Oh wow! Is the first thing I have to say about this pop up con. Black Girl Gamers received the privilege of having a panel, Creating A Safe Space for Black Girl Gamers and Streaming Safely as a POC at Wicomicon.
Wicomicon is a one day pop-up convention which took place on Saturday April 29 on 1100 Wicomico St in Baltimore, MD. This con is comprised of local comic book shops, cosplayers from around the world and a community willing to make this happen such as The Blerd Gurl, AceBlade, Black Hereos Matter and may more.
Three Fifs Podcast doing their thing during their intro to Table Top Gaming Panel.
Walking into the con was different from any convention I’ve been to; it is in a warehouse, we took a freight elevator up. When the gates opened we are staring Wicomicon in the face! Vendors selling your typical con swag, like a Cowboy Bebop blanket which I most def scooped up. Many artists doing commissions and selling merch; the amount of money I spent, SHOOKETH! Wicomicon vendors and artists are spread between two rooms but the amount of vendors aren’t overwhelming. The place feels homely and warm. I have the time to enjoy each table and take my time to look and realize that I like certain pieces. The more I circled the room, the more things I wanted to buy. It is a pleasure and privilege to get to have these long conversations with the artists and vendors. I had a chance to speak with the gentleman involved in the Malika comic book, Roy from YouNeekStudios, that was awesome. I will be reviewing part two very soon; here’s part one.
This is truly a place to be inspired. You have experts at your disposal willing to share. Wicomicon is truly for the culture!
Black Girl Gamers Panel
Me, Jay and Akua representing on our panel.
Our panel, Creating a Safe Space For Black Girl Gamers and Streaming Safely as a POC, was a great experience not just for me but all of BGG, Jay-Ann, founder, Akua and everyone who attended.
We talked about how to enter a community like BGG, which is positively, you get what you give. We freely give advice on creating a safe space around your target audience and streams. Another thing we touched on is moderating and how to implement it to have a safer and productive time when you are streaming. We even went into detail how to stream from your console. We’ll be putting up videos soon so check back for those. Thumbstick Mafia’s podcast has all the keys on modding.
Overall it was a great panel, we are here to encourage people to be themselves, Black Girl Gamers. Don’t be ashamed, don’t hide it; be you. Feel free to watch the entire panel here.
Wicomicon, in my eyes, looked like a success. There’s no complaints, except there wasn’t a real concessions stand but upon speaking with the company that provided the refreshments he said the best they could do with a seven day notice is chips, cookies and pop or soda, depending on where you’re from.
The cosplayers, attendees and vendors really made the con. It didn’t feel like a warehouse it felt like a community gathering. This event was created with love and I’m very fortunate to have experienced it.
Can I just say, I love these one day cons. They’re not overwhelming, you don’t see the same merch and that allows me to support most of the vendors by buying something from each table. It’s easier not to get distracted by the multitude of panels. We could panels one after another and not have to rush a whole football field to get to the next. But this is just my personal opinion. WHEN I do my con it will be a one day thing, hope to see you there. Details coming in a few years!
Like all Kingdom Hearts fans, I’m impatiently waiting for the drop date (because 2018 isn’t enough…I have to plan financially…I mean…SPYRO). The trailer is sick, citing new worlds from Toy Story and Monsters Inc. Also, can we talk about Ariel?
I decided to go back to the basics and play the original KH on PS2 in order to prepare myself, and because nostalgia always gets the best of me…and honestly? IT WAS SO REFRESHING.
This article started as a review of revisiting Kingdom Hearts, but what I want to talk about is the sense of peace and relaxation we experience playing an old game. Now, I can’t guarantee the same refreshing feeling if you pop Bloodborne in, but there is something to be said for revisiting games you loved as kids. I’ve seen a couple articles written about this, asking questions like “Why don’t I love video games anymore?” or “How do I become reinterested in gaming?”.
When we experience problems or frustrations in daily life, we’re often told to go back to the root. We want to start over. We want the basics. Why not the same for gaming? This is the idea behind remakes, and why there is such a mad rush in preorders when we read things like “Spyro triology” and “Final Fantasy 7” (ha).
