QGCON Is A Free Two-Day Conference For LGBQT+ Gamers

The third Queerness And Games Conference takes place at UC Berkley on the 17-18th October, and sounds like it could be properly interesting.

Obviously when it comes to queer gaming conferences, the big name is GaymerX (which is also happening 11-13th December for it’s third year, and a growing success). QGCon – which I confess I’ve not seen before – looks to me to be the more academic alternative, describing itself as something that will “bring academic work on LGBTQ+ experiences and game design into conversation with activism and fandom.”

Oh, and it’s free!

“Queer game developers, players and academics are preparing to come together next month for two days of parties, workshops, talks and an indie games arcade,” say the organisers, mentioning guest developers Richard Lemarchand and Hanna Brady, and researchers Sandy Stone and Lindsay Grace. Talks will include, “gender in cosplay, the representation of affection and sex in games, and how the politics of play affect the politics of the world around us.”

Some of the talk titles remind me of why I love a good academic conference, where people have given smart thought to subjects I’ve never considered even pondering.

“Sex Appeal, Shirtless Men, and Social Justice: Diversity in Desire and Fanservice in Games” is the title of Michelle Clough’s session. “Affection Games in a World That Needs Them” is the endearing topic picked by American University’s Grace. And Swarthmore College’s Claudia Lo offers the unimprovable “Everything Is Wiped Away: Queer Temporality and the Death Drive in
Queers in Love at the End of the World”.

There will also be a QGCon Arcade, featuring Robert Yang’s Succulent, Anna Anthropy’s Be Witching, and Pierre Corbinais’ amazingly titled Til Cows Tear Us Apart.

If people can afford to, there’s a voluntary $20 ticket price, but otherwise it’s free to attend for both days, and I’m envious it’s 5,000 miles away.


  1. Dorga says:

    English terminology on matters of sexual orientation seems vaguely insulting to me: straight, as if implying that the opposite is bent, not the way it’s supposed to be, or queer, as in extravagant and disconcerting.
    To me it looks like those whose primary language is english use these words beacuse they’re the norm, without thinkig of the etyomology.

    • Kollega says:

      Well, Russians call straight people “naturals” and also don’t give a damn about the implications, so English is not that bad in that respect, I would say.

    • Bluestormzion says:

      But the etymology of a word doesn’t really matter as much as its current use and state. I have this argument against those who celebrate Christmas but not Halloween, because “Halloween is pagan” or whatever. No, Halloween IS Free Candy and Costume Day, and nothing more. Just like December 25th is no longer about drunken Romans beating their wives and having homosexual orgies, October 31st is no longer about whatever any druids did anywhere.

      The “gay community” decided a while ago that Queer was their term, with the “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” chant. Now that people are used to it, why cause more division?

      And on the topic of division… what the hell does anyone’s sexuality do with gaming? There are no Straight Games Conventions. There are merely Games Conventions. About Games. And about the attendees propensity to play games. And that’s really it. Nobody’s barred or excluded. Isn’t this just willfully setting people apart again?

      • aircool says:

        I always thought that ‘the gaming’ community was one of the most diverse communities on the planet and that it didn’t really need subdivisions.

        But it looks like others feel differently. The older I get, the more the real world begins to look like an episode of Family Guy.

        Then again, there’s nothing quite like celebrating a shared interest with like minded fellows.

        • Melonfodder says:

          I’m not sure how you can say that with a straight face, honestly. It’s still very much the domain of the white straight male, and they’re definitely ready to kick up a fuzz and throw shit at anyone who is different.

          I mean, try playing a shooter online and see how many minority targeted slurs you can collect.

          • Meneldil says:

            I played online shooters. Everybody gets taunted and insulted at some point, whether you are white, black, straight, gay, rich, poor, american, russian or french.

            This kind of convention is pathetic, at best.

          • Distec says:

            Likewise, I have trouble imagining people saying this with a straight face.

            There are issues to discuss about the civility of online gaming – and yes, that would include how this language changes depending on one’s identity – but I outright reject the notion that “white straight male gaming” has thrown up a shieldwall to fend off the invaders.

          • aircool says:

            Well, if you extend the theory that 98% of people in the world are arseholes, then that means that, whilst the gaming community is extremely diverse, there’ll still be 98 people out of 100 that are arseholes.

            It’s probably why most people on my friends list aren’t arseholes because, y’know who wants to be friends with an arsehole?

            Then again, what constitutes an arsehole is very subjective and no doubt 98% of people think I’m an arsehole.

        • apocraphyn says:

          Mm. Not a fan of segregation, personally. Why not celebrate together? Unity through video games!

