Gamers are counting down the days till PAX West 2018, the annual gaming convention at the Washington State Convention Center that draws thousands for an epic, glorious weekend of the latest video games, tabletop, music, costumes and all sorts of general nerdery. Every year, despite more and more PAX events around the country, PAX West packs them in and tickets get ever scarcer.
It’s become our annual tradition at Queerspace Magazine to host a guide to queer events and panels at and around PAX West. The official schedule is comprehensive, but we have the inside scoop on how to make your PAX experience as queer and delightful as possible.
Please note we list plenty of events you do NOT have to have a PAX ticket to participate in! Of course, this list isn’t 100% comprehensive, so feel free to contact us if you think we’ve missed anything. The list is subject to changes and updates. Descriptions are taken directly from PAX’s site or event pages whenever possible.
Queer content is emphasized in the panel
A game is featured in this panel that has queerness as a central theme (aka Life is Strange, Coming Out on Top, Gone Home)
This is a party or after-hours event. No PAX ticket required
This panel features an openly queer panelist (or more)
Inclusive content is emphasized in this panel. While queerness may be a part of that, these panels are either broader in nature, intersectional ,or feature a different diverse population (Latinx, accessibility, etc.)
Roll for Diversity Lounge
Washington State Convention Center Floor 6
This is a great meeting spot to see friends and learn about a ton of amazing diversity-focused organizations, including queer-oriented ones like indie comic publisher Northwest Press, where you can buy Pink Party tickets and meet Queerspace Magazine editor Robert Roth, as well as Geeks OUT, GaymerX, and Houston Gaymers. Xbox’s Gaming for Everyone will be represented by the Xbox Ambassadors program.
Other participants include OrcaCon (their 2019 convention features queerness in games!), AbleGamers, GeekGirlCon, Planeswalkers for Diversity, Take This, I Need Diverse Games, Lady Planeswalker Society, Toronto Gaymers and PAX Pokemon League.
The Indie MEGABOOTH is a popular PAX hangout featuring all sorts of indie games. In particular, two titles are featured that are notably queer:
Get in the Car, Loser! is an RPG about a gay road trip to fight an ancient evil that’s reemerged after 1000 years, featuring a visual novel-inspired dialogue mechanics, a complex fusion of modern and classic RPG combat and even more complex lesbian feelings. By the creator of Analogue: A Hate Story and Ladykiller in a Bind.
Romance your swords! Capture the hearts of weapons to level them up in this “shack-and-slash” dungeon crawling adventure. For your summer job, you’re tasked with clearing the creatures in “the dunj”. Soon you discover the weapons you find transform into cuties… and they’re SINGLE! Spend the cash you earn on romantic outings to forge precious moments with your lovers and work together to clear the rampant monster infestations, because after all, a couple that slays together, stays together. This game features contributions from a queer, diverse team.
Kremwerk (1809 Minor Ave)
21+ / $13-$25
Dungeons & Dragons live! For one night only, the d20 Dames and Dungeons & Drag Queens roll the dice and improvise their way through two original adventures, played onstage before a live audience! It’s a night of real D&D — challenging encounters, thrilling combat, and hilarious misadventure.
Come to one or both of these interconnected shows, with discount double-feature tickets available! We’ll have a fantasy-themed photo booth on the patio between shows, so dress to impress or come in costume to get your picture taken with the casts of your favorite D&D podcasts.
If you’re into role-play, join us for a night of dice rolls, death drops, and drink specials to die for! Doors open at 6pm, with the d20 Dames show starting at 7. The Dungeons & Drag Queens show starts at 9:30pm.
9PM: PAX Countdown 2018
Neighbours Nightclub & Lounge (1509 Broadway)
21+ / Free
Join us for the 4th annual and largest night before PAX party, and dance away to some geeky tunes. Thank you for your continued support of the Gay Gaming Professionals and we look forward to seeing YOU! on Thursday
The creators of the AGE System, Bluebeard’s Bride, Dusk City Outlaws, Starfinder, and more of your favorite tabletop roleplaying games reveal how they brought their unique RPG experiences to life! Learn the shortcuts and pitfalls along the path to designing the RPG you always wanted!
Chris Pramas [President, Green Ronin], Strix [Narrative Designer, E-Line Media], Amanda Hamon Kunz [Managing Developer, Starfinder, Paizo Inc.], Rodney Thompson [Founder, Scratch Pad Publishing]
10:30AM: Different Strokes for Older Folks
Older ladies with a passion for gaming! But what a diverse group we are! From roleplaying to hack-n-slash to shooters, we play them all!
