's awesome that we're seeing more and more celebrities/actors coming out of the closet, but I think it's even more important for the kids of tomorrow to see the out gay gamers, athletes, teachers, sales clerks, mayors, middle-managers, accountants, and doctors.
posted by schmod at 10:33 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Basically this is the shorthand "If you are not trolling please try harder to look as if you are not trolling" request from me.

Jessamyn, I'm not trolling. I'm way too ambivalent about this issue to troll. I just think self-segregation is odd. I mean, minorities have historically worked for a very long time to avoid being segregated away from society, and now that this goal has (more or less) been achieved, it seems a little strange to voluntarily do what they fought so hard against. I honestly can't parse that logic, so my assumption is it's all about the hookups.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 10:35 AM on August 31, 2012


...and now that this goal has (more or less) been achieved...

This incorrect assumption is the crux of your confusion.
posted by griphus at 10:40 AM on August 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


> I just think self-segregation is odd. I mean, minorities have historically worked for a very long time to avoid being segregated away from society, and now that this goal has (more or less) been achieved, it seems a little strange to voluntarily do what they fought so hard against. I honestly can't parse that logic, so my assumption is it's all about the hookups.

You are completely ignorant about this issue, which is fine, we all start from zero, but you need to start remedying your ignorance and stop simply saying unintentionally insulting and tiresome things.
posted by languagehat at 10:40 AM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


I just think self-segregation is odd.

And that is a feeling you are welcome to have. It's also one of those "asked and answered on the internet and elsewhere thousands of times", so it would be nice if you didn't make this thread about your lack of historical understanding of this issue from this point forward.
posted by jessamyn at 10:41 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


idiopath: ""do we really need special interest groups for "Latinos who like to knit" or "Croatian racquetball players?""

idiopath didn't say that - he was quoting it.

I think it's a sad commentary that people apparently can't understand how sometimes it's nice not to be surrounded by a casually hostile majority. Log on to any online game and the endless repetition of the word faggot is inescapable. How hard is it to understand that it's nicer to be able to share a hobby without being bombarded with hate speech.
posted by winna at 10:43 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just think self-segregation is odd.

You might think that, but that's also the point of a convention in the first place. If a person doesn't care about meeting people like them, they would probably not choose to attend something whose sole purpose is to meet other people who have the same activities/identities as them (gamer, geek, latino, gay, whatever).
posted by dinty_moore at 10:45 AM on August 31, 2012


I think an equally important question is why do gamers need cons. Seems like they are trying to make themselves seem special by segregating themselves. Can't they go to other already established cons the like the car/boat/gun/comic/toy/livestock con we have every year? nooooo, they had to go and start a cons for "gamers".
posted by Ad hominem at 10:46 AM on August 31, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'm way too ambivalent about this issue to troll.

Then you may also be unprepared to engage in the conversation at the same level everyone else is aspiring to.
posted by hermitosis at 10:54 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, and I just want to say one thing as a straight gamer (who generally loathes to identify himself as a "gamer") to other straight gamers:

I really like video games: playing them, talking on web about them, reading books about them, listening to podcasts, interacting (in person) with other people who play games, writing about them, whatever. It's a significant part of my life, and probably my biggest passion. And I, literally, can't comprehend what life would be like if the community aspect of this thing that's a huge deal in my life was openly hostile to me, whether directly or (more likely) ambiently.

We need to support this as enthusiastically as the LGBT community does because at the end of the day, this isn't a problem that LGBT gamers have. It's a problem that we all have and it's shameful. I'm not pointing fingers. I'm not saying YOU THERE, HUBERT J. RANDOM WITH XBOX CONTROLLER, FEEL BAD! That doesn't accomplish a damn thing. But when a group of people who are, as far as passion for this thing goes, just like us says "hey, we're having a rough time and, while things are getting better, it would be great if we had a place where we didn't have to worry about that," the response has to be "how can we help?"
posted by griphus at 10:58 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


To the doubters, do you have any idea how terrifyingly overcompensatingly straight (male only) game conventions are? It's like the worst of videogaming's already problematic issues with non straight male sexual identity. Case in point, dudes lineing up to get awkward photographs with booth babes.

Gay gamers are almost invisible to the mass gaming audience, and at a time when more and more games try to include (mostly pg rated) sexuality there is huge backlash both in and out of the community when a game tries to actually acknowledge that hey, some gamers aren't straight. There's tons of room for improvement, and events like this can only help.