Keeping that in mind, I thought I’d put together a list of some cool nostalgia inducing game things. Spend safely, ya’ll.
Spyro controllers by Kustom Kontrollerz
Kustom Kontrollerz does exactly what their name says, controller customization. With the release of the remastered Spyro, what gift could be better? The ones in the article are mock-ups, but you can place orders through the companies twitter!
More information can be found at: https://goo.gl/QqEHzd
Hyperkin Smartboy for Android
I find this extremely exciting (minus the fact that I’m team Apple). Emulators have always made my phone crash after a while and there is nothing worse than losing that kind of ground on Zelda…I promise you. I’ve seen a couple complaints about the product being excessive, but it’s more about the feeling of popping in a cartridge and playing than anything.
These can be found at: https://goo.gl/DhrRAz
Syberia for Nintendo Switch
I spent HOURS playing this as a kid. My binge only ended after I’d ripped my laptop out of the wall carelessly…(I know). I’ve seen pretty positive reviews about the switch, so if fun puzzle games are your thing, you’ve got a good deal with this.
It can be found at: https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/syberia-switch
Look, we all know these are more technical furbies and will bring about the end of the world. But how FUN was it to try to keep an ugly little pixelated balloon alien alive? Order one. Play it at work. Destress.
Can be found at: http://us.tamagotchifriends.com/
Hope for a new Tony Hawk
This isn’t a product. It’s more my wishful thinking. But. I would KILL to get a new Pro Skater, preferably with Darren Harper (I’m a DC girl, what can I say), and better customization. Let’s cross our fingers that Descenders works something out.
More information can be found at: https://goo.gl/fQLD5M
I wish these weren’t questions I received on a regular basis, but sadly, they are. And these are questions that I receive from all types of people, including Black men!
Similar to other industries, in the gaming world, Black girl gamers often get overlooked and cast into the some of the deepest and darkest dungeons of the gaming community. So I’m making it my personal goal to shine the biggest and brightest light I can find on all of my fellow Black girl gamers. I’m talking end-of-Kingdom Hearts 2 “Door to Light” levels of brightness. I want the whole world to see us and know that we do, in fact, exist. And I also want them to know that we can play any game we want to, and sometimes, better than your faves!
NBA 2K.Call of Duty. Final Fantasy. The Sims. Overwatch.
You name it, Black girl gamers are playing it, and they are playing it well, or not so well, and that’s fine too! A quick visit over to Twitch or YouTube will confirm this to be a fact, and a quick Google search will also disprove some of your preconceived notions about Black girl gamers. There are plenty of communities out there for Black girl gamers, and I’m going to talk about a couple of them in this article.
The first community I’d like to talk about is Black Girl Gamers, the platform on which I am currently writing this article. Black Girl Gamers was started by Jay-Ann Lopez in an effort to create a safe space for Black girls who loved video games. Often feeling left out in the gaming community, a community she loved very much, Lopez created Black Girl Gamers to connect with more gamers who looked like her and could understand where she was coming from.
The Internet is full of trolls, and Black girl gamers are no stranger to this fact. Not only are we thrown sexist slurs, but we’re also thrown racist ones as well. So we’re stuck in a constant limbo as we try to navigate the gaming community as a double (sometimes more!) minority.
Video game companies are changing and trying to make their markets more “diverse,” but that is also something that Lopez in wary of, as she fears a lot of them are only out for the money. And she isn’t wrong.
With a community like Black Girl Gamers, Black girls can feel safe and unexploited. They can be sure that they are constantly amongst friends and feel comfortable and connected while participating in one of their favorite hobbies. Black Girl Gamers is makes gaming feel good!
Another community that understands the plight of the Black girl gamer is The Cookout. The Cookout was created in an effort to provide a safe space for gamers of color, LGBTQIA+ gamers, and gamers with disabilities. The creators of The Cookout saw the gross amount of underrepresentation in the gaming world for these groups of gamers and decided to create a space where they could congregate and share their love of gaming.
