Different Games 2013
If you pay attention to video game culture, you know it’s often been a tough place for women, queers, and other minority groups. In the fall of 2012, I teamed up with games activist Sarah Schoemann to do something about that. The result was Different Games, a conference that united game designers, academics, journalists and fans from across North America to address issues of diversity in games culture.
Our primary concern was to throw a conference where everyone would feel safe and included. We hired consultant Tim Johnston to help us train volunteers and write an Inclusivity Statement, which has become the basis for similar statements at other conferences around the nation.
The result was a grassroots event that succeeded in creating an inclusive, welcoming atmosphere. The two-day conference, hosted by NYU Poly’s Technology, Culture and Society department, attracted over 150 attendees, with a live-stream audience ten times that size. We had over 30 speakers, including thought leaders such as Mattie Brice, Anna Anthropy, Heather Kelly, Kaho Abe, Robert Yang, Leigh Alexander, Adrienne Shaw and more. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and the few concerns raised, regarding ableism and ableist language, were voiced respectfully and addressed gracefully.
Different Games was my crash course introduction to the indie game scene. It galvanized my commitment to bridging the gap between academic discourse and the wider community of gamers. Although I stepped down after the first year to focus on my studies, the experience taught me a lot about what it takes to build an inclusive community. Different Games has since become a monument in the scene, with a highly-anticipated third annual conference in the works.
Read our press from Polygon.
“A conference about diversity, difference and inclusivity in games and culture.”