You can hear a lot of abusive language playing video games online, but one of the most common forms of insult is attacking another player's sexuality. With terms like "gay" and "faggot" being thrown around so enthusiastically, it's no surprise that people who actually identify with such terms feel alienated and unwelcome.
A group of San Francisco-based gamers decided to do something about it and enact some positive change. The team, made up both of members of the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) community and their straight allies, started a Kickstarter fundraising campaign to stage an event for LGBTI gamers and their friends and supporters.
GaymerCon was born, an event where gamers of all sexual orientations and gender identities could celebrate video game culture in a safe space, free from bigotry.
The Kickstarter campaign is, at time of writing, a little over two days away from completion, but it has already been an overwhelming success. Organisers set a funding goal of $25,000 to stage the convention, and the current total stands at nearly triple that figure. It even looks like $100,000 might be achievable.
Whether that milestone is reached or not, GaymerCon is officially funded, and the inaugural event will be held in San Francisco on the weekend of 3-4 August 2013.
The project has not been free from criticism. Some gamers have taken to online forums to denounce the event for creating division rather than unity. GaymerCon director Matt Conn addressed this point of view in an interview with VentureBeat.com, saying, "I don’t think that this removes them from the greater community. I think that just gives them an additional community that can be of interest."
Despite the detractors, GaymerCon has enjoyed enthusiastic support from high profile gaming icons, such as Penny Arcade's Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik. Ellen McLean, the voice of the murderous and passive aggressive supercomputer GLaDOS in the Portal series, recorded a promotional video for the Kickstarter page. McLean's husband, fellow voice actor John Patrick Lowrie, best known for giving a voice to the Sniper in Team Fortress 2, also recorded a video supporting the fundraiser. Organisers have also reported interest from game publishers in attending and showing off their wares.
Any Screen Play readers who feel the urge to pledge some financial support, perhaps even to fly all the way to San Francisco and show their support in person, there is still time left to pledge before the Kickstarter funding drive closes.
Disclosure: The author of this blog post has pledged money to the GaymerCon Kickstarter campaign.
- James "DexX" Dominguez
DexX is on Twitter: @jamesjdominguez