So GX Australia’s just gone. I’m going to go through the general comparisons to other similar conventions, before I get to why it’s a good step for the Australian Gaming Scene.
It’s important to say that I think I had some expectations of what this convention was going to be like (maybe a smaller version of Supernova combined with Mardi Gras crossed with Newtown’s social scene), and it was different to that, but not in a bad way.
Can we just have everything at the Sydney Technology Park from now on? Please?
I would normally go into all the other areas before this, it was such a great space that I really want it acknowledged.
I have to admit part of it’s the Steampunk/Dieselpunk in me, but walking into the venue and seeing someone getting blacksmithing lessons amongst old gigantic machinery just set the scene perfectly. It was a stone’s throw from Redfern Train Station (unless you took the wrong exit, then apparently it was a huge walk) which is on practically every train line in Sydney.
It was a little warm, and might be a little cold in Winter, but you can fix that with extra people.
Seriously though – I am in love with this venue. Everything there now please.
To be honest, despite approximately 800 tickets being sold, the space felt fairly empty. I can’t help feeling that the inability to purchase day passes might have been a factor in this, as shelling out nearly $80 might have put off some of the more casual attendees.
That may have been an intentional decision, however, to limit attendees to people who really wanted to go, rather than people who might attend to make fun of the attendees. Speculation aside, having some breathing space in most of the areas meant that the convention almost felt like it didn’t need a Chillout Space, though it was really good to see one represented (which I’ll get to later).
I’m not sure how this impacted on the retailers however, though several told me they were happy enough with sales and things. We’ll get to that later.
There was a bit of cosplay on the floor, and decent quality, but overall not much. I’ve got to say I was a bit disappointed, but then people don’t cosplay for my benefit, only their own.
I heard a number of people saying that they were simply too hot and that they’d changed out of it, but I really felt there wasn’t that critical mass of people in costume to pull mine out of my bag even. It’s a bit disappointing, as I felt like from a scene that routinely brings you the Mardi Gras and wig styling tips, I felt like there might have been a bit more show and sparkle, but it’s a first time con.
Also, it was the weekend before Mardi Gras, so maybe people were saving their wigs to lampoon Bronwyn Bishop or something.
This was actually quite good. MC’d by Kitty Powers, with Rae Johnson (Gizmodo) in her “Diana” outfit, Eve Beauregard (Medic, etc), Dylan Zaner (8-bit Homo) and Matt Con (GaymerX US) they were all quite encouraging.
Nicholai Gondri won with a handmade Cremisius Aclassi (Dragon Age: Inquisition) outfit, with Luke coming second for a Link/Majora’s Mask’s Mailman outfit, and third place was Michaela’ with Mass Effect’s Miranda outfit. Crowd Favourite was Michael Golding playing Steven Universe who got the crowd to sing the opening theme.
For a first time convention there was quite a strong showing for the competition, and I hope that it grows next year. Kitty Powers did a great job of hosting, and hopefully se does again next year.
Honestly, the panels were why I was so interested to go to this particular convention in the first place. Indeed, it almost felt like an industry convention, and with many people hurrying between rooms, and then the main hallways being mostly empty.
The panels, while full, felt quite intimate, and so meant that it was okay to ask questions, until afterwards when I found out it was all streaming on streaming on Twitch, and I then wondered if I’d said something offensive, taken too much of someone’s time, or accidentally done something that would come accidentally back to haunt me on the internet later. I guess that felt at odds with the feeling of safe panels, but maybe they had some which were streamed and some which weren’t.
The Panellists and meet-and-greets were exceptionally high quality. My top picks (in order of appearance):
- Chris Avellone (Planescape: Torment)
- David Gaider (Beamdog/Bioware)
- Eve Beauregard
- Rae Johnson (Gizmodo)
- Jordan Raskopoulos (Insert Coin, Axis of Awesome)
- And of course the Cosplay Show/Panels
I’m going to say something which might get me into trouble, but here goes:
If you’re going to turn up to a convention, please make sure that your products, employees or..something..makes a nod towards the type of convention it is.
I only saw a handful of products with which I could make immediate parallels about queer culture, and the rest seemed like a mix of indy games, as some stuff that I was baffled wasn’t trying to exhibit at EB. It’s not that they seemed unfriendly to the convention, it’s just that their presence was a bit baffling, and even when asked “why come to this particular convention for a stall” the employee responded with “well, that’s our publisher over there”.
I guess sponsorship is definitely a form of support, but the cynical part of me suggested that the $440/$1000/$3000 price bar for the Kickstarter backers might have had someone’s marketing department performing Return On Investment calculations rather than trying to figure out if their product fit the market.
That being said, the stall-holders seem to be happy with their lot. I’m guessing the audience was more likely to buy than browse, which is a criticism that I’ve heard happens at “family friendly” events.
Elephant in the room time.
GX Coming to Australia is, in my view, a good thing. A bunch of people asked me why having a queer gaming convention is important, but it me it’s like asking why a gay bar is important to people who tend to go there. It’s a bad analogy, but it starts to get people thinking about their own objections.
Let’s start with the idea that some people don’t feel that it’s okay to be themselves in many spaces. It’s not saying that those spaces are actively unsafe, but that people feel like they have to wear a mask, or a different set of clothes, like the office compared to the beach.
Now think of the kind of crossplay that people could do at the bigger conventions, and what would they would do if they weren’t worried about having to be “family friendly”. Mystique cosplays have been banned for “nudity” for wearing mostly body paint.
This is like that, but people don’t have to pretend to be straight.
Things to remember..
Safe Spaces – I could write an entire article on this alone, and BC has touched on it in the past, but these are important things to some people. If you don’t need it, that’s cool.
Gender Pronouns – it was even on people’s passes, but trying to see that when people are moving around is tricky to read. Just make an effort.
Why Can’t We Have A Straight Convention? – Please do. I mean, I’m not sure whether it will be a success, but it might be the next big thing. Maybe you can include a Dating Sim competition in it?