PAX Australia has announced a new, very cool sounding showcase for this year’s gaming expo. NEXT will provide an opportunity for queer, racially diverse and otherwise underrepresented game developers to show off their creations during Melbourne Games Week.
In collaboration with PAX Australia, NEXT is being spearheaded by Ally McLean (founder of The Working Lunch, a mentorship program for women in games) and Liam Esler (co-founder of the sadly short-lived gaymer convention GX Australia). NEXT recognises that a lot of games from diverse game developers may not see the light of day for a number of reasons, including financial limitations, which in turn hurts representation in games overall. The intention behind the showcase is to support these developers, as well as “expose PAX attendees to games that they would otherwise never experience, and broaden their definition of what games can be and who can make them.”
As great as it sounds, the initiative does require funding – and to that end, organisers are now calling out for sponsors who are interested in supporting diverse game developers and making NEXT a reality.
Speaking about NEXT, McLean said: “I’ve seen first hand how powerful a presence at PAX Aus can be for independent game creators. NEXT is about providing that presence to projects of underrepresented developers who are often not afforded the financial opportunity to showcase their games to the amazing PAX Aus community. We’ve already had above and beyond support from the ReedPOP team, overwhelming interest from major media outlets and content creators, and applications from developers with powerful, beautiful games to be shown. Now we just need to find the right sponsors with an appetite to support these developers and bring these incredible games to the PAX Aus audience.”
If they receive the required funding, NEXT will feature 6 games on the PAX concourse – one of the most coveted, foot-traffic heavy locations of the convention. It will also feature two hand-picked panels to discuss all the ins and outs about representation and diversity in games.
This all sounds amazing, actively seeking to address an important issue within gaming culture – here’s hoping that they get the funding they require and deserve to make NEXT happen.