This year for GaymerX I did two different talks “Not just a Queer in Gaming” and “Localizing Games for a Worldwide Audience” (slides) (videos) As I gain experience I’m trying to do less panels that just focus on my own existence as a gay/women game programmer and more things on specific topics, so this con was a good step towards that goal. I think the existence panels are good for total new people. However, there are enough of a backlog where there is nothing new to say that a new person couldn’t easily find online and they don’t cause me to think and grow when writing them.
Not Just a Queer in Gaming I was invited on last minute with the famous David Gaider of BioWare fame, Wes Schneider of Pathfinder and Gordon Bellamy moderated. It was a casually moderated panel on motivations, career paths, and minimum bars for portfolios. Since GaymerX is an older crowd than something like PAX ( 18+ required ) it can focus less on school requirements. The main takeaway I had from this panel is the fairly obvious, being on a panel with famous names who have accomplished awesome stuff gets audiences to show up and is super cool.
The second panel being “Localizing Games for a Worldwide Audience” with Gordon Brown with Carbine Games, was one I had been thinking about for awhile. The idea was to get people from the typical “how to make your first game” talk to showing best practice steps for an area of game development not shown much to ship a real product. It had a secondary goal of exploring “English speaking” as an under examined privilege and bias I believe people should be more aware of. One immediate problem with this panel was scheduled for the early first slot 10AM on a Sunday at the same time as a Dragon Age panel, I’m not sure how to ensure better timeslots I believe this had but a strong negative impact on attendance. In addition, localization is inherently a niche topic, one that is so hidden people aren’t aware that they don’t know they don’t know. GaymerX is a very unique venue in that there are both a significant amount of gamer fans and developers of all levels so you can appeal to both. I was hoping this would pique the average gamers curiosity by talking about both why games from Japan were hard to bring over and teach something about how much work games were, but it didn’t quite work out that way. The good thing is that localizers themselves are very supportive of each other and we ended up having an interesting conversation with others working in various aspects of localization.
I started attempting to overcome my stage fright about 2.5 years ago and after about 6 small talks or so I no longer suffer from nervous fear of public speaking about a subject I know. Your mileage will vary but I found numbers comforting when I was first starting out on what seemed like an impossible goal of overcoming nerves. I’ll be moving onto bigger conferences next.