Indie gamers swap ideas at empowering un-conference Lost Levels
The growing interest in Lost Levels, and the issues it and other alternative conferences (like GaymerX, a San Francisco convention aimed at LGBT gamers) raise, may be having an influence on GDC. The event tends to center around technical improvements, but recently made tip-toe advancements into realms of inclusivity. This year, Brice, a noted LGBT gaming advocate, will speak at GDC in a workshop entitled "How to Subversively Queer Your Work."
GDC is making strides in including women as well. Anita Sarkeesian — famous in the gaming world for calling for better representation of women — is slated to receive an award for her "Tropes v. Women" YouTube series. But though the award is nice, mistreatment of women is still a large part of video game stories today. In the mainstream, at least, the tide is far from turning.
To that end, one indie designer is sitting out GDC this year: Anna Anthropy, designer of Dys4ia, The Hunt for the Gay Planet, and others. This year she's focusing her energy on Lost Levels. "I've been invited to give several talks at GDC and I've turned them all down," she says. "It's stressful and corporate and exclusive."
At Lost Levels this year she'll touch on shifting queer games' focus away from coming-out narratives. Though she's careful to say she doesn't speak for everyone, those in the queer community "play games not to re-experience their victimization, but to escape it," she says.
Last year she tried to encourage GDC audiences to think more about their role in equality, reading from her poem "John Romero's Wives," named for the creator of the classic shooting games Doom and Quake. It read, in part, "Had to be mistaken for a booth babe. Had to be told to stop talking about it. Had to be the indie game developer who told my friend she could give him a blowjob. Had to hate other women because you were taught to. To call us "females" like we're another species. Had to be John Romero's wives."
When we asked about the audience's reaction, Anthropy told us many women came up afterwards, telling her they were affected by her reading. The men? Not so much, she said. *
Lost Levels will be held March 20, tentatively at Yerba Buena Gardens. Check out LostLevels.net for location updates.