Shirley Curry [Different Strokes for Older Folks], LadyMpire [Different Strokes for Older Folks], Jessa from The Jessa Channel [Different Strokes for Older Folks]
12PM: Gaming While Other
The casts of our favorite video games are getting more diverse with every release, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. Issues of character creation and representation, “historical accuracy,” and the “brown = bad” trope still abound, leaving entire demographics of gamers feeling lost and excluded. How can we fix that and make gaming inclusive and accessible for gamers of all backgrounds?
JC Lau [Test Engineer, Bungie], Tanya DePass [Director, I Need Diverse Games], Hadeel Al-Massari [Writer / Programmer, Freelance], Sean Finnegan [Producer, IGN], Andrien Gbinigie [Product Marketing Manager, Ubisoft]
Join writer Christian Divine and key figures from the Life is Strange 2 development team as they take you behind the scenes of their most ambitious game in the series to date. Discover how they apply the core concepts of the Life is Strange franchise to bring the relatable characters and realistic environments in the Life is Strange Universe to life. Learn how they tackle the challenges of telling a branching story within an evolving episodic narrative adventure.
It’s way more than just roleplaying with a camera! Join veteran Twitch broadcasters for a discussion of what it takes to stream successful tabletop content. Learn about games that work, habits to break, and how to give RPG fans something they’ve never seen before!
Anna Geeks [CEO, Geek Space TV], RandomTuesday [Content Creator, Geek Space TV], Strix [Narrative Designer, E-Line Media], Tanya DePass [Director, I Need Diverse Games], Jessica Ross [Writer / Game Master, Bitch Team Alpha], Stephanie Cheung [Content Creator, Geek Space TV]
4:30PM: Cosplay Makeup 101
Come learn about the basics of cosplay makeup and pick the brains of professional makeup artists and cosplayers from the Pacific Northwest. Learn about local sources for professional-grade and performance-quality makeup that can help elevate your character and make your experience in cosplay all that much more enjoyable. We love your favorite video game characters as much as you do, and we’re here to help you create your best possible version of them.
Jon Barber [Lead Makeup Artist, PNTA], Thadayus Wilson [Makeup Artist, PNTA], Starla Isbey [Makeup Artist, PNTA], Ben Seagren [Makeup Artist / Photographer, PNTA], Chandler Darling [Cosplayer, PNTA], Perzephone Cosplay [Cosplayer, PNTA]
Kremwerk (1809 Minor Ave)
Kremwerk proudly presents a video game-themed drag show, just in time for PAX weekend, where all performers will be doing numbers inspired by all things Nintendo, Sega, Atari, and beyond! Hosted by Cookie Couture. Featured performers: Americano, Beau Degas, Jade Dynasty, Kylie Mooncakes, and Michete.
Get ready to jam, rock out, and… boogie? Do people still boogie? While you’re at the Friday Night Concerts, if we were to ask you to boogie, would you know what we meant? Well, anyway, we hope you’ll boogie (or whichever interpretive dance you feel the most comfortable doing) to a great night of musical acts.
Overwatch, Marvel, Harry Potter, Supernatural… gaming and pop culture fandoms unite people from all walks of life and ability. Fandom communities can use their united voices and strength in numbers to champion a wide variety of causes. Join representatives from several non-profit organizations and hear their thoughts on leveraging the power of fandom for social giving.
Kristin Lindsay [Outreach Manager, Random Acts], Rachel Miner [Executive Director, Random Acts], Erick Blandin [Program Director, Child’s Play], Chase Masterson [Founder, Pop Culture Hero Coalition], Charlie Capen [Vice President, GISH]
Broadcasting games, creative work, cosplay, tabletop games, and other hobbies can be fun, but it can also be perilous for some of us. This panel will bring you some tips and tricks such as using bots, human mods, and other methods to make your experience as stress-free as possible.
Tanya Colleen DePass (cypheroftyr) [Founder / Director, I Need Diverse Games], Emily Rose [Staff, Twitch], Anna Geeks [CEO, Geek Space TV], Alex Abou Karam [Engagement Manager, Roll20], Jermaine [Streamer, Twitch]
Escape To The City: Super Sonic 90s J-Fashion Juicebox Jam, a queer sonic renegade chiptune rave + j-fashion meetup. You do not need a PAX badge to attend. this is a free show, all ages welcome! Everyone knows Sonic is extremely gay, soooo we thought our fellow pax-goers would want to celebrate that fact with an ALL-IN NO HOLDING BACK renegade rave and j-fashion meet!
Have you found a community that understands you better than people IRL through games? Have you played a game that helped with anxiety? Has an experience in a game worsened your depression? Our panelists will explore how games, the gaming community, and working in the gaming industry can help and hurt mental health issues.
