Over the past year, game developers have made strides towards addressing problems with the portrayal of female video game characters. An article in TechTimes discussed one girl’s mission to change video game character bias in the industry by shaming developers who charged extra for female characters.
With this in mind, I jumped at the chance to attend Ancient City Con at the Prime Osborn Convention Center in Jacksonville, Florida on July 18, 2015 to get a first hand perspective of a female’s place at gaming events.
Walking into the building, I had two preconceived notions of what an event like Ancient City Con would be like. First, I expected to find the building filled with male attendees. Second–if I did see a female, I expected she would be sitting in a corner suffering from inhibition.
Upon entry, these notions were put to rest. I was astounded at the number of female attendees. Female attendees outnumbered male attendees by at least a 3:1 ratio and by no means were to be found sitting in a corner.
The cosplay outfits varied greatly among the female attendees, so there was not a lack of characters for these girls to portray. Cosplay outfits spanned many genres, including: Anime, Horror, Fantasy and Sci-Fi. I knew these girls really liked dressing up, but were they actual gamers?
I headed toward the room where board games were being played. The board game players were predominately male, with a few females scattered throughout the tables. The males in this room, by my judgment were 35 years of age and up. This was completely the opposite of what I had found when I first entered the convention and saw a room populated by 12-17-year-old girls. I then ventured down the hall to the video gaming room expecting to find the room just like the previous. Once again, this was not the case. There was an equal balance of both male and female players, and the males gaming in this room were to my estimation, the same age as the girls I encountered upon entry. This was fascinating; the girls in attendance were video gamers and had been accepted by their male counterparts.
My next stop was the vendor room, where I was able to see a lot of really cool stuff for sale. I met a vendor named Cari Wells, an arts and crafts seller. I asked her if this was her first year as a vendor at ACC, and she informed me that she had missed last year but had been in attendance every year previous. In response to my question about the average age of the convention’s attendees, Wells told me it was typical and that she doesn’t bring most of her high-ticket items because the attendees tend to be young in age. Another vendor, Eric Macedonia, made some really cool “Doctor Who” antennae toppers on a 3-D printer and took the time to both explain and demonstrate how a 3-D printer works.
I moved on to the creator room, which I must say was my favorite part of ACC. Even the creators were mostly female with a handful of males in the mix. I met Ashley L. Grapes, a Fletcher High science teacher and author of “Journey to Ohmani.” She described her book to me and made me aware that although her book is Sci-Fi, she uses real science and the scenarios in her book can really happen. I then moved over to Shannon Truax, owner of Bone Shaker Boxes. The Steampunk themed creations at this booth blew me away, as did the stories Truax told to accompany each box.
Overall, being both a newbie and female, I found ACC to be a great event for females of all ages to attend. The vendors, creators and attendees were kind and passionate about sharing their creations with each other.