The second annual Different Games Conference will take place from April 11-12 at New York University's newly-opened MAGNET (Media and Games Network) Center in downtown Brooklyn, the event organizers announced today.
This year's conference is a collaboration between NYU and Georgia Tech University, and will involve a diverse range of programming, from panels to hands-on workshops to a full arcade with original games.
Where last year's conference was more academic, with participants presenting formal papers and scholarly work alongside game demos and discussion groups, conference co-founder Sarah Schoemann told Polygon this year's event is more focused on game design and community building. "So while there will definitely be a healthy mixture of theory and practice, it should be a really accessible event for people who are new to this conversation about games and inclusivity, or are approaching these topics from outside academic and critical circles," she said.
"We want to provide people with a safe space to share, discuss and celebrate games that's very intentionally inclusive..."
As a conference that aims to focus on diversity, inclusivity and design, Different Games will feature sessions on mental health and differently-abled designers/design. There will also be panels ranging from queer advocacy in the games community to workshops on topics like modding. Students and developers are also invited to submit games to the conference's arcade.
"One of the things we've always been committed to with Different Games is the idea that inclusivity isn't about 'identity siloing' so we didn't plan an event that is just relevant to folks on the margins of games," Schoemann said. "That's one of the pitfalls of trying to be inclusive in a space like PAX or GDC, where you end up adding 'Special Interest Groups' or a 'Diversity Lounge'. Both are a great sign of progress, but can end up actually separating and, in effect, further marginalizing the people they are actively trying to include.
"With an event like Different Games, we are creating a program from the ground up which means that we can cover issues that appeal to everyone like mentorship, or sex in games (who isn't interested in that?) but from go we are representing a more broad range of voices than you would generally encounter in mainstream game spaces."
The event will coincide with PAX East, and co-organizer Toni Pizza says she sees Different Games as an alternative to the consumer-focused event. "We want to provide people with a safe space to share, discuss and celebrate games that's very intentionally inclusive," she said. "Since both events are the same weekend, we're going to have a session called 'Dispatches from PAX East,' where we have people from PAX EAST calling in to update us on how things are looking over there in the Diversity Lounge."