GaymerCon is the first gaming and geek lifestyle convention with a focus on LGBT culture. With their KickStarter raising $50,000 (you can still donate!) in less than 20 days, Geeks OUT figured we ask them some questions.
Geeks OUT: What gave you this idea?
Matt Conn: It was after helping to start up San Francisco Gaymers, and seeing just how much people who were coming to the events were getting out of it. This is a group of people that is actually way larger than we realize, but for whatever reason there hasn't been a way for them to connect or form a community. I think that for a lot of people, they have no idea that there are other "Gaymers" out there like them - there was no reason why no one had started a con up like this. It was the perfect blend of everything that defines me – I like to create communities, I love games and I love being a big dork..being a gaymer defines me :D
Geeks Out: When did you start playing video games?
Benjamin Williams: When the NES first came out back in the early 80's, my dad bought it for us for Christmas, against our mother's wishes. I've been hooked since.
Matt Conn: Like most gamers, I started early. I played my sisters NES whenever I could, and we had a really good collection considering the lack of the internet. We have Mario 1, 2 & 3, Zelda II, DUCKTALES. It was good stuff. But it was once we got our SNES that I really dove head first.
Geeks OUT: What is your dream for this event?
Matt Conn: I hope that this helps show the gaming world about the presence of LGBTQ folks in the community, and hopefully, it can help impact some change, whether that be that there are now more safe spaces for these folks to congregate, to helping to shift the dialog of the gaming communtiy towards "true inclusion". Optimally, I would love to see more gay friendly options in games, but I think that will come as we start events like GaymerCon, and these game companies can see the LGBTQ community voting with their wallets.
Benjamin Williams: Just that gaymers all over the country, and maybe the world, know that they are not alone, there are people just like them, and there is a place they can go and feel safe and welcome.
Geeks OUT: Have you had any bad online or in person gaming experiences?
Matt Conn: I challenge you to find someone who hasn't :). Hop on, say..Call of Duty and join a random room, and I guarantee you you will hear the most ignorant, hateful, sexist, racist, homophobic shit you've ever heard. I've had thankfully few death threats or people giving me a hard time due to my sexuality, but after starting GaymerCon and hearing the stories of those that have had much worse experiences in their digital existance, I know that it's still an issue.
Geeks OUT: What made you choose kickstarter?
Benjamin Williams: It makes sense because this con is all about bringing people together and building a community, so it's best to be beholden to that community and let them have a direct say in how big it is and what kind of things they want there
Matt Conn: It's about scale - what we could have done was picked a venue, lined up celebrities and events, and told everyone to check it out, and we could end up with a giant venue and bill and only 20% attendance. Conversely, we may rent a space and the support would be insane and we would have to do some expensive relocation stuff. Through Kickstarter, we can figure out the exact demand, how many people are projected to come, how many booths we're going to have, etc, and then we can make sure that we only spend the right amount of money to fit that crowd. Also, Kickstarter is a great publicity tool - raising money aside, I don't think we would have seen this much attention if we were to unveil the Con through "traditional" means/media.
Geeks OUT: Favorite game? Why?
Benjamin Williams: Katamari Damacy - It's campy, irreverent, funny, and has an infectious sense of joy about it. Also I'm a completionist, so reaching all the crazy goals and finding all the items in the game filled many many happy/infuriating hours.
Matt Conn: Well..hrm. All time would be Earthbound or Super Mario RPG or Disgaea 1. Each have special meaning to points I was at in my life..however, if I were to choose my favorite game that has LGBTQ themes, I would say... Valkyria Chronicles. Amazing amazing game, and plus your gay characters get status boosts around guys they like! :D
GaymerCon is happening August 2013. You can find out more about it on it's website here: http://gaymercon.org/