And not only does The Cookout game together, but members also gather in real life for meet-ups in other arenas as well, including eating out and going to the movies. They attend events together, including TwitchCon and very soon, Universal FanCon. They share kitchen creations with one another, help each other set up streams, record podcasts, and everything else one would do with members of their family, because at this point, that’s exactly what they are!
The Cookout is an awesome resource available to not only Black girl gamers, but all minority gamers! If you’re feeling lost and alone on your gaming journey, definitely give The Cookout a visit. I promise you will enjoy your stay!
The last community for Black girl gamers on my list is Black Gamers Revolution. Branding itself “as Black as gaming gets,” Black Gamers Revolution got its humble start on Tumblr. Once again, its creators wanted to create a space where Black gamers could get together and be able to relate to each other in the context of gaming.
Black Gamers Revolution often hosts community nights, featuring different games for its members to play, and they also host a number of other events to keep Black gamers connected in a world where it can sometimes be very hard us to feel welcome. Black Gamers Revolution are doing an awesome job of connecting Black gamers and helping them build a community in which they can feel safe and have fun. Check them out when you get the chance!
Although it’s still hard to be a Black girl gamer in our current gaming world, communities like the ones mentioned above are making it a lot easier to cope with this fact. All of these groups have Discords that you can join if you’re interested in meeting other gamers that look like you and making friends that will last you a lifetime. So go ahead and check them out when you get a chance. You deserve to play video games in a comfortable environment, and you deserve to have good people in your life!
Black girls deserve the world, and these communities are making sure that we get it!
Infinitii is a competitive player in the NRS scene, specializing in Mortal Kombat X and more recently Injustice 2. She mains Mileena and Catwoman with a lil bit of my girl Enchantress on the side (I suspect her relationship with Mileena is a lot more intimate than what meets the eye…) As a member of the FGC’s fiercest women’s team – The Sirens – Infinitii has been a very vocal advocate for and inspiration to women in the FGC. She is a player you can easily point to whenever doubters come out of their basements questioning women’s ability to play at a high level. Recently sponsored by Hazardous, Infinitii is going to be able to travel a lot more to attend majors this year. And, with the recent announcement of Injustice 2’s second Pro Series I look forward to seeing her take her competitive experience onto the biggest world stages. Go get em girl! @SedriaXO
A legend in the making and already made, Sonic Fox is known for his prodigious ability to play multiple fighting games at the highest level; winning many major tournaments, including EVO. Master in the Mortal Kombat and Injustice series, Skullgirls and Marvel vs Capcom Infinite, Sonic Fox is now dominating the US Dragon Ball FighterZ scene and is looking to draw blood among Japanese players. But what is so refreshing about him is how he plays his life at the highest level of himself. Self-proclaimed furry and queer black man, Sonic Fox breaks down every expectation of what a top tier competitive gamer should be like and nobody can say anything because he’s the best at what he does. I mean, he literally won a tournament in a full fox suit… Some people were freaking out but I’m celebrating: it is beyond refreshing to see some life and diversity pumped into the FGC. Seeing myself reflected in the community is part of what’s encouraged me to stick around, I love it. Keep it foxy, Fox! @SonicFox5000
Jack of all trades, Grimulus is a well-known member of the UK FGC. King of Fighters competitive player, tournament organizer, commentator, community builder and founding member of East London Fighters (ELF), Grimulus has been at the center of creating the biggest fighting game community in London as well as developing the King of Fighters community across Europe. East London Fighter’s has managed to combine the best of both worlds by being a grassroots, homegrown community alongside being leaders in UK eSports. Dominate in the UK Tekken 7 competitive scene, by hosting regular events ELF have inspired newer players to pick up their pads and grow as players. As well as being a skilled and experienced as a tournament player, Grimulus also has an incredible talent in making new players feel at home in the FGC and bringing different fighting game communities together under a shared love of the genre. So much respect, more of this please! @Lord_Grimulus
Palushina blew up the internet when she won her first Street Fighter 5 (SFV) tournament at the start of this year: bagging herself a perfect and not dropping a single set the whole tournament. Most of twitter was jubilant about her amazing performance but there was a small element of the guttersphere that was surprised a female could slay at a competitive level. I know – it’s like we’re still living in 1950s and your uncle Bobby is rocking that that horrendous Jheri Curl… Sigh. But, she has once again proved she is riding with the best by finishing 3rd in SFV and 7th in Tekken 7 at Michigan Masters. Palushina and her Menat are going from strength to strength and putting in work at multiple tournaments. I see those resets girl! It’s so inspiring to see how Palushina’s confidence is growing at every tournament, and confidence is exactly what makes a player dangerous so watch out boys, she is going to be a real threat this year! @Palushina
Dragon Ball FighterZ came out on January 26th and ever since then I’ve been grinding the hell out of it. Everything about the game captivates me: the colourful graphics and sharp animations, the depth of the mechanics and philosophies of team strategy. I’ve spent the past two months learning the slickest combos, trickiest mix ups and tightest block strings so when I saw that the new Red Bull Gaming Sphere was opening up in Shoreditch, I saw my first real opportunity to test myself. I put on my newest, freshest Nike Air Max and headed right into the heart of gentrification capital.