Tifa Robles [Founder, Lady Planeswalkers Society], Yakaru Dezaki [Senior Software Development Manager, Amazon Game Studios], Robert J Schuster [Game Designer (Magic R&D), Wizards of the Coast], Jimmy Chi [Support Operations Lead and Punmaster, Humble Bundle], Liz Leo [Creative Director, RE/MAX Northwest], Kyle Kinkade [Founder, Monocle Society]
The Latinx community is filled with a strong, vibrant, and colorful culture that is reflected by the diversity of our roles spread all over the gaming industry. We’re fostering a community where Latinx can meet, exchange ideas, and grow.
You don’t have to be fully fluent in Spanish or raised completely Hispanic to be included here. We want to share our cultures, our struggles, and our triumphs with the entire Latinx community and our allies, in the hope that we inspire our next generation of developers.
Juan Vaca [Narrative Designer, Endless Entertainment], Cristina Amaya [Event Planner, Discord], Elaine Gomez [Game Designer, E-Line Media], Jennifer “Narz” Vargas [Social Media Producer, The Gamer Agency], Juan Carlos Ibarra [Founder, Indie Games Mexico], Danny Peña [Founder / Co-Host, Gamertag Radio]
Back for its triumphant return, this panel is a whirlwind tour of some of the best and worst sex scenes in gaming. Developers and industry insiders do a deep dive on their favorite (or least favorite) erotic moments in gaming: what works, what doesn’t, and what larger themes they’re a part of. But in the end, the audience shall decide… is it sexy, or stupid?
Michelle Clough [Co-Founder and Chair, IGDA Romance and Sexuality SIG], Toiya K Finley [Writer / Editor / Narrative Designer, Schnoodle Media], Fred Wan [Writer, Freelance], Matt Baume [Co-Creator, Queens of Adventure], Leah Miller [Game Writer, Freelance]
9PM: Pink Party X
Neumos (925 E Pike St)
21+ / $15
It’s back, and it’s bigger and better than ever. 10 years in the making, it’s Pink Party X, presented by ArenaNet and brought to you by Queerspace Magazine and Queer Geek. Bring your PAX party to our party, the biggest and best queer geek party during PAX West. You don’t even need a PAX badge to come! All of the queer gamers, 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!
Come check out the plethora of console and arcade gaming stations in the PINK PARTY GAYMING LOUNGE, enjoy a few geek-themed featured drinks, and dance your heart out to our amazing music from DJ Krot and DJ Nome Goldie. Don’t forget to get your cosplay ready for the OFFICIAL PINK PARTY COSPLAY CONTEST, hosted by queer comic Nick Sahoyah (8-Hit Gaming, Cool Mom), where you can win cash and prizes.
A portion of the proceeds from Pink Party X will benefit Seattle’s Center for MultiCultural Health and Entre Hermanos.
In addition to getting tickets for Pink Party X online, you can also get them directly from the venue (for a lower surcharge). Just swing by The Runaway from 4pm to 2am every day.
Cosplay is a hobby driven by fan devotion to fictional characters, but how can cosplay be used as a tool to open conversations about the intersectional identities that fans have and can relate to in real life? Join us in a discussion about experiences with cosplay and identity, the ways that con spaces contextualize the experience of fandom costume communities, and the personal headspace of the cosplayer as it relates to their own lived experiences.
Morgan Thomas [Lead Concept Artist, Digital Future Lab], Robin Cruz [Lead Audio Engineer, Digital Future Lab], Miriam Creelman [Marketing Lead, Digital Future Lab]
The Xbox Adaptive Controller is the newest controller by Xbox, created to help people with limited mobility play. Larry Hryb will lead a conversation with pivotal community experts and representatives of game accessibility organizations like AbleGamers and Stack Up, along with one of the controller’s creators. We’ll describe the journey of designing the controller leveraging the input of gamers with disabilities from the start… and where we need to go next.
Craigums [Program Director, AbleGamers Charity], RoboCrouse [Director of Veteran Services, Stack Up], cherryrae [Accessibility Advocate, Independent Streamer], the_3 [PhD Candidate, University of Washington], brycej [Inclusive Lead, Microsoft], Major Nelson [Major Nelson, Xbox]
What’s it take to run an amazing tabletop RPG adventure? Just you! Leave your anxieties behind and get all your introductory RPG questions answered by the designers and game masters behind Dungeons & Dragons, Blue Rose, Critical Role’s Tal’Dorei, and more!
Jeremy Crawford [Lead Rules Designer / Managing Editor, Dungeons & Dragons, Wizards of the Coast], James J. Haeck [Lead Writer, D&D Beyond], Tanya DePass [Director, I Need Diverse Games], Jessica Ross [Writer / Game Master, Bitch Team Alpha], Gordon Bellamy [Visiting Scholar, USC]
The discussion continues again! Surely another hour surrounded by smart people will help us answer this most important question. What happens to authorship when a game goes gold? Should creators be held accountable for what happens with their game after it hits the market? A lot has happened in the past year; has our new perspective changed our minds? Join our new panel of critics and creators as we discuss and answer your questions!