          • Skabooga says:

            I feel you. It can sometimes feel like rejection when a minority group wants to organize on its own terms. Or in other cases, it reminds us that even with the advances that have been made, certain groups still don’t feel entirely accepted in the larger surrounding culture, and that can feel like failure. I know it does for me sometimes.

            On the other hand, even if and when society becomes perfectly loving and equitable to all groups of people, gatherings such as these would still serve a valuable function: keeping alive and growing the small culture such conferences and events represent. I think about an example in the United States: county fairs and Highland Games. Many rural communities hold county fairs: people gather to enjoy livestock, rides, music, food, arts and, etc. And in many of these places, many of these people attending the fair are of Scottish ancestry. Every year, they hold their own event, the Highland Games: they enjoy traditional games and sports, music, food, arts and crafts, and so on. Now, enough overlap exists between county fairs and highland games, both in attendees and in activities, that they could be feasibly joined and merged into one event. But by keeping them separate, the organizers can more fully celebrate the respective cultures each event represents.

            Or, to use another example, once Comic-Con San Diego started celebrating all of nerd culture, those who were really into comics didn’t get to celebrate their culture to the same extent, so other comic conventions started to form to address their needs.

            On the plus side, I do believe that this conference is open to all attendees, so attend it if it strikes your fancy. Or attend your local county fair, or a nearby Highland Games!

          • QSpec says:

            It’s not segregation, it’s focus.

            Unless I’m sorely mistaken, it is simply a gaming convention that seeks to simply emphasize LGBT issues.

            From their website: “GaymerX is an annual convention focused on games and gaming culture – Video Games, Tabletop Games & Card Games, and its back with GX3! We focus on creating a fun and safe space for gamers and gaymers of all identities to have fun and hang out with like minded folks. GaymerX is a “queer space”, in that many of the panels revolve around queer issues or queer devs, but GX3 is made for everyone and everyone is welcome!”

            So go if you want and have a good time.

        • onodera says:

          That’s because most people won’t be really interested in topics like this. I don’t mean they won’t be interested intellectually, but that it won’t resonate with them. Unlike women, LGBTetc people are a natural minority in gaming, so a mainstream convention won’t be able to provide enough tailored content.

      • Dorga says:

        It’s just more focused and it gives voice to matters that otherwise wouldn’t be in the spotlight, I don’t see what’s the problem there. It’s just a topic. It’s like saying there shouldn’t be a mute film festival because there already are “regular” film festivals.
        And terminology to me seems more actual than the development of festivities during thousand of years.

      • Grizzly says:

        These conferences are a good thing because gaming *is* diverse. Having different conferences who cater towards different subgroups promotes diversity because they encourage people who would otherwise stay silent to come out of the woodwork and speak in front of an accepting audience.

      • All is Well says:

        Regarding that last bit, I think you’re missing one of the key complaints leveraged by proponents of inclusivity and the like, which is that “regular” places such as institutions, markets, spaces, communities etc., that are supposedly “neutral” or “objective” or “open”, are really implicitly gendered and tailored to specific interests (that just so happen to be the interests of the straight white/western male). For example, feminists have for a good long while now argued that science, the paragon of neutrality and objectivity, is actually gendered in a lot of ways, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that gaming is subject to the same type of criticism. To put it in different terms: the (purportedly sexuality-neutral) gaming conventions are the “Straight Gaming Conventions”.

    • suibhne says:

      When you write “etymology”, I believe you mean only its narrowest, least instructive form. There’s a lot of cultural history behind those words in the US. And “queer”, incidentally, is not synonymous with “gay”, but generally refers to more gender fluidity.

      • Dorga says:

        I wasn’t implying that queer ment gay, anyway thanks for the head up, I shall delve deeper in the matter.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      Well I guess from an evolutionary standpoint it’s not how things are supposed to be since it doesn’t propagate the survival of the species. Not saying I agree with the terminology though I can understand how someone might be able to make that conclusion.

      • QSpec says:

        You’re clearly a biologist…

        link to en.wikipedia.org

      • Crane says:

        Oh, if you’re going to run the “not natural” argument, I suggest you look into the mallard duck, which has been seen to engage in homosexual necrophilia. Very good for propagating the species, that.
        But I guess animals do ‘unnatural’ things all the time, right?

    • Phasma Felis says:

      It’s kind of the opposite, really. “Queer” was originally a slur that the queer community decided to consciously reclaim. “Straight” probably comes directly from the 1960s hippie usage, where it sarcastically meant someone who was “straight and narrow,” socially acceptable, normal, everyday, humdrum, who respected authority and never did anything interesting or fun.

  2. Catchcart says:

    Hmmm those titles are pretty indecipherable – or maybe I’m just not in on temporality?

