The conference, sponsored by UBM Tech Game Network last year added a new “advocacy track” of panel discussions about wider social issues, to stimulate discussions about how developers can influence and change the community and culture of both games and the $93 billion industry that creates them and make it more diverse.
“The goal of GDC is to help developers make better games,” said GDC General Manager Meggan Scavio. “Making games more acceptable to everyone is also a way to make better games. How do you make minorities want to play games more?”
“It’s really important to think about how the games we play influence and reflect our culture,” said Ashly Burch, a game voice actor who will host the panel along with author Rosalind Wiseman. “Games are a huge opportunity to change how both boys and girls are socialized.”
One panel will discuss how to “subversively queer your work” – advice for game developers on how to, in small steps, start adding queer characters and content to games, such as gender-neutral characters. We’re not content with this kind of world where there are mainstream games and then queer independent games,” said Samantha Allen, a panelist and Emory University gender and sexuality researcher. “We want to deliver a message that mainstream developers can take and say, ‘Why can’t we make a supporting character that’s LGBT?’
The inclusion of such topics at the weeklong conference is an indication of how the gaming industry – and its players – are changing.
“Our panel’s mere presence at the GDC says a lot,” said Todd Harper, a scholar at MIT’s game lab speaking on the panel on making games more queer. “I feel like before the advocacy tack started, our panel wouldn’t have made it into GDC.”
Supporting LGBT characters? How about LEAD LGBT characters?