Alex Zandra Van Chestein [Gamedev Everything Person], Lena Raine [Composer / Writer, Radical Dreamland], Aura “Moom” Triolo [Animator], Jeff Gerstmann [Editor-In-Chief, Giant Bomb], Undrea [Diversity Advocate / Voice Actress, AnyKey]
This encore panel brings together a new diverse group of individuals who are actively working in the indie game space to help bridge cultural gaps and create positive communities. Panelists will share personal stories on how they overcame cross-cultural challenges, both in their own backyard and across the world! Come hear fascinating stories about different cultures and learn how you can break down barriers. We promise there will be loads of laughs and free swag (limited supplies)!
Kelly Wallick [Commanding Officer, Indie MEGABOOTH], Kahlief Adams [Owner / CEO, Spawn On Me Podcast]
What’s better: Pokémon Red or Blue? Is Sonic Adventure 2 a good game? How does Bayonetta stack up against an obscure Scandinavian bathroom management simulator? These are the kinds of questions the experts at Let’s Place have set out to answer, with the help of an unimpeachable, objective(-ish) algorithm. Join our expert panel as we harness the power of science to add five more titles to our ever growing list of ranked games.
Luke Varner [Host, Audio Entropy], Chelsea Welch [Expert, Audio Entropy], Crystal Zaslavchik [Expert, Audio Entropy], Molly Rhinebeck [Expert, Audio Entropy], Ashley Lee Minor [Expert, Audio Entropy]
A fun and open discussion of LGBTQIA 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.
Gordon Bellamy [Visiting Scholar, USC], Chris Wright [Test Manager, Bungie], Dan Lingen [Social Media, Twitch], Chris Millar [CEO, FunBits], Matt Austin [CEO, MirrorBox Games], Nicole Lewis [Head of Publishing, League of Legends]
From pigeons to tanks to transforming weapons, romance and the dating simulator genre of video games has been a world of exploration and curiosity. Join our panel of (thirsty) game developers and influencers as we talk about our favorite out-of-the-norm character crushes and what the future holds for the genre.
@TheVTran [Community Developer, Kitfox Games], @verytiredkat [Video Editor, CrankGameplays], @cypheroftyr [Founder, I Need Diverse Games], @SkyWilliams [Streamer, SkyWilliams]
There is growing interest in the use of RPGs as a therapeutic vehicle, but fans have said for decades that RPGs help them become the people that they are. Why do we play the characters we choose? Is it social practice, fantasy fulfillment, or something else? Join Take This and our panel of elite RPG creators, streamers, and professionals as we discuss identity exploration through player characters.
Doctor B [Clinical Director, Take This], Kate Welch [Game Designer, Dungeons & Dragons, Wizards of the Coast], Tanya DePass [I Need Diverse Games], Megan A. Connell, PsyD, ABPP [Co-Founder, G33ks Like Us], Kris Straub [Principal, Chainsawsuit Studios]
What is it like to be a game design student? What does one learn in a game design program? Hear real stories from recent students from top programs around the country. Learn how to get into a game program, what it takes to make games, and how to take your first steps into the exciting world of game development.
Gordon Bellamy, Luke Lohden [Cal Irvine], Sara Como [Becker College], Lex Rhodes [USC], Matty Lanouette [DigiPen]
12:30PM: The Couple That Games Together
Game nights, couch co-op, board games, and video games: these couples have seen it all, played them all, and gotten through it together. Learn how to communicate with one another and solve the problems that every gaming couple goes through.
Mike Robles [Content Creator, TheMikeRobles], Tifa Robles [Founder, Lady Planeswalker Society], Kristina Horner [Producer, Microsoft], Joe Homes [Community Manager, Microsoft], Corey Clemans [Community Manager, Minecraft], Todd Tuttle [Personal Shopper, Nordstrom]
Learn how inclusive gaming benefits hospitalized children, helps patients improve function and independence in rehabilitation, and promotes quality of life to people everywhere. Whether you’re a gamer, advocate, developer, healthcare provider, philanthropist, or curious spectator, this panel will expand your perspective about the meaningfulness of inclusive gaming and provide you ways to bring inclusive gaming to everyone everywhere. When gaming is inclusive, everyone wins!
Andrew Gabanyicz [Patient Technologist, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital/GameStart School], Rob Ferguson [Neurorehab Technology Clinical Specialist, Michigan Medicine], Zach Wigal [Founder, Gamers Outreach], Cherry Thompson [Gaming Accessibility Advocate and Streamer], Greg Haynes [Lead Researcher, AbleGamers Charity]