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Showing (Gay) Gamer Pride at E3

The Electronic Gaming Expo, or E3, officially begins on Tuesday, at the Los Angeles Convention Center but it unofficially begins a few days earlier. The console manufacturers and large game publishers hold press events to take advantage of the timing, and many groups, both large and small, hold networking get-togethers in various venues near the Convention Center. In fact, one of my most important tasks in preparing for E3 is in deciding which of the networking events I will attend.

I just returned from my first E3 event of the year, the 9th Annual GGP at E3, held at the Redline Food & Bar in Downtown LA. “GGP” stands for “Gay Game industry Professionals”, an informal group originally formed by Brian Ruben, Vice President of in an ad-hoc attempt to gather gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender folk attending E3 that year to go out one night together. It then turned into a mailing list and then into a Facebook Group, now comprised of over 1000 members, that serves as a professional resource for hiring game industry professionals, finding a vendor or partner company, or looking for a job.

I was invited to tonight’s gathering by Gordon Bellamy, a Harvard-educated game video game executive who served as the Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association from 2010 to 2012, and is an exuberant advocate for diversity and inclusion. It was a very well-attended and lively event, with many of my fellow straight industry colleagues in attendance as well.

Why would someone who is straight attend a LGBT professional get-together at a gay bar? Well, according to the 2014 Developer Satisfaction Study conducted by the IGDA, 79% of us think that diversity is important for the game industry, and 74% of us think that it is important at work, but only 28% of us think there actually is equal treatment for all. So, it is essential that we support all of our fellow game professionals in uniting around our common love of games.

It is vital to have a game industry that is as inclusive as the gamers for whom we develop games. More and more gamers are coming to understand and accept the value of diversity as well, and with this year’s E3 being the first that is open to the public, I can’t think of a more appropriate event to kick off E3 than this.