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Future PAX events adding 'Diversity Hub and Lounge'

Future PAX events in Boston, Seattle and Melbourne — and beyond — will see the addition of a new area dedicated to highlighting "diverse groups in the industry that might not necessarily get exposure otherwise," according to PAX organizers.

Saying the space is allocated for "education and awareness," rather than product promotion, Penny Arcade Expo's organizers say the addition of the "Roll for Diversity Hub and Lounge" helps promote a "safer and tolerant space at PAX."

Details on the addition to PAX events was first posted to Indie Statik, and Penny Arcade Robert Khoo confirmed to Polygon today that the plans were accurate. Here's how PAX organizer describe the new space in documents obtained by Indie Statik.

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.

Documents call the space a place "where people can come to find out about all the different diversity-related things happening in and around PAX;" "for people to learn about diversity in the gaming industry;" "to learn about diversity in general;" and "to learn about geek businesses that cater to diverse communities."

In an email, Khoo said the diversity-focused program is "something we're doing, amongst other things, for PAX East and beyond."

"Our goal was to highlight diverse groups (and organizations that represent diverse groups) in the industry that might not necessarily get exposure otherwise," Khoo said. "We have a limited number of slots, and the booths are free. In addition, since all of our content is spread out at the show rather than 'tracked,' the hub will also be a resource for people to find the diverse sessions, events, and exhibitors."

Khoo clarified that exhibitors and organizers of PAX's diversity-focused areas won't be required to have a booth in the expo hall in order to have one in the lounge.

"That clause is for larger companies that try to avoid paying for a booth on the expo hall floor by trying to get in for free here," he said. "The area is more for education and awareness (and again, organizations doing that will be given a free space for it), rather than product promotion, so although I don't see it being too large of an issue, clearly we can handle things on a case-by-case basis."

PAX organizers say they've aimed to foster "an environment where everyone can feel comfortable and welcome" — by banning "booth babes" from the expo — and that "any form of harassment, whether that's based on gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, or religion, will not be tolerated at PAX." Reports of alleged sexual harassment at previous expos and comments from the show's organizers — including the 2011 "Dickwolves" incident, which seemed contrary to PAX's guidelines for a welcoming environment — have drawn criticism from attendees and exhibitors, leading some game makers to pull out of promoting their games at PAX.

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