Gen Con 2016 has just announced their list of invited “Industry Insiders,” which refers to a group of 25 Featured Presenters as well as the Industry Insider Guest of Honor, who is Michael Pondsmith. For the first time this year, the Indianapolis-based RPG convention has achieved gender parity in this list of invited Industry Insiders, which will include 13 women and 12 men. If you include the Industry Insider Guest of Honor in that list as well, that would bring the parity up to 50/50.
The main reason why this is notable is because it marks a striking change in comparison to previous Industry Insider lineups at Gen Con. Game producer Jessica Price, who will appear as one of the Industry Insiders this year, wrote in her post about the announcement: “Five years ago, the ratio of women to men in the Insiders was 1:16 (6.25%). Two years ago, it was 4 out of 25 (16%) … Does this magically fix all of tabletop gaming’s misogyny problems? No. But women being recognized as gaming authorities, our work being highlighted, our input being sought, and just our presence in equal numbers with men helps.”
Readers may recall that last year we covered Gen Con’s “Writing Women-Friendly Comics” panel, which originally had an all-male lineup of speakers. Gen Con added women speakers to the panel in response to this criticism, but unfortunately, the resulting panel was still not as much of a success as hoped. According to several attendees who sent us their perspectives, the panel’s moderator Bill Willingham didn’t seem interested in engaging with the panel’s topic.
Gen Con’s staff has clearly heard the criticisms levied at them from their attendees on this issue, and they’ve chosen to respond by diversifying their lineup of invited guests, which will almost certainly result in more well-rounded, valuable programming. As Price also notes in her post, however, the lineup of panelists still appears to be largely dominated by white people. It’s great to see that Gen Con is moving towards a more inclusive lineup of speakers and guests, and we can only hope that they’ll continue to expand that network further to include even more people with other perspectives and backgrounds to include next year.
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