Pink Party Prime has been described by more than one gaymer as their favorite part of PAX Prime. It’s a distinguished review, considering that the Pink Party is a separate entity from the multimillion dollar convention attended by upwards of 100,000 people each year.
Charlie Logan, the originator of the Pink Party, certainly never envisioned how popular the event, now in its seventh year, would become. But, whether he knew it or not, it was still a good idea, and come from a logical place: the local geeks themselves.
“A local group of gamers,” he explains, “who really only knew each other online from a Seattle gamer’s forum on the website GayGamer.net, got together at a tea shop on Capitol Hill and discussed what regular, fun, queer events we could start up in the city. There were suggestions of movie nights, trivia nights, dances, speed dating… and that’s when I started to ponder what I could bring to this nascent, queer, geeky community.”
The first Pink Party was a humble affair, with barely more than two dozen folks taking turns playing Harmonix’s newly released Rock Band 2. But the seed was planted. And the need for this kind of event was there.
“About 30 people showed up to the first one in 2009,” says Charlie of the inaugural Pink Party. “I initially thought it would just be a one-off party. But when PAX 2010 rolled around the next year, I was asked by several people where and when the next party would be. That’s when it hit me that I had created ‘a thing’.”
It’s a thing that has grown tremendously since that first party in 2009. Last year, Pink Party Prime 6 saw nearly 650 pack the dance floor and mezzanine at Seattle’s Neighbours Nightclub for a chance to geek out with other queer gamers, as well as meet the legendary Jennifer Hale.
That growth was natural, satisfying the need of gaymers, who’d built virtual relationships with each other, to spend time together in the flesh.
“People seemed to crave the chance to be with their fellow LGBTQ gamers,” Charlie confirms, “especially if they weren’t fortunate enough to get a PAX ticket for that year.”
Queer gaming events have sprung up all over the country since then, with conventions like GaymerX in the Bay Area and HavenCon in Austin, TX drawing thousands of queer gamers, geeks, and nerds through their doors over the past few years. Yes, the need was clearly there.
Between conventions like those, and PAX even adding its own Diversity Lounge to their space, it’s clear that companies and organizations that cater to gamers are taking notice of an often overlooked segment of their audience: the queer gamer.
“There’s been a refreshing increase in the amount of conversation happening around this topic,” agrees Charlie. “The GaymerX conventions have been successful inviting prominent writers and producers from A-list companies like BioWare and Gearbox, and having them meet their queer audiences face-to-face. The inclusion of more diverse characters in games, and especially handling with care how well they’re written, helps immensely, too. More of this needs to happen, from more and more studios and publishers. I think it’s an eventuality, personally. When more of your target audience believes in the rights of others, the more of a bottom line you’ll make when your company follows suit.”
This is topic that Charlie is intimately familiar with. His gaming roots run deep.
“Let’s take the Wayback Machine way back, shall we,” asks Charlie. “My first gaming console was a Mattel IntelliVision. Its competition at the time was the Atari 2600 and the ColecoVision console, which most of my friends had. I was the only IntelliVision owner that I knew of. This was back in the early ’80s, and I was around eight or nine years old.”
Charlie is the consummate nerd, though, with geek interests that are pervasive, to say the least.
“In high school, it was all about Marvel Comics,” Charlie admits. “I geeked out with my fellow misfits about creating our own comics universe populated with our own ridiculous heroes and villains. I’m ever a Star Trek and Doctor Who fanatic. I used to buy plastic models of the Enterprise and Voyager and learn painting techniques to make them look as realistic as I could.”
That’s pretty geeky, I’d say.
“Over the past two years,” he adds, “I built a full-scale Dalek that’s currently guarding my living room. My dog doesn’t seem to mind him.”
Geeky to the core, indeed. But Charlie’s gaming experiences extend outside of the console. Or, to be more accurate, extend into it, as Charlie has been a voice actor in a few games himself.
“I’ve always been a bit of a class clown,” he confesses. “in a way, it helped me make quick friends as I moved around from school to school. I enjoy creating characters and entertaining people. I have my own short story sci-fi podcast, NetherWords, which gives me the opportunity to do just that. It’s also one reason why I enjoy singing so much. When I found out that one of the members of my choir was Ellen McLain, I talked with her about how she broke into the voiceover industry. With her and her husband’s guidance and help, I’ve been fortunate to be in a few indie games so far: Ironclad Tactics, Infinifactory, and Hyper Light Drifter. I’m always on the lookout for more voice acting opportunities.”
So what, then, does the future hold for Pink Party Prime, having grown so much in only seven short years?
“I can only hope that it continues to grow in popularity,” Charlie says. “I’d love it to be a well-known fixture during PAX, or maybe even outside of PAX. There are out-of-towners who don’t even have tickets to PAX who are coming to the party, and I’d like to see many more guests from different states and countries attend. We’ve had spectacular VIP hosts, and I want to come up with even more great ways of entertaining the guests. The support we’ve gotten from ArenaNet, PopCap, and EA, as well as Wizards of the Coast has been fantastic. I hope to see more companies follow their footsteps by recognizing the importance of this wonderful demographic of geeks, and to have them support, promote, and sponsor future Pink Parties.”
It’s a long gaming history, along with some clear determination, that has helped Charlie steer Pink Party Prime into the raging success it’s become. While he may not be able to say exactly what the future holds for the Pink Party, it seem assured, at this point, that its future will only be rosy.