So yay, this is awesome, I'm glad it's happening in my hometown.
posted by aspo at 11:01 AM on August 31, 2012


I see this the same way I see the development of alternative Pride events within the gay community like DykeMarch. When you belong to a larger culture or subculture, at times you need to schism when the larger community is no longer representative of the reasons why you are a part of the culture. For DykeMarch, Pride was losing touch with its original design and purpose, and so a schism was in order to re-establish the values and goals that the group believed in.

I am a gamer because I love to play games. I stop loving games when I'm interrupted by epithets being yelled at me. Because that's become an inescapable part of mainstream gaming culture, a schism is called for in order to re-establish the values that we're basing this around. I just hope that the larger gaming community realizes that they're cutting off their noses to spite their collective faces when they make people feel unwelcome by becoming so casually homophobic/bigoted/anti-woman.
posted by jph at 11:02 AM on August 31, 2012


Yeah the Gaymercon is for everyone also, it's not like a "gays only" con. Even lawyers.
posted by jessamyn at 11:04 AM on August 31, 2012


Malor: Well, my assumption was that they were creating a gay convention because they were uncomfortable, for some reason, at the straight one. If cons are anything like XBox chat, I can see why they might want to.

Well, that's one reason why these groups form. Another reason is that LGBT players, LGBT characters, and same-sex relationships as narrative devices and gameplay mechanics strike me as interesting aspects of games worthy of discussion.

In a bar, assuming you're going for sex/relationships, segregating into gay versus straight seems intelligent; you're trying to pre-qualify potential partners.

Queerspace and LGBT-focused space isn't just about cruising. Sometimes, it's a space were LGBT people can talk about our lives without having to self-censor frustrations, worry quite as much about being "outed," compete without anti-gay trash-talk, or discuss a topic from an entirely queer-focused perspective. LGBT-focused conference tracks and conferences are a place where like-minded people can meet and interact, and where authors can find interested audiences for their work.

Gaymercon, like many LGBT-focused spaces isn't strictly segregated. No one is going to check your gay-card at the door. It's a space focused LGBT people and other minorities in the gaming community. If that's not something you want to talk or learn about, you don't have to attend.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:12 AM on August 31, 2012


I just think self-segregation is odd. I mean, minorities have historically worked for a very long time to avoid being segregated away from society, and now that this goal has (more or less) been achieved,

As was noted above, this assumption is a big part of why you're making the mistakes you're making here.

it seems a little strange to voluntarily do what they fought so hard against.

Yeah, see, that's not what they fought against. What they fought against was not having the choice. Gay bars didn't all close down after Stonewall. There's tremendous value in having a sense of community and shared experience. To do this as gamers is easily understood, since the video game mainstream (like every other media mainstream), even when it works towards inclusiveness, is still pretty overwhelmingly geared towards straight people. I don't think it's so hard to figure out why it would be a welcome change to be able to hang out with other gamers without (as one example of a million microaggressions) having to hear someone complain that they don't want the main character of Mass Effect to have a gay option since that would somehow make him less manly. And, again, if gaming's your hobby then maybe it'd be awesome to have a space where you hang out with other gamers who have more of a chance of sharing your experiences and values. It's hardly segregation to want to have that experience, especially since it doesn't come at the expense of experiences in other circles at other times.

And as has also been noted, straight people are more than welcome to come to it. In this way it's a counterbalance to most gaming cons, where "straight" is the default setting (much like, oh, almost everywhere else).

I honestly can't parse that logic, so my assumption is it's all about the hookups.

That seems like a hell of a leap to make, since we're in the age of Grindr and Growlr and all the assorted things like that - there isn't really a need to dress up an excuse to hook up as there are thousands of venues for that already. Will people hook up? Yeah, probably - just like at any other con. Will some people be there mainly for the hookups? Yeah, probably, just like any other con. Is that the reason for the con's existence? Nope.

Up above, jessamyn suggested reading up on the invisible backpack. It might be a pretty good place to start, and might help explain some of the pushback you're getting here. I know it just seems like the ol' pearl-clutching PC echo chamber firing up again, but really - do some reading with an open mind.

