You’ve got your PAX West (formerly PAX Prime) tickets, which is already quite the achievement unlocked. You’ve earmarked your schedule with some cool-sounding panels. Maybe you’ve got a few parties on your schedule already. But finding other queer folk at PAX or hunting down LGBTQ-oriented content can be a struggle, even as PAX continues to make inroads at including more diverse content.
(A tiny voice exclaims, “It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this!”)
Here’s a list of the most queer-relevant PAX content I could find, including both panels and events at the con and parties afterwards. This is not intended to be 100% comprehensive, so if I’ve missed anything, feel free to list it in the comments below. This list is also subject to changes and updates as PAX West draws nearer. Descriptions are taken directly from PAX’s site when possible. Events that require a PAX Prime badge are marked with .
Here’s your big dose of queer PAX nerdity!
Washington State Convention Center Floor 6
A chill spot to relax, meet up with friends, and find out about numerous diversity organizations in the Northwest and beyond. Exhibitors include queer comics label Northwest Press, conventions such as GeekGirlCon, GaymerX, and OrcaCon, comic artist Jeffrey Veregge, and groups such as the Houston Gaymers, Planeswalkers for Diversity, PAX Pokemon League, Take This, Inc., Geeks OUT, AbleGamers, and I Need Diverse Games.
If you’d like to meet some of the minds behind Jetspace Magazine, this is the place to do it! We’ll have Pink Party and Superhard party information, as well as Pink Party tickets and T-shirts on sale.
Thursday, Sept 1
9PM: GarciaBellamy Presents: PAX Countdown 2016!
Fun, welcoming, geeky, mashups, games, fun again 21+ . We gather again for revelry the night before PAX. Join us. FREE admission. DJ King of Pants, GRIMECRAFT. This event is also supported by Queer Geek! Seattle and Seattle Gaymers, as well as Jetspace Magazine.
Friday, Sept 2
4:30PM – 5:30PM: Challenging Assumptions About Diversity With Data
Gaming has problems with inclusivity and diversity. While industry is working on it, discussion can generate an ideological divide. We will start to move beyond this with good, hard data, demographics, how often people have unwelcoming experiences, what impacts they have, and how people have made change. We will involve the audience to check our collective assumptions and see what quantitative empirical evidence says about diversity in gaming and about how to improve inclusivity.
Panelists: Trevor Murdock [Founder, Planeswalkers for Diversity], Tanya DePass [Founder, INeedDiverseGames], Glenn White [Director of Marketing Infrastructure, EA Games], Matt Baume [Host, Sewers of Paris Podcast], Aurora Walker [Instructor, Ladies Learning Code], Cherisse Miranda
Saturday, Sept 3
11:00AM – 12:00PM: Queering Up Misconceptions: LGBT Game Industry Life
A fun and candid discussion of LGBT life and careers in the game industry! What’s it like? What is the state of queer content in games? How do you balance identity and fitting in? What resources are available? Queer vets from all facets of the craft share their experiences from the inside!
Panelists: Gordon Bellamy [Visiting Scholar, USC], Chris Wright [CEO, Hangry Studios], Chris Millar [CEO, Funbits], Bryanna Lindsay [Environmental Artist, Volition], Daniel Lingen [Sr. Conversation Manager, EA], John Gavin Polson [Business Development, Humble Bundle]
2-3PM: Making and Promoting Non-Traditional Characters in Games
Games are finally starting to reflect their diverse players with more types of characters, scenarios, and approaches to gameplay. Whether it’s writing a one-eyed pansexual bull and his trans lieutenant; featuring non-white main characters; showcasing the female option in marketing; creating an entire cast caught in a web of gender, sexuality, and ability; acquiring unusual indie titles; or keeping the conversation going; it’s crucial. Hear from those who did it and how they’ll do it again.
Panelists: Patrick Weekes [Lead Writer, BioWare], Hilary Heskett Shapiro [Sr. Brand Manager, Bethesda Softworks], Miellyn Fitzwater Barrows [Creative Director, Gorgeous Robot], Arden Ripley [Writer / Developer, Date or Die], Steve Gee [Senior Manager, Developer Relations, Adult Swim Games], Tanya DePass [Freelance Critic and Diversity Consultant, #INeedDiverseGames
5PM-6PM: Designing and Developing Games for an Inclusive Community
The world of online gaming has created opportunities for everyone and anyone to get involved. Diversity in game design allows people to see themselves in the games they play, but also can build empathy for others by exploring new roles and experiences. Join developers from games including The Sims as they discuss their motivation and passion for creating a diverse cast of characters in their games.
