A Diversity Tour of PAX East 2016

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Last weekend, video game lovers flocked to Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) East to dress up in costume, buy tons of sweet merch, and meet other players in meatspace. While diversity has become a more prevalent issue in gaming, PAX events have been notorious for their meager efforts toward creating safe spaces for people of different identities, and from an outsider’s viewpoint, PAX East 2016 seems to be a similar case.

I scoured the PAX East website for information regarding this year’s Diversity Lounge and its exhibitors, downloaded the event’s mobile app, and I still found nothing about it, save for a small brown box on the map labeled “Diversity Lounge.” In fact, I found more information about the Diversity Lounge from a picture taken with the intent to mock it than on any official online marketing materials. From what I could see, it seems that like previous years, the 2016 Diversity Lounge was a small room tucked away from the actual expo hall, featuring exhibitors that the event organizers didn’t even bother include in the app’s main list.

Frankly, I’m half convinced the Diversity Lounge was actually a swirling vortex that eliminated anything that entered it from existence. Seriously, it’s like that inexplicable mouth that sucks up Lindblum on FF9. What happened there? Did anyone make it out to tell the tale? If you did, are all of your limbs still intact?

While the PAX East organizers have yet to wow me with their efforts towards inclusion, there were plenty of panels featured that kicked off discussions related to gamers who don’t fit the typical straight, white and male mold. I have listed them here with the intent of boosting awareness of viewpoints that may have been overlooked in the face of bigger names that were better marketed.

Most of them do not have video coverage up yet, but if you see a panel that peaks your interest, I would simply search for it on YouTube, or via Google in a few weeks when everyone has had a chance to upload them. The rating that each panel received on the PAX East app is listed by its title to give you an idea of the audience’s reception to it.

Sexism in Gaming: Is Equality Attainable? (1.92/5.00 stars, 60 votes)

What Does Game Design Tell Us About Mental Illness? (4.71/5.00 stars, 14 votes) – Recapped on Gameskinny.com

Geek Cultural Identity and the Myth of the Fake Geek (3.83/5.00 stars, 12 votes) – Recapped on Gameskinny.com

How I Got Into Games Journalism (3.75/5.00 stars, 12 votes) – Recorded on YouTube

Press XY Presents: Crossplay – Cosplay and Gender Identity (3.42/5.00 stars, 12 votes)

Bad Gaming for a Good Cause (0.00/5.00 stars, 0 votes)

Diversity in Gaming: Equality for All! (2.91/5.00 stars, 23 votes)

Ethics and Video Games: Three years of “Ask an Ethicist” (3.62/5.00 stars, 8 votes)

Inner Demons: Anxiety and Depression in Gamers (4.50/5.00 stars, 8 votes)

Glory or Elitism? A Look into PC Gaming Culture (2.67/5.00 stars, 6 votes)

It’s Still Really Rad Being a Female in the Games Industry (4.00/5.00 stars, 18 votes)

If there are any events or panels related to diversity that were not featured in this list, you’re always welcome to Tweet me @LongLiveMelKing to let me know. The same principle applies for your own impressions of these panels if you were an attendee. And, as always, feel free to follow Unwinnable on Twitter and Facebook for more quality #content from the Unwinnable gang.

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