The organisers of the Penny Arcade Expos will next year be introducing ‘Diversity Hubs’ which will focus on issues relating to women, LGBTQ, people of colour, disabled people and mental health issues. The idea is to be more inclusive but is voluntary segregation the right way to go?
Website Indie Statik first posted images showing the plans, which have subsequently been confirmed to Kotaku by Penny Arcade.
The “Roll for Diversity Hub and Lounge” at PAX events in Seattle, Boston and Melbourne will be “a resource for PAX attendees to find information related to issues surrounding women, LGBTQ, people of colour, disabled people and mental health issues in gaming”.
They’ll also serve as 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”.
These areas – “a safe and welcoming environment” – would also be lounges, which apart from the main PAX events would have their own stuff like diversity-themed booths and panels.
It’s an interesting move. On the one hand, it’s a proactive step. Penny Arcade has faced its fair share of criticism over the past year, much of it stemming from the company’s poor handling of the “Dickwolves” fiasco.
On the other, it could easily be seen as marginalising these groups, creating what I’ve already seen be called a “zoo”.
“Our goal was to highlight diverse groups (and organisations that represent diverse groups) in the industry that might not necessarily get exposure otherwise”, PA’s Robert Khoo tells Kotaku. “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.”
You can read the proposal in full below.