Panelists: Erin “Aureylian’ Wayne [Community Manager, Twitch], Lyndsay Pearson [Senior Producer, The Sims Studio], Rachel Franklin [VP of Maxis, The Sims Studio]
6PM: Official Pink Party Prime Pre-Party
Raygun Lounge (501 E Pine St)
Capitol Hill’s annual Pink Party is always the PAX event of the season, so we are so proud to yet again be honored with hosting the official Preparty event for it, featuring guests, prizes, and even free passes to the main event itself so come on out while you’re in town and see how the other half lives.
8PM-9PM: Foreplay: Romance in Games
So what’s it like to be in the business of making gamers fall in love with characters that aren’t real? With a growing diversity of games, we have a broader spectrum of romances than ever. But what makes you fall in love with your favorite in-game paramour? Hitting the right balance of writing, artwork, voice acting and music is complicated. How do the pros do it? And what could the future hold? Come cuddle up as we turn down the lights and turn down the bed on modern, digital romance.
Panelists: Mike Laidlaw [Creative Director, BioWare], Sean Baptiste [Community Manager, Adult Swim], Miellyn Fitzwater Barrows [Writer/Creative Director, Gorgeous Robot], Judy Tyrer [Founder, 3 Turn Productions LLC], Cissy Jones [Voiceover Actor, Abrams Artists Agency], Hilary Heskett Shapiro [Sr. Brand Manager, Bethesda Softworks]
9PM: Pink Party Prime 8
Neumos (925 E Pike St)
$15 advance /21+
PINK PARTY PRIME 8 returns to Neumos on Saturday, September 3. Bring your PAX party to our party, the biggest and best queer geek party during PAX West*. All of the hottest queer gaymers, geeks, and nerds will be there. If you only come out of your parents’ basement once a year, then you’d better come out for this!
*PAX West attendance not required for admission.
Sunday, Sept 4
10:30-11:30AM: Finding Acceptance and Community in the Gaming World
We’re all very difference (race, gender, religion, sexuality, age, ability), but we’re able to join together as a community around our shared love of gaming. Join some of the leading streamers as they share their own personal stories of how they found acceptance in the gaming world and how they are working to promote safe, inclusive online communities for their fans.
Panelists: Mica Burton [Editor, Rooster Teeth], Jimmy Wong [Musician and Actor, Independent], Anne Munition [Gamer, Livestreamer and Content Creator, Independent], Lanai Gara (Ms Vixen) [Gamer and Livestreamer, Independent], Desmond Amofah (Etika) [Creator, EWNetwork]
11:30AM – 12:30PM: Don’t Pick on Loox!: Surviving Conflict & Building Community
Getting along can be hard. Online, it can feel impossible. But how do we navigate difficult interactions without fighting fire with fire? How can we have fun even when confronted with upsetting behavior? Join us as we reflect on years of research into the complex social dynamics in our game worlds and focus on concrete ideas for building more inclusive communities that can withstand the harsh winds of conflict. We’ll be using attendee experiences as examples, so bring us your stories and yourselves!
Panelists: Stacey Weber, MA, LMHCA [Psychotherapist, Face the Sea], Joshua Neal, MA, LMHC [Psychotherapist, Capitol Hill Therapy], Megan Spurr [Managing Editor, Dorkadia.com]
1PM: Being POC Online
The online world can be a hostile and unwelcome place, especially if you are a member of a minority. Many people of color feel as though they don’t have safe spaces or community, but that isn’t true. In this panel, we will talk about creating safe spaces online, the dangers of being POC online, how to navigate conflict, and how to connect to community.
Panelists: Isabella Price [Contributor, Cascadia Dread], Cristina Amaya [Associate Game Producer, WellPlayed], Stephanie Garcia [Operations Assistant, Painting & Vino], Gini McGee [Technical Director, 2Modern]
1:30PM-2:30PM: So You Think Twitch Isn’t For You? Guess Again!
So Twitch seems like it’s not for you. Is it the e-sports? The community? The moderators? Guess again. There are more pockets of positive communities than you might think. There’s a place for everyone, and anyone can join, regardless of gender, race, or any other identifier. Join us for an enlightening conversation about cultivating inclusive communities on Twitch, from encouraging a positive space to giving back with charity drives and special events.