And I'm not sure but I think a lot of the sense of trolling actually came from this:

Ever since having victim status became a coveted prize

I mean, come on. Come on.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:15 AM on August 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


Gay gamers are almost invisible to the mass gaming audience, and at a time when more and more games try to include (mostly pg rated) sexuality there is huge backlash both in and out of the community when a game tries to actually acknowledge that hey, some gamers aren't straight.

Really? Didn't Mass Effect and Skyrim have some characters that were only romance options for same-sex relationships? I didn't really hear much of a stir about this, but then again, I live in Massachusetts. Was there a big commotion about it elsewhere? (I'm not being sarcastic; I'm legitimately curious.)

I think it's a sad commentary that people apparently can't understand how sometimes it's nice not to be surrounded by a casually hostile majority. Log on to any online game and the endless repetition of the word faggot is inescapable. How hard is it to understand that it's nicer to be able to share a hobby without being bombarded with hate speech.

You know, I grew up very poor, and before I got accepted into a specialized high school in New York City, I went to junior high in Spanish Harlem where - as a white person who was a minority in school - I was subjected to casual racism and epithets all the time. So it's not like I don't understand it; I dealt with it every day for four years. I just don't get why you would care. The people doing this name calling are not loved ones, they're not professional contacts, they're not people you respect in any way, nor are they in any position to advance or hinder your life. In other words, they don't have any hold over you other that that which you allow them to have in your mind... so why do their opinions matter? They're just dust in the wind, you know?

I think an equally important question is why do gamers need cons. Seems like they are trying to make themselves seem special by segregating themselves. Can't they go to other already established cons the like the car/boat/gun/comic/toy/livestock con we have every year? nooooo, they had to go and start a cons for "gamers".

Ha! OK, good point. When you put it that way, I guess I concede that some of my original point does seem a little ridiculous. Thanks for putting it into perspective.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 11:28 AM on August 31, 2012


Yeah I'm with Griphus. I went to PAX once, and I'm never going again, for more than 2 reasons.

The mainstream gamer culture is really alienating to me, as a straight dude. So you're telling me there's a place where I can go and enjoy the thing that I love but without the homophobia, misogyny, racism, and general dickwadery? SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY
posted by danny the boy at 11:33 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


wolfdreams01: "I was subjected to casual racism and epithets all the time... I just don't get why you would care... nor are they in any position to advance or hinder your life."

OH FFS
posted by danny the boy at 11:36 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


You know, I grew up very poor, and before I got accepted into a specialized high school in New York City, I went to junior high in Spanish Harlem where - as a white person who was a minority in school - I was subjected to casual racism and epithets all the time. So it's not like I don't understand it; I dealt with it every day for four years. I just don't get why you would care. The people doing this name calling are not loved ones, they're not professional contacts, they're not people you respect in any way, nor are they in any position to advance or hinder your life. In other words, they don't have any hold over you other that that which you allow them to have in your mind... so why do their opinions matter? They're just dust in the wind, you know?

As someone else who grew up white in a majority-minority community, I can tell you it isn't the same thing. Really. No matter how much you think it is, it really isn't comparable. I had to deal with some shitty, shitty stuff growing up, but it wasn't coming from the entire world. The mass culture was on my side. I got out of there, and now the stories I tell about growing up seem almost quaint, or don't make sense. Because the larger cultural context does not support it.

Being a minority means not being able to escape the ridicule and stereotypes by escaping that one shitty neighborhood. It's everywhere.
posted by dinty_moore at 11:37 AM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


I once had a conversation at the bar of the four seasons. A guy (gay for the record) said "I hear this is a gay bar on tuesdays" and another guy said "get enough gay guys in a bar and it is a gay bar"

If enough straight gamers think this sounds cool and decide to attend, is it still Gaymercon?
posted by Ad hominem at 11:38 AM on August 31, 2012


I didn't really hear much of a stir about this...

Here you go. Go ahead and just google "Mass Effect gay" and you'll find quite a few similar articles. There was even an FPP by hermitosis on the subject. Again, to reiterate what a lot of other people have said: good-faith engaging in this conversation involves, at the very least, an attempt to remove some of your ignorance about the subject.

I just don't get why you would care.

