There is an unique opportunity coming up for two of the largest gaming conventions to demonstrate their commitment to diversity.
The convention themselves.
Let me explain.
Both Origins and GenCon are, at their core, gaming conventions. As a result, their schedules are filled with many small (4-10 people) events. A vast majority of these events (e.g. games) are set up by volunteers instead of being created by a central concom. And the vast majority of people who attend these events preregister.
That means that these conventions already have a nearly-complete database of what people attend what events, without having to expend a single extra bit of work.
From this point, a skilled sociologist (and if anyone from GAMA or the GenCon board is reading, I mean a sociologist, don’t skimp here) can get some fascinating data. Presuming just knowing the attendee’s gender1, it would be fantastic to see if any of the following impact attendance rates:
- Type of game (RPG/CCG/Wargame)
- Gendered name of GM
- Franchise material or not
- Correlation with words used in the description
And that’s just for starters.
There’s an obvious reason why the game manufacturers and sponsors would like this information – they would love to know who their hard-core consumers are. But I’d challenge them (and event organizers) to consider that these (and other) variables are causative rather than reactive.
Look at the descriptions (and characteristics) of events that draw greater diversity… and see how you can incorporate those into your event to signal your own commitment to diversity.
Even if they’re already gathering this information privately, this is the sort of thing where the results (interpreted by a sociologist) would benefit the whole community when shared publicly.
1 I cannot remember offhand what demographic data both conventions directly ask for, but it is quite possible to at least code for gender using first names, which they do have.