Panelists: Anna Cail [RPG Producer, Hyper RPG], Zac Eubank [CEO, Hyper RPG], Whitney “Strix” Beltran [Strixwerks, Hyper RPG], SeriouslyClara [Twitch Broadcaster, SeriouslyClara], PaperBat [Twitch Broadcaster, Cracked Bat Games], DJ Blue PDX [Grifball Hub Commentator, Grifball Hub]
4PM-5PM: Git Gud, Ally
Ever wonder how to create and play games your way and still be an awesome ally? Is this even a thing? In this panel, we discuss the awesomeness that is our gaming community and unpack what it means to make it inclusive. What are we doing well and where do we need work? We’ll look at these questions and how it benefits everyone. To follow with a #realtalk Q&A.
Panelists: Tanya DePass [Freelance Critic / Diversity Consultant, #INeedDiverseGames], Kathryn Storm [Interaction Designer, Xbox], Bryce Johnson [Interaction Designer, Microsoft], John Porter
7PM: It Gets Better: LGBTQ in Online Gaming Communities
What role does online gameplay have with at-risk youth? With services like Twitch.tv creating diverse communities that center around online personalities, how do content creators foster safe environments where people can be themselves? Join It Gets Better Project’s Wynton Wong, Twitch.tv streamers Antony “A_Jaxx” Huertas and Travis “PsychoticFrogger” Ray, and Elevate Charity co-founder Leslie Pirritano as they discuss the role online gaming plays in bettering the LGBTQ community.
Panelists: Anthony Huertas [Streamer, It Gets Better Project], Travis Ray [Streamer, It Gets Better Project], Leslie Pirritano [Co-Founder, Elevate Charity]
9PM: SuperHard: Hi Score
Seattle Eagle Tavern (314 E Pike St)
$10 after 10pm / 21+
Drop your joystick and level up at SUPERHARD: HI SCORE, the steamiest, sexiest party during PAX WEST*. Join DJs JOEY WEBB and ROB WINTER, along with super hard XXX stars TYLER RUSH (Amp Somers) and CASS BOLTON (Cass Bolton) at the Seattle Eagle for a night of uncharted fun and some serious PVP. SUPERHARD: HI SCORE will be kinky, crazy, and no holds barred. Whether you hit up the Eagle in your best Overwatch cosplay, WOW t-shirt, or Pokemon underwear, you can be a part of it, too.
*PAX West attendance NOT required for admission.
Monday, Sept 5
12:30-1:30PM: Feminism & Gender Equality in Animations & Webcomics: Do we have lift-off yet?
Join our female entertainment panel for an in-depth conversation around progress and hurdles in today’s representation of female characters in entertainment content. Panelists from Disney, MTV and Cartoon Network host an open audience / panel discussion, addressing diversity, gender parity and more inclusive representation of female characters in animation and comics today. Moderated by Kathleen Hiraga, Founder of Pop-Post and former MTV Networks Art Director. Panel guests include Dana Terrace, Gravity Falls Animator & Disney Director, Sapphire Sandalo, Host and Animator for Pop-Post’s original series Pop Art! and 2 additional TBA guests.
2PM: Playing with Pride
What does sexuality have to do with gaming? What’s the point of LGBT game conventions? Do same-sex romance options matter? And, can gamers find love on Grindr? We’ve interviewed over 100 queer gamers across the country, capturing stories of navigating between subcultures, overcoming struggles, building communities, and changing gaming for the better. Through video highlights, meet dozens of queer gamers and find out how they play with pride in two sometimes-contradictory worlds.
Panelists: Matthew Baume [Writer, Freelance], James Morris [Producer, Freelance]
3:30PM: Video Games, Mental Health, and Disability
Video games allow players to immerse themselves in worlds they can relate to and connect with, which is why so many games include characteristics such as sexual orientation, gender identity, and race. So why is it that so many games still fail to accurately portray mental health and disabilities? Our panelists will examine the current state of mental health and disability in gaming, and how we can all do a better job at ending ableism in the gaming community.
Panelists: Whitney Bulna [LMSW, Austin Travis County Integral Care], Becky Taylor [Game Industry Consultant, Various], Craig Kaufman [Program Director, AbleGamers]