That's awesome. Really, it is. But the fact that you don't understand why a person who encounters a certain form of discrimination feels a certain way doesn't give you the right to discount their emotions, especially when you're outside of their frame of reference. The fact that you got "white boy" thrown at your in school doesn't mean you're anywhere close to the territory of people who are straight-up alienated by society. You got yelled at by teenagers, not discriminated against.
posted by griphus at 11:38 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yup. That's why I still haven't gone to any Toronto Gay Gamers meetups. I'm sure one day I will and love it but for now I'm all like "I'm tubby and 30 and you're all twinky younglings AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!"
I dunno man. It is my experience that gay gamers on the internet seem to be 90% twinks who identify each other primarily by the unique patterning of their abs (or haircuts for those occasions when shirts are on).

Then you go to local get togethers and suddenly POOF it's a standard spread of all different kinds of people. MYSTERIOUS!
posted by kavasa at 11:41 AM on August 31, 2012


Being a minority means not being able to escape the ridicule and stereotypes by escaping that one shitty neighborhood. It's everywhere.


This is an important point.Minorities can temporarily escape ridicule and stereotypes by starting their own cons.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:44 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just think self-segregation is odd. I mean, minorities have historically worked for a very long time to avoid being segregated away from society, and now that this goal has (more or less) been achieved, it seems a little strange to voluntarily do what they fought so hard against.

There's a big difference between "you have to sit at the back of the bus because you're black and I'm white and I said so" and "I'm going to go sit with some people that I have stuff in common with."
posted by Foosnark at 11:47 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


> If enough straight gamers think this sounds cool and decide to attend, is it still Gaymercon?

I can't quite tell if you're just being flip, but I think it depends on the straight gamers and their attitude--a similar discussion's been happening lately among people I know because it feels like most of the people at the gay bar any weekend night are straight folks (one local blogger wrote a nice post about it).
posted by Vibrissa at 11:50 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


People freaked out over the gay option in ME3 when they should've freaked out cause he was SO BORING.

(There was a later fix to patch Kadien in as a romance, which is fine, he has the eyebrows for it.)
posted by The Whelk at 11:50 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Straight people go to Pride, gay bars, etc. Straight people can probably go to GaymerCon as well.

It would only be segregating if it wasn't all-inclusive. This, however, recognizes the gay community and offers them to be an open part of the gaming culture.

There's nothing wrong with subcategories just like there is nothing wrong with video game genres. GaymerCon will be a place that says, "Hey, come here and you can be you while meeting people like you."
posted by thetoken at 11:53 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's roughly 128 (at least by the count I did a year ago) different gamer cons in the United States each year. We're not going to fragment gaming culture by adding one more.

I honestly can't parse that logic, so my assumption is it's all about the hookups.
I just want to say that I can't parse this logic at all. That's like saying GeekGirlCon is all about makeup and fashion tips. It's incredibly dismissive and distills a whole group of people down to a stereotype.

I don't think you mean it that way, but, really, this is how it comes across.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 11:54 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


a similar discussion's been happening lately among people I know because it feels like most of the people at the gay bar any weekend night are straight folks (one local blogger wrote a nice post about it).

Yeah, that is what I meant. I probably shouldn't admit it here but I don't go to gay bars when women want me to go dancing just for this reason. There is a reason people go to gay bars and it isn't to hang out with me.

Lets say there is a party and a bunch of people are like "We want to talk about kittens, we are going in the kitchen" and half the party goes in there with them and starts talking about puppies.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:57 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, thanks for the link to the Ricky Ortiz guys's twitter, I love that he wears heals and lipstick and eyeshadow and competes at the highest levels of the extremely macho, misogynist, homophobic competitive fighting games world.

Also the wolfdreams person confused me because there's another gamer type person here with "wolf" in his name who has been consistently clueful in the past so seeing the standard "special interests" stuff was weird until I realized it was a different person. Whew!

I WANT TO GO TO THIS btw, but I probably won't be able to. But man, being able to walk around a con hall holding hands would be awesome. So awesome. As it is BF + self apparently (even though we almost never touch each other in public) somehow emit Gay Waves even when we're not inspecting paint options at the home improvement store, and even in big cities in the midwest you can't escape the whispers, giggles, comments, etc.

Haven't been openly threatened since we left Florida though, so that's cool.
posted by kavasa at 11:59 AM on August 31, 2012


Also also I love when straight white people are all "I went to a school that was mostly not-white so I totally know exactly what it's like!"

