GX Australia describes itself as ‘a weekend-long celebration of everything gaming and geek related’, and it is definitely that. But it has also been so much more: a secret garden of nerd culture where queerness is ordinary and consent is creed.
After it’s inaugural show in February 2016, GX Australia has influenced larger conventions across the country, encouraging greater inclusiveness and increased policing against harassment, bigotry, and discrimination. But financing, organising and running a show is an enormous task, and despite many successful kickstarters, it was decided that GX Australia–held recently at the Sydney Showground on April 29 and 30–would be the last for now.
Understandably, the auditorium was filled to capacity when co-founders Liam Esler and Joshua Meadows said au revoir to the event they created and cherished for two years. Many more attendees took up any free patch of carpet space they could find, some standing on tippy-toes at the back of the hall, as a microphone was passed along melancholic but grateful hands.
Tears were shed as attendees recounted their experiences and shakily shared what GX Australia meant to them. For some, it granted them the fortitude to wear clothes of their true gender on public transport, knowing they were speeding closer towards a welcoming community of gaymers. For others, GX was the only convention in Australia where they had an uninhibited sense of freedom to be themselves, or be publicly affectionate with a partner without fear of scrutiny.
Originally an exclusively American event, GaymerX put a focus on creating a fun and safe space for gamers and gaymers of all identities to have fun and hang out with like minded folks. GX Australia championed this culture down under, and became a pioneer for inclusive gaming conventions in the country.
“We were inspired by GaymerX in the US and wanted to create GX Australia because we know how important diversity and representation is in gaming,” says co-founder Joshua Meadows. “Diverse games made by diverse people are simply better games, and we wanted GX Australia to be a springboard in encouraging the industry to be better about this.”
Its modesty was designed so attendees would feel as if they were among family rather than an endless sea of anonymous faces. The panels–highly regarded by attendees, and deemed a keystone of GX Australia–welcomed controversial topics and diverse discussions. It’s what made the convention so special–so important–and unlike anything seen before in the Australian gaming community at that scale.
It’s an importance we recognise at Surprise Attack Games.
“We’re proud to say that Surprise Attack Games has been an exhibitor at both GX Australia events, to support inclusivity in all facets of the gaming industry,” says Managing Director, Chris Wright.
This year, Surprise Attack Games showcased Dungeon League on the expo floor, and such an incredibly diverse range of fans stopped by to test their skills out at the multiplayer party game.
“GX was an amazing chance to exhibit to the queer community,” says Christopher Yabsley, creator of Dungeon League. “As my second GX it felt like catching up with old friends while also making some new ones. GX, you will be missed!”
It’s a sentiment many of us share. I felt at home attending GX Australia, but it also lit a fire in my belly. It may be GX Australia’s last year, but I know this isn’t the end. Inclusion and self-expression of sexuality and gender without fear needs to be a mandatory part of gaming culture, and society in general. Thanks to GX, I have learned a lot about myself and made lifelong friends.
GX Australia’s memory will be celebrated for many years to come, and has sowed seeds across the entire country for more people to create their own inclusive queer gaming spaces. It is an event which will be celebrated and remembered fondly.
Until we meet again, GX Australia!