    It’s monday so how about something simple e.g. that Hearthstone females art is ridiculously sexist and semi-pornographic?

  3. aircool says:

    Sounds fabulous!

  4. Michael Fogg says:

    So it will be the same “media representation” arguments based on 50 year old research on the influence of television, from the same insular humanity departments to the same audience that fully agrees because it fits their pre-existing political beliefs. If there’s no real discussion to be had then it makes no real sense to call it a scientifical conference.

    • Grizzly says:

      Although I find it hard to grasp that having empathy towards human beings that are quite different in some way to you is considered a political belief, I will say that limiting the boundaries in which the discussion takes place only ensures that the discussion is deepened. A discussion between two geologists has no less disagreement then a discussion between a geologist and a politician, the only thing that differs is the points around which the disagreements involve.

      If anything, discussions between people that actually know what they are saying are far more interesting to follow.

    • All is Well says:

      …whereas your own open-mindedness and scientific, inquisitive nature has luckily prevented you from forming a comically ironic judgment on the topics, scientific basis, audience, audience’s beliefs and pretensions of the conference without any sort of foundation other than your own pre-conceived notions. Well done, you.

  5. RogerMellie says:

    Re the point about ‘no straight conferences why do we need queer ones?’

    I think one general answer would be to say it’ll be one of the very few times that some people will feel comfortable being who they are in a games conference.

    Which other games conference could someone go to where they could be themselves and hear very little to no negative comments?

    Straight folk have approximately every damn one, hence no need.

    • Pizzacheeks McFroogleburgher says:

      Right.. So are we talking full social segregation? Gay pavements, roads, transport? I dont get it. My brother in law is gay, we’re good pals, he doesn’t need separate anything to get by in life.. His car is gay, but not in a sexual way. It’s just a fucking gay car.

      • pepperfez says:

        It’s good that Robert Yang is out there telling gay cars’ stories.

      • GWOP says:

        It’s not segregation if a straight person can just walk into an LGBQT convention. Maybe your brother-in-law can explain it to you?

      • aircool says:

        …and you certainly don’t need to be gay to have a gay car.

      • RogerMellie says:

        No, I don’t think anyone is suggesting that. Proportional responses etc. I think people would view this as a manageable, positive step in the right direction.

        Many people would love it to not be necessary, but for the time being, I think it can contribute to improving the scene.

  6. PineMaple says:

    UC Berkeley, with three “e”s. Named after George Berkeley, the Bishop of Cloyne and a semi-prominent 18th century philosopher.

  7. onodera says:

    Sexual and romantic preference, first of all, but there’s also the question of fitting into mainstream heteronormative culture. If you’re not overtly campy, most people will assume you’re straight and will bombard you with interactions that follow that assumption. This will make you uncomfortable, but if you correct them you might make them uncomfortable. That’s why they might want to have a conference to themselves where they don’t have to worry about mismatched interactions.

    But why the scorn? I don’t plan to get married to a dude and I don’t plan to visit an LGBT conference, so my life won’t be affected by their existence at all.

    • onodera says:

      That was to be a reply to the large breasts lover, wherever his comment now is.

  8. koeklimas says:

    So for the people wondering why gays need their own game convention: if you’ve ever been to a games conventions you’d know. They are not about games so much as they are about hooking up. Soooo…

  9. vash47 says:

    I’m confused: Why is it that in the 1950s segregation was the problem but in the 2010s, the solution?

    • Eddy9000 says:

      If you don’t understand that segregation (politically and legally sanctioned restrictions on the freedom of minority groups) and minority special interest events (whereby people belonging to marginalised cultural groups meet up to share ideas in a supportive space) are completely different (clue: straight people are not legally prohibited from attending queer conferences) then you my friend are “confused” because you are thick.

      • Meneldil says:

        The only difference is that the minority decides to segregate itself from the majority. In the end, it’s just as shitty.

        • Eddy9000 says:

          Except there isn’t any segregation, just a bunch of people with a common interest sharing ideas. Anyone who is interested in gaming and issues that affect the LGBT community can go, straight people are welcome if they are interested. So no, it isn’t shitty at all, and if you honestly think it’s “just as shitty” as segregation era USA, or South african apartheid then you have absolutely no fucking clue about the world you live in.

        • aircool says:

          I’d like to see a gaming convention for people who, like myself, are colourblind. I’d say that being colourblind limits your accessibility to gaming far more than your gender and sexual orientation.

          A few developers have made an attempt to cater for colourblind gamers, but they’re still way off the mark. Adding modes for the three main types of colourblindess doesn’t really help as non of them ever seem to be much of an improvement over the standard settings.

          Why they can’t just let you choose your own damn colours for stuff is beyond me.

          But hey, no-one really gives a rat’s arse about minorities with ‘real’ barriers to gaming.

          • Eddy9000 says:

            And I would totally support a conference for disabled gamers, and amazingly I can do this without attacking a conference for queer gamers. I totally think colourblind gamers should be catered for in games where it proves a barrier (like Peggles colourblind mode) as well as wanting better representations of queer persons in games. How difficult is that to do? Not at all, which makes me wonder why you need to attack this.

            It’s also worth noting that queer cons are as much about the expression of queer issues through games rather than addressing barriers to gaming.

    • aziztcf says:

      Pretty sure they don’t have a gaydar at the gate.

      • aircool says:

        Perhaps like the gay nightclubs in Newcastle (1980’s and 1990’s) they make you kiss a person of the same gender before they let you in.

        Yeah, that was a thing. No idea if they still do that. At least it wasn’t like some ‘modern’ clubs that won’t let you in unless you have a women in your group.

    • SaintAn says:

      The convention is about LGBT stuff like a Hello Kitty con is about Hello Kitty. If you’re interested in LGBT gaming stuff then you, like everyone else, are completely free to go. It’s just like any other con. It’s not segregating, it’s just the focus of the con and you can go to them if you want. Or not go.
      I’m gay and have no interest in LGBT cons.

    • Synesthesia says:

      Because it sounds like a witty argument against the lgbt movement, probably.

    • QSpec says:

      Don’t be that guy…

      They allow everyone. It is a gaming convention that focuses on a specific topic which in this case is LGBT.

  10. Monggerel says:

    As a Strate Wyatt Mail I literally have no feelings on this matter
    Or any other
    I be The perfect nothingness into which only fiction can possibly be reduced, as matters of matter are of a foreveral nature, with or without form

  11. veerserif says:

    Based on QGCon 2014, this year’s conference will almost certainly be livestreamed as well, for those who can’t make it! Here’s their Twitch profile.

  12. yhancik says:

    Jeeee, a lot of comments here are damn depressing. Thanks to everyone who took the time to explain why this kind of event is important.

  13. MattMk1 says:

    OK, this is like my 4th or 5th attempt at this comment… Really, I guess I just don’t get it, and kind of feel like talking about it will end up accidentally offending people.

    But I guess I’ll try anyway.

    I can totally get behind trying to encourage games which present women and various minorities in mature and respectful ways, and offer a greater diversity of narratives.

    I just don’t see how talks like the ones listed above contribute anything to that goal. Instead, it seems like they cater to very small, specialized crowd that cares about the “LGBTQ” part a lot more than they do about the “gaming” part.

    Not that I expect the people organizing and participating in this to care one bit what I think…

    • veerserif says:

      Hey, so, I’m one of the presenters. I heard about it through an academic conference – one of the people in the audience had seen my talk (it’s the Queers in Love one mentioned in the article, actually) and referred me to QGCon, which I then applied to. QGCon is less of a fan/games conference, more of an academic one, but an academic conference that’s open to more people than usual. It’s about sharing our work on queerness and games, not just queerness in games. The focus of the conference is on LGBTQ-ness, however it manifests, in games. So there are developers who make queer games, and roundtables about being queer and a gamer, or trying to make queer games, or being a queer person of colour gamer etc. etc… and then you have talks like mine, where I take queer and feminist criticism, and apply it to video games.

      I don’t see anything in here that contradicts your desire to see “a greater diversity of narratives”. If anything, this is exactly what this conference is doing. It gives us a space to share these theories and stories and narratives in a place that’s appropriate for them. For example, I don’t think an academic panel would necessarily go over well at GaymerX, and my paper would certainly not get the same kind of audience at, say, PAX. QGCon offers a chance to let those of us who are doing academic work mingle with developers, fans and activists (and in fact quite a lot of us fit in more than one of those categories.)

      • Skabooga says:

        I commend the both of you for your earnest and respectful exchange with each other. I know it gets a bad rap, but the internet can be delightful at times.

        • veerserif says:

          Hah. Given that this is the academic field I’m aiming to enter, I’m treating some of the comments as preparation.

  14. Risingson says:

    Seriously, straight people: there is nothing to worry about. You are still normative and in the majority, and you can go if you want.

    And if you don’t understand the point of having a LGBQT convention, then either you don’t have LGBQT friends or you don’t listen to them enough.

  15. NephilimNexus says:

    The Catch-22: The goal of every special interest group is to make their group so accepted that they become mainstream. The problem is that once you’re mainstream you’re invisible, no one is paying attention to anymore and they wonder why you still think you deserve to have your own parade.