Hint: you actually do not!
posted by kavasa at 12:01 PM on August 31, 2012 [11 favorites]


Let's talk about safe space for a second here. I'm lucky because I had a relatively sheltered childhood, and I can put up with the rampant homophobia encountered daily in online PvP games, and have fun anyway. But I'm not everyone. We all go to games to unwind, but some people are less lucky than me, have genuine trauma in their past, and may actually be triggered by the casual homophobic rants one is likely to stumble upon while playing a game online.

Being able to play games with a group of people that don't casually hate you... that's not a crazy idea, is it? But currently, it's remarkably difficult. Gaming is becoming an increasingly social experience post-Internet, thanks to MMOs, MOBAs, etcetera... and for some of us, that means it's become increasingly hostile. I fully support the creation of LGBTQI safe spaces for gamers.
posted by mek at 12:06 PM on August 31, 2012


Another aspect of LGBT-focused spaces and queerspaces is that you can have richer discussions once the 101 (or worse 011) level concepts are treated as understood. For example, I'd love to hear a discussion of the attempt at orientation-blind writing in DA2 (after DA established that family lineage is a big fucking deal) compared to the realistic view from New Vegas that a tribe struggling with negative population growth might not be fully supportive of a character's declared lesbianism. Or what kinds of non-erotic roleplay about sexual orientation are people doing in RP-friendly MMOs? What are good practices for running a friendly guild: instaban or teach?

Those are conversations that are difficult to have when a chunk of the audience is bickering that sexual orientation shouldn't be a part of the gaming experience at all.

Yup. That's why I still haven't gone to any Toronto Gay Gamers meetups. I'm sure one day I will and love it but for now I'm all like "I'm tubby and 30 and you're all twinky younglings AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!"

Intergenerational friendships with older gay men were very important to me when I was coming out at 20. I didn't end up dating any of them, but it was good to meet gay men (and lesbians) who came out in the 70s and 80s, had careers, and contributed to many of the support networks I was depending on.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:12 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hey... not to sound mean, but I already conceded my original point was incorrect at the end of this post here. Some very good points were made that made me reconsider my stance, and as a logical person, I don't consider myself above changing my opinion if enough evidence is brought to bear. So before anyone else jumps headfirst into the pile-on, I would appreciate a little reading comprehension which may help you to understand that the point is now moot.

Also, I'm totally not interested in playing "Who was the bigger victim?" You're totally welcome to discount all the racism I experienced and trivialize it in proportion to the greater quantity of racism you experienced... and maybe you might even have a point. But if people like kavasa don't care about the suffering I experienced, why should I care about hers? Empathy is a two way street, after all. So I'd rather not get into that topic simply since it seems relatively unproductive.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 12:36 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Seriously folks, go to MetaTalk and don't make this all about wolfdreams01, please. This is a thing that can happen. wolfdreams01, you are welcome to the same remedy.]
posted by jessamyn at 12:40 PM on August 31, 2012


I just think self-segregation is odd.

The best quote I've ever seen on the subject of exclusionary spaces goes something like this: you can't spend decades putting people in little cages and then expect them to open the door whenever you want to visit.

The amazing part of being in a minority space is when you -- for once! -- get to assume that everyone else in the room is like you, not like the people who hate you. It's about talking to random people at the bar about things you're not supposed to talk about in bars. It's about being able to cup your hands and yell something which would be met with shocked silence anywhere else, and get a crowd-roar back. If that means some people won't be comfortable there, so be it... these are wonderful things which can't happen any other way.
posted by vorfeed at 12:47 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


A great many gay gamers are closeted. Not in real life, but in the internet communities they frequent. There are a lot of reasons for this, of course, and they're all good reasons (like for instance, ideally, why would you go talking about who you have sex with on a gaming forum?) but this is still one of the things that allows the ridiculous homophobia in 'the gaming community' to persist.

(There's something interested and related-- the fact that many women gamers are also closeted.)

Any gay gamer that outs him or herself gets to deal with a ton of unwanted attention. This is true of the first ones that do so. It is less true of the ones that follow. For somebody who thinks he or she is the only gay person in some community, it's likely not worth it. But the whole situation means that that person doesn't have much sense of how prevalent homosexuality is in that community.

When gay gamers get together (to play, to complain, maybe even, yeah, to engage in some hanky-panky), they're going to come back to their internet communities with a new understanding that they're not alone. They'll realize that even if they do out themselves, the unwanted attention they're getting isn't from everybody in the community. They'll realize that there's enough of them out there that it's worth standing up to defend a friend, even if it means suffering the same attacks.

