In 2004, the folks at Penny Arcade founded a convention to celebrate the world of gaming. This incredible convention is known as PAX, or the Penny Arcade Expo. Over the course of several years, the show has greatly expanded. Thousands more people started attending and PAX has been brought to cities around the world from Boston, Massachusetts to Melbourne, Australia. Now in 2022, the show is the biggest it has ever been.
With such a large attendance and fanbase, it’s important for PAX to offer a safe atmosphere for all. For years, there has been a growing focus on inclusivity at their conventions. They ensure that some bathrooms at each location are gender neutral and provide attendees with panels focused on how video games can help with anxiety, LGBT representation in gaming, and how to cultivate inclusive environments in eSports.
Now, Penny Arcade has unveiled their latest initiative to ensure that underrepresented groups have a place and a voice at PAX conventions and in the gaming community at-large. This initiative is called PAX Together. PAX Together was created to celebrate diversity because of PAX’s belief that games should be for everyone and made by anyone.
As a part of PAX Together, they’re offering what they call “PAX Together Picks.” These are a curated selection of games, events, and panels that PAX recognizes for celebrating marginalized and minority groups. A PAX Together Pick is chosen because it uplifts those of underrepresented backgrounds and experiences.
For years, PAX conventions have offered what was known as the Diversity Lounge which served as a safe and supportive space for those who want to find community and commonality with fellow gamers at PAX. Now, the Diversity Lounge is being rebranded as the PAX Together Intersection which aims to be a reflection of the intersectional identities of marginalized gamers. This is helped run by a variety of nonprofits and community groups focused on elevating underrepresented groups’ experiences in gaming culture.
This PAX Together initiative is extraordinarily important to see at conventions and in the gaming community. Gaming is supposed to be for anyone. When people have felt like outcasts or have been bullied, turning to gaming has been a safe haven. This has been the case for decades. However, there is a festering problem within the community in which some individuals want to prevent others from being a part of it. Gatekeeping in all forms is extremely harmful to individuals and communities as a whole, and it’s been unfortunately prevalent in gaming.
Hopefully this initiative on PAX’s end makes an impact on the lives of gamers looking to achieve that sense of belonging and acceptance they need. This is just a small step to mending the gatekeeping and hate-filled issues within the gaming community. Steps like this need to be made in order to make conventions and the gaming community feel more inclusive. Perhaps this is something that more conventions, whether they be for gaming, anime, science fiction, comic books, or any other nerdy hobby, should adopt in the near future.