Mysteries of the Diversity Lounge: Interview with Benjamin Williams at PAX South

There has been a sort of mystery revolving around the PAX Diversity lounge project regarding what the objectives and participants are for such a group. So our very own Luis Angeles stopped by at PAX South and spoke with Benjamin Williams, organizer of the lounge — to see what it’s all about!

According to Benjamin Williams, the Diversity Lounge is established to take community groups, small indie devs, and anyone who’s related to gaming and geek culture who creates content that is for diverse communities and puts them in a place that raises visibility of their projects. All of the projects would be at the convention anyway, but they would be lost on the main floor. The diversity lounge allows these groups to stand out a bit more, and thus giving them a little helping hand.

At PAX South several projects in attendance were:

  • Northwest Press, a book publisher dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender comics and graphic novels.
  • Able Gamers, a charity foundation that aims to improve the overall quality of life for those with disabilities through the power of video games.
  • Take This project, A charity that seeks to inform our community about mental health issues, to provide education about mental disorders and mental illness prevention, and to reduce the stigma of mental illness.
  • So Much Drama Studios, a developer that creates games marketed towards girls. Currently working on the Mean Girls App (as in the movie).
  • Houston Gaymers, a queer gaming community based locally in Houston.

Obviously, by the aforementioned participants, the Diversity Lounge focuses on groups that fall outside the norm. According to Williams the goal is to assist in representing everyone who is underrepresented, disenfranchised, or who needs a leg up because they are in a disadvantaged group. They commonly focus on transgender, queer, people of color, and women in the projects.

We were also curious about the misconception that only minorities and women are allowed into the diversity lounge. Williams strongly rebuked this idea, “Anyone who wants to treat other human beings like human beings and not a jerk is welcome to join us and have a good time”.

Williams also reported that the Diversity Lounge project is designed to eventually go away, in that by raising awareness for such marginalized communities they will gain enough strength to be represented on the main floor adequately.

Want all the diverse details? Check out our full interview below!

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Nick Bayer
Written by
Greetings Nation! The name's Nick Bayer, I'm 25 and have identified as a gamer since my father brought home Commander Keen when I was 5. I currently work as a Medical Social Worker and spend all of my free time either gaming, spending time with my beautiful fiance, or gaming with my beautiful fiance. I gradated in 2013 from Grand Valley State University with a degree in Psychology, I currently am in my final semester at Grand Valley State University for a Masters in Social Work. I mainly use PC as my gaming platform of choice, primarily enjoying the genres of RPG, action-adventure, FPS, and strategy games (Including Grand Strategy!). I also play an unhealthy amount of Dota 2. My favorites include Max Payne 2, Bioshock 1, Crusader Kings 2, The Ace Combat series (4-6), and Spec Ops: The Line. My favorite games are the ones that excel at telling wonderful stories!

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