Describing this as self segregation is a little strange. We are not talking about a mass exodus of gay gamers to build an arcology on Sealand. We are talking about a convention of people who will return to their homes and their internet communities. The question is whether they return with a larger sense of alienation, or with a sense of solidarity.
posted by nathan v at 1:23 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


We are not talking about a mass exodus of gay gamers to build an arcology on Sealand.

*throws luggage and construction plans on the floor*

This is bullshit!
posted by The Whelk at 1:25 PM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


This is bullshit!
Whatever dude, the sealand proposal sucked from day one. We just need to get the freaky libertarian guy from paypal on board and go with the original alcatraz island proposal.
posted by kavasa at 1:30 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just build a big school in Westchester county.
posted by The Whelk at 1:33 PM on August 31, 2012


The arcology is as dead an end as trying to assemble that rocket to Alpha Centauri. Hopefully the boost in culture production the con will provide will be enough to flip the neighboring cities.
posted by griphus at 1:38 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hopefully the boost in culture production the con will provide will be enough to flip the neighboring cities

I was trying to come up with a Construct Gay Wonder joke but ....
posted by The Whelk at 1:44 PM on August 31, 2012


The arcology is as dead an end as trying to assemble that rocket to Alpha Centauri.
Shhhhhhhhh. If Santiago hears you she'll snap your arm like a bundle of twigs.
posted by kavasa at 1:49 PM on August 31, 2012


I will not relent.
posted by The Whelk at 1:52 PM on August 31, 2012


I hope this goes over well enough to have one on the east coast.
posted by Karmakaze at 1:53 PM on August 31, 2012


Game Developer Uses Sweden's Twitter Account to Confront Sexism and Misogyny in the Game Community
posted by homunculus at 2:43 PM on August 31, 2012


Things are getting better, but there's still a lot of vile stuff out there, and the gaming community seems to lag behind progressive society in a lot of ways

You're not wrong, certainly - but as a gamer who was a gamer when saying you spent the weekend drinking beer and playing video games got you strange looks from your family (and you never ever mentioned it at work!) - I wonder how much of the regressiveness in gamer culture stems from the time when it was a less acceptable hobby to have.

I see some similarity between the regressiveness in the gamer culture to the antagonism in African American culture against things that are "too white". It's not an exact analog certainly - but for a long time gamer culture was unacceptable and so being unacceptable became gamer culture.

Personally, I think that the offensiveness and childishness will be hard habits to break, because without those, then well gaming becomes any other hobby.

Now, I say this - I gamed with my gay son. I ran a top 1000 guild that was better than half women and gay people. I've worked to improve the culture where I can, because that "BRO-DUDE" shit is annoying. But it is also defining and many people really like that definition.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:14 PM on August 31, 2012


Personally, I think that the offensiveness and childishness will be hard habits to break, because without those, then well gaming becomes any other hobby.

My biggest hope here is that the expanding demography of gamers in general will lead to a conditions that make it easier to just sort of reboot gaming culture by mass assimilation. Even accepting the fact that kids can be stupid dicks in a vacuum, a broader base of types of people playing games and talking about games will hopefully undercut the perpetuation-by-imitation that comes from a sort of closed community of young goons. (Which even then is just a subset of the actual young gaming community, but unfortunately it's easy for them to be a very loud subset—with the advent of ubiquitous voice chat, literally so.)

As far as nice times gaming with non-dinguses go, I can never stop recommending people go check out mefightclub. Bunch of mefite and mefi-friendly gamers talking about games video and otherwise, organizing multiplayer stuff, account is free, stavrosthewonderchicken keeps the place running.
posted by cortex at 4:29 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't, at least not via PAX. Penny Arcade is a shining emblem of regressiveness in the gaming community.

PAX is this weekend in Seattle. Looking at the schedule there's more than a few panels dealing with gender, sexuality, and also community stuff like bullying that can be applicable.