The fighting game community in the UK has always been a diverse group. The genre grew up in the arcades, the arcades used to be everywhere in working class communities and London’s working class communities are as diverse as they get. But I knew that when I rocked up to this newer, cleaner more corporate venue I was probably going to be one of a handful of other girl gamers there. In fact, I was the only girl gamer competing in my event out of 62 participants and as far as I could tell the only black girl gamer in the venue. So when I was asked to play my first match on stream, against a fairly confident looking bloke and what felt like the entire venue crowded around my set up… yeah, nerves doesn’t describe it.
But before that let’s take a little detour into the relationship the fighting game community (FGC) has with women. As you’d expect, it’s complicated. On the one had there is a growing number of women in the FGC making waves; big tsunami, run-for-your-life-massive-threat-incoming kind of waves. Yohosie, Infinitii, Palushina, Tanukana, Romanova and many more amazing players and community contributors are joining the ranks of classic legends like Ricki Ortiz, Gllty, Kayane and others. It’s fair to say the increasing respect and recognition women are getting in the FGC is palpable.
But, on the other hand, there have been recent scandals involving powerful and popular men in the FGC abusing and exploiting women and people actively covering things up. No doubt there have been many in the past we’ll never know about. There was also the furor last year when well known figures in the NRS scene trashed The Sirens (a dope all-women’s team) for being an all-women’s team (for the purposes of validating a ridiculous argument we’ll ignore the countless all men’s “brotherhoods” that have always been a part of the FGC, without question…).
High profile players – and I mean really high profile, EVO top 8 and sponsored – have made disparaging comments about black girl gamers being “ratchet” and actually uninterested in fighting games or that a guy’s fighting game career is over when he loses to a woman in tournament.
And let’s not forget that women players are always questioned on our knowledge of the game. On whether we’re playing because we actually like and understand the game or are we playing for our boyfriends (fun fact: some of us have girlfriends, eek!). And increasingly we’re questioned on whether we’re “real” women or transgender, to the point where some players have felt pressured to share their passports on social media to prove what’s in between their legs (the answer by the way is: trans women are real women).
So, going into a competition as a woman is not just nerve wracking for the obvious reasons, but there’s an added pressure to not let other women down. To not be the woman who shouldn’t have entered because she actually doesn’t have the knowledge, reactions or execution. A lot of us go into tournaments with the added anxiety of not wanting to muck up so badly that we confirm what many people in the venue and in the stream chats are probably thinking: she doesn’t have the slightest clue what she’s doing.
So back to my set. The first match was a disaster. I pressed buttons at the wrong times, blocked the wrong way, dropped combos. You could say I was playing auto-pilot but even auto-pilot flopped: I was just not on course. This loss caused my nerves to shoot right up, my hands were shaking on my arcade stick, I was legit shaking all over and I found it difficult to focus. As someone who’s made speeches and done talks to audiences of hundreds of people I did not expect this level or nerves playing a video game.
Thanks to some stellar advice from Captain Reckless