This week I was fortunate enough to attend the Game Developers Conference and sit in the crowd for the #1ReasonToBe session. It was arranged as 6 smaller microtalks, filling up its hour long time slot to the brim with interesting, passionate, and emotional personal presentations from the panelists about women and diversity in gaming.
The speakers were Brenda Romero (Wizardry, Loot Drop), Robin Hunicke (thatgamecompany, Funomena), Kim McAuliffe (Microsoft Game Studios), Elizabeth Sampat (Storm8), Leigh Alexander (game journalist) and our own Mattie Brice (game critic, student). Each one took the time to talk about their experiences in and around the game industry. The best summary of the session that I’ve found was by VentureBeat, but if anyone has the liveblog or slides from the presentation please share them in the comments.
I just want to comment about the session from an experience perspective. First off, anyone who has been to a diversity-related talk in previous GDCs is probably familiar with the small room in the corner that they normally occupy. This session, on the contrary, was in a large room that was mostly full. And instead of being two rows of people who all know each other, the session will packed with a variety of new people outside the feminist gaming criticism circle including many men. The talk generated a standing ovation to the speakers, along with a healthy amount of tears from many in the crowd (including me). It was phenomenal. The electricity in the room, the excitement, the positive outlook that everyone had about where our precious industry could end up — it was all infectious in the best way possible.
I asked a question through tears at the end of the panel. I wanted to know what we could do on The Border House to focus less on the negative and start motivating the kind of inspiration that I felt after attending the panel. There were some great answers, such as Robin suggesting that we start doing more highlights of women in the game industry — interviews and articles about them so that others can see that there are people like them out there. I’m interested in any other ideas that our readers have, so please leave them in the comments.
We talked. After the panel, we ended up getting booted out of the room where conversations were popping up organically all over. We moved to the hallway where the chitchatting continued until long after the session was done. Information and business cards were exchanged, ideas were generated, hope was prominent. It was a beautiful moment and the highlight of this year’s GDC for me. I felt a solidarity, a moment where it felt like we could all accomplish great change if we work together.
I was so incredibly happy with the support that The Border House received at the conference. I can’t even count the number of people who came up and told me how important The Border House was to them, to their work, to their inspiration. It really puts everything in perspective and makes me want to be able to commit even more to this site and its growth. I am so fortunate that this little site has grown to something that real people actually read and subscribe to and appreciate, and I love that the extremely important voices that we host here have a place to be heard. I want every single woman in games to have the same feeling that I had after the #1ReasonToBe panel. We’d all be unstoppable. I hope to create content for The Border House that captures at least a little bit of the passion and hope that this fantastic panel did. Thank you to everyone who came up and talked to me and shared their stories and their enthusiasm for the site: it truly helps.