Obviously PAX isn't just the panels, but going by them it isn't really seeming like some kind of fortress of utter regressitude.
posted by Artw at 4:35 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I mean, there's posters above saying that PAX is a good place and a bad place. It's clearly doing some good, and that is great. But aligning an explicitly safe space with PA os a Faustian bargain. PA is a powerhouse. When they say "jump," the internet jumps At the end of the day, anyone at PAX has to say "thanks, Mike and Jerry" (literally or figuratively.) And Mike and Jerry -- and the attitudes they display and encourage -- are the problem.
posted by griphus at 5:08 PM on August 31, 2012


As of a few minutes ago, the KickStarter has been successfully funded. They raised getting $91,389 from donations and tickets ales.
posted by griphus at 9:04 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


The largest cons, in my experience, are like the largest cities: there's just more of everything. Wonderful people, horrible jerks, interesting conversations, scary situations, interesting things you've never seen, horrible things no one should see -- all are present, in greater numbers.

Some cons manage to make themselves safer spaces, but (again in my experience) it's only through titanic force of will that they actually achieve that. Otherwise, there will be some safer spaces, and others that are just as bad as they were before (if not worse, due to blowback).
posted by jiawen at 12:30 AM on September 1, 2012


I think that it might be easy for the gaming community at-large to take the attitude that 'well, the LGBT crowd has Gaymercon, so we don't really need to worry about being inclusive (read: treat them like humans).'

That's not the LGBT gamers fault; that would be because the larger gaming community is still quite homophobic. Any civil rights movement always get laden with the burden of figuring out the perfect cheat code that gains them immediate recognition without assaulting 'mainstream' sensibilities, but there isn't any.

Handwringing about being separate but equal or separate spaces is especially annoying. The history of succesive civil rights movements is at least a century old now (v. conservative estimate) and having safe spaces, having places away from majority culture and expectations have always played a huge role in the success of any such movement. Majority culture, never welcoming to the movement in question is always offended when such "withdrawals" take place, always insists that if only these uppity so-and-sos just behaved themselves they would be more than welcome but that obviously they're not interested.

We really don't need to rerun the same debates in 2012 that our (great) grandmothers and fathers had in 1912.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:57 AM on September 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was wondering upthread about the benefits of self-segregation, and after a couple of days of thought, I think I figured out what it's for; it's to give the 'gaymers' (don't really like that word, but 'gay gamers' sounds bizarre) space to figure out what the social conventions around gaming should be, sans homophobia, so they can then take those standards back to the mainstream.

If they're busy fighting constantly about little things, there's no attention free to figure out the bigger ones. Or, probably, just to hang out and enjoy the convention. By going off into a separate space, they can both have fun and work out what friendly, inclusive gaming conventions should look like, without having to wrestle alligators the entire time. Then they can come back to the mainstream conventions with a nice, coherent list of 'things you should and shouldn't do if you want us to be comfortable'.

I do hope it's a temporary thing, and that it disappears over the long haul. As far as I'm concerned, if the gaymers feel the need for a separate space, the rest of us are blowing it. I know it's bad now, but maybe someday it won't be.
posted by Malor at 3:54 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Well, I should say -- I don't know it's bad from personal experience, because I haven't been to any conventions. But it sounds like they really are live versions of XBox chat, and that I'm quite familiar with, to my dismay.)
posted by Malor at 3:55 PM on September 2, 2012


I don't know if anyone will read this given how late this is, but there was some kind of sexual assault incident that happened at (at?) PAX. I figure the whole dickwolves/rape-culture thing only contributes to this kind of behavior. Which to me entirely justifies the need for safe spaces.
posted by yeoz at 10:22 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


What I hate about that is how she had to preface her post by saying yeah, this wasn't at PAX or at a party hosted at PAX or on the PAX premises. She writes "The only things it had in common were being gaming related and being the same weekend in the same city."

I mean, come on.

I don't hold Mike & Jerry responsible, just as I don't hold Mojang responsible. I hold the entire community responsible--particularly for their responses, and why she felt like she needed a huge disclaimer on top.
posted by danny the boy at 2:11 PM on September 4, 2012


r/gaymers may be forced to rename themselves after trademark challenge from Gaymer.org. (second link appears to be down atm)
posted by yellowbinder at 7:51 AM on September 10, 2012


Interestingly, gaymer.com has gone, in the last 10 minutes, from unreachable to a suspended account. Looks like somebody either pissed off the wrong group or couldn't handle the increased traffic.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:02 AM on September 10, 2012


oops, I meant gaymer.org...which is the site in question
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:25 AM on September 10, 2012


Statement from Gaymer.org's Chris Vizzini.
posted by yellowbinder at 11:44 AM on September 10, 2012


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