GaymerX2 has come and gone and I wanted to record a few thoughts about my panels. All of them went really well, in particular my panels on “Creating Character: Exploring Queer Identities Though Games” and “Hiring in Games.”
While Mathew, the moderator of “Coming Out in the Game Industry,” wanted us to focus on positive and life-affirming stories, I did touch upon some of the public bigotry and speculation I faced without actually being publicly “out” as anything, but merely because I was publicly supportive of LGBT rights and feminism. I also discussed the invisibility of bisexual people, the perceptions people hold about my sexual orientation based upon the gender of my spouse, and the tendency of people to view sexual orientation in binary. Lastly, I talked about my experiences at ArenaNet and how it’s been a very welcoming place for me. I’d like to add that while my experience as a queer person in the videogame industry has generally been fine, I have experienced homophobic bigotry face-to-face at a videogame conference for professional developers. Because I live at an intersection of different identities, whatever bigotry I have faced so far has also included elements of racism and sexism—similar to what I discussed in that blog post from 2008. While the panel focused on positive experiences, the reality may be different and will be different based on the individual and their circumstances.
I quite enjoyed speaking on the “Creating Character: Exploring Queer Identities Through Games” panel. I truly was honored to have shared the stage with Carolyn, Heather, Emilia, and Josie. I was fascinated to hear how Naughty Dog approached the character of Ellie from The Last of Us. Ellie is one of the main characters in The Last of Us and the main character in the downloadable side story, The Last of Us: Left Behind. Naughty Dog’s creative director spoke to and incorporated the thoughts of queer women staff members to ensure that they portrayed Ellie and her interactions with Riley, Ellie’s best friend/girlfriend, in a realistic way in Left Behind. I had played both The Last of Us and Left Behind right before GaymerX, and that recent experience gave me a better insight into what was discussed in the panel.
For my part, I discussed Marjory Delaqua and Kasmeer Meade, two main characters in Guild Wars 2‘s Living World ongoing storyline. Marjory and Kasmeer are two women involved in a romantic relationship and they are the most visible same-sex couple in Guild Wars 2. Because of their prominent roles in the Living World, players get to interact with them on a fortnightly basis when a season is active. I discussed the incredibly positive fan reaction to these characters, what Marjory and Kasmeer have meant to some fans, and the importance of representation of diverse identities in videogames. I talked about the time that the lead writer asked me for my thoughts about a snippet of dialogue between Kasmeer and Marjory, and how cool it was that I got to provide feedback. I discussed how important Marjory is to me personally because I so rarely get to see 1) main characters who are 2) queer 3) women 4) of color who look like me (racially) in videogames. I also touched upon the sylvari playable race in Guild Wars 2, how their romantic inclinations are not limited by gender, and how powerful it is for many people that there is a canon pansexual playable race in a major videogame. What I didn’t get to discuss is that, in the world of Guild Wars 2, same-sex romance is culturally accepted and those who would denigrate or judge such pairings as morally wrong are seen as villains.
The “Hiring in Games” panel began with an in-depth presentation from our moderator, Thomas. After that, each of the panelists discussed how they got into the industry and any learnings they had based upon their experience in getting a job in the videogame industry. The presentation was well done and it had a ton of great tips, from job searching to how to best present yourself at an interview. Even though I was sitting at the front of the room as a panelist, I learned some things myself. Thomas may be reprising this panel at another upcoming convention, with me on the panelist roster, so watch this space for future updates.
GaymerX2 was a great convention all around. In terms of my panels, I was able to talk about a variety of topics, and the audience for each panel was very engaged an interested. I am glad I was able to participate in what may be the last GaymerX convention.