Why GX Australia is the ideal place to playtest your game

Why GX Australia is the ideal place to playtest your game

Australia’s first queer geek and gaming convention is being held in Sydney in February and will provide all AIE student developers with a great opportunity to playtest their game projects before a diverse audience.

“The aim of GX Australia is to provide a space for diverse geeks and gamers to come together, hang out and play some games” says Liam Esler, co-director of GX Australia.

Launched in 2013 in the United States as GaymerX, GX Australia marks the first time the event has been held outside the US. Guests arriving for the February 27-28 expo include internationally renowned developers Tim Cain (Fallout, Pillars of Eternity), Manveer Heir (Mass Effect: Andromeda) and Chris Avellone (Planescape: Torment, South Park: The Stick of Truth) while the show floor will be filled with cosplay competitions, freeplay areas, panels and a tonne of indie developers.

Liam says GX Australia is important because for many minorities, it can be difficult to feel comfortable at other gaming conventions, which are primarily marketed at 'traditional gamers'.

“GX Australia seeks to complement other gaming conventions by providing an event specifically for queer people, other minorities and their friends,” he adds. “Everyone is welcome.”

Leigh Harris is a game design teacher at AIE’s Sydney campus and the co-founder of independent developer Flat Earth Games. His studio has signed on as a sponsor of GX Australia. Additionally, the AIE backed the GX Australia Kickstarter which was successfully funded in November.

“We've been passionate advocates for greater diversity in gaming, and when GX Australia looked set to happen, it was time to put our money where our mouths were and sign up,” says Leigh.

“Minority groups historically and presently have a much harder time of it as gamers or as developers. When an event comes along, in our home town no less, which aims to support queer and diverse audiences with their very own show, how could we not be on board?”

As for the benefits of a show like GX Australia to local indie developers, Leigh and Liam both believe it’s vital for developers to secure a broad range of perspectives when it comes to feedback on their game.

“It's crucial to learn about people - particularly people who are different to you,” says Liam.

“It's important to understand how people who are different to you think, what they like, how they act. By learning more about people who are different to us, we can write better stories, make better games, and learn to market our games more effectively to people who aren't us.”

“Budding developers should know by the time they've been at AIE for even a month that testing your games is important,” says Leigh.

“Testing them in public with people you don't know is even more important. And testing them in public with an incredibly diverse range of people with all kinds of backgrounds? The most important of all. 

“Having input from the widest possible array of people will make your game better, regardless of what kind of game that is. There's simply no telling how things you might take for granted will appear to other types of people, and there's no way to find that out other than to be there and put your stuff in front of others.

“We'll continue to be vocal online about encouraging developers and students to attend and support the event, and openly ask anyone who's considering going to reach out to us if you'd like to pick our brains. We're always happy to share our knowledge and experience.”

GX Australia 2016 takes place on the weekend of February 27-28. Tickets are available now. For more info check out the official site.

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