GaymerX Co-Creator Kayce Brown: On Being a Girl Gaymer in a Male-Dominated World
In case you haven't heard, GaymerX is the first official gathering of gay gamers (or "gaymers," as they're known) and "geeks," and it's drawing some major buzz. Co-created by Kayce Brown and Matt Conn, the event will be held August 3 and 4 in the Japan Town district of San Francisco, and is expected to attract thousands of like-minded folks.
Given the rash of homophobic language thrown around in the gaming world, the founders saw a need for gaymers to have a place to just be themselves. Met with some unexpected backlash (other gamers are calling it too exclusive), the event was created for the LGBT gaming community as a safe place to gather and share stories and love of all things geek. When the organizers raised more than $91,000, surpassing an initial asking pledge of only $25,000, with a Kickstarter campaign, it was obvious the need was even larger than anticipated.
"I seriously had no idea what to expect [from the Kickstarter initiative]. I was just hoping we'd make our goal," says GaymerX co-creator Brown. "When we did that within four days and the press started happening, we knew we were on to something. We went from thinking we'd probably be in a small venue with a small group of people to taking over Japan Town in San Francisco with a couple thousand attendees expected. So, everything has changed. Everything."
With the event date so close, The Advocate squeezed in a few questions with Brown. Below she shares her perspective on the origins of GaymerX and what it's like to be female and gay in the gaming world.
The Advocate: How did you get involved in the gaming world?
Kayce Brown: I worked in the film industry for over a decade and eventually got burnt out. I moved to SF from L.A. and ended up taking a position at a gaming company, "Booyah," working to bring on music labels/artists for a game they had just released. I eventually left there and started my own company as a strategic partnership and marketing consultant.
How did you and Matt decide to create GaymerX?
I met Matt when I was working at... "Booyah" and he was working at BandPage. We met several times for work and eventually became friends and he approached me about his idea while we were on our way to a networking event one night. My experience in gaming isn't as deep as Matt's is, but he was so passionate about creating this event and making a convention where people felt safe to be themselves. He has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know and he feels more like a brother than a business partner.
What's different about being a female in the general gaming community?
I definitely feel intimidated sometimes and if you know me, you know I'm not easily intimidated. We just want to be treated as equally as anyone else. Just because we're girls, doesn't mean we play like a girl.
Why is gender and sexuality such a strong topic in gaming?
Gaming has been a male-dominated industry for years. My hope with the message we've been working to convey and the convention is that we blur the lines of difference and everyone can feel equal.
What do you say to people that criticize the need for a gay-themed convention, saying that it's exclusive?
I would say that our tag line is "Everyone Games" which doesn't convey any sort of exclusivity. We hope that gay, straight, bi, trans, everyone attends and feels comfortable being who they are in the environment we've worked to create. I have several straight friends that are very excited to attend.
How will the convention tailor to lesbian audiences?
We've made every effort to tailor the convention in a way that it is something all audiences can enjoy. Our program has several female-focused panels and we have a very large number of women who have registered to attend.
One last question: is there any video game that really resonated with you growing up?
I'm actually dating myself here, but I loved early classic Atari games like Frogger, Ms. Pac-Man and Centipede.
GaymerX is August 3 and 4 in San Francisco.