JUST FUCKING BREATH! (My reaction to PAX’s Diversity Lounge)

I won’t lie that I enjoy Penny Arcade. I mostly like the guys that create it. From what I’ve seen, it seems like most the people that work at the company are pretty cool too. Though I think I am able to separate my personal feelings when looking at an idea or a story, I’m sure some people will say my following comments are influenced by my feelings. They’re not, but there’s nothing I can say that will change anyone’s mind on that I’m sure. So let’s just get to it.

Documents were leaked that showed that all future Penny Arcade Expo events will have what is called “Roll for Diversity – Hub and Lounge.” Penny Arcade and those involved with the comic, both creators and fans, have been mostly painted as bigots by some people. Supporters of the rape culture. Intolerant of those with sexuality beyond hetero-sexuality. I think that’s grossly unfair. I am a part of the fanbase, and none of those things apply to me. I have stood up to bias, bigotry, and discrimination in my personal and professional life. And I mean I have actively stood up, as I believe your actions are the true measure of your convictions. So I want to say that all the people that speak of Penny Arcade fans as all being terrible people and intolerant, you’re honestly not being better than tiny minority of people that live up to your claims. I am personally offended.

When I saw that PAX was trending on twitter, I should have known better than to see why. Penny Arcade never trends when it’s something positive. The first thing I see is mentions of a diversity lounge. I think to myself, sounds hokey, but I should see what it is. I see that Polygon has a story about it, and since they tend to have level heads, I click on their story.

I read about PAX now having a dedicated area where groups that promote diversity and educate about the issues that some groups of fans face inside gaming can get free booth space so they can engage and educate convention attendees. The documents that leak outlines the following:

In an effort to continue to provide a safe and welcoming environment, PAX is introducing the Roll for Diversity Hub & Lounge. This space will exist as a resource for PAX attendees to find information related to issues surrounding women, LGBTQ, people of color, disabled people and mental health issues in gaming. The hub will also be a resource for industry professionals and fans to interface in a setting focused on diversity, receive diversity training, learn more about diversity and meet people from diverse communities.

Sounds like a great idea. There are some awesome groups that involve gender, orientation, and racial diversity inside the gaming community. It’s nice of PAX to offer free space inside an area dedicated to education and acceptance. I’m confused as to why this is trending and why I’m seeing people outraged over this. So instantly I think “I bet you some crazed fan said something awful, and now everyone is going crazy…”

I go back to twitter to investigate. For a moment I get more confused, then it hits me… people are upset with the idea itself. Somewhere in this whole mess, people somehow got the idea that having an area to find this education is a bad idea. Because apparently organization and collecting related content at a convention IS A BAD FUCKING IDEA. Because you know, they never put related content together at larger conventions.

Now I would understand if they were forcing every gay developer into a small room off the main floor, or if every media personality that wasn’t white was gathered up into their own little basement, but this lounge isn’t for your typical convention self-promotion. It’s a place where people are meant to easily find information from groups that are there to educate about diversity.

I then start to receive replies via twitter over my previously stated confusion. People saying that PAX is a “conference whose attendees have already made clear what they think of women, LGBT people, PoC, people with disabilities” and that it wouldn’t be a good place to try to educate people. Firstly, I think they’re wrong if they’re implying that PAX attendees as a whole are not accepting. I feel the exact opposite. I also disagree about it not being the place for such attempts at education. If you believe that this convention is filled with bigots, it seems like the perfect place to try to spread education and understanding… but… that wouldn’t help perpetuate this infinite PA hate machine.

It just seems that people are more interested in hating Penny Arcade, PAX, their creators, and their fans more than actually trying to talk about the very real issues that face the growing portion of this culture that falls outside of straight, white, male. It’s like they’re afraid that it will be successful and illustrate exactly how wrong they are.

It’s 5:30am, I should be sleeping since I have to be at work in about five hours… I should know better than to ever read anything on the internet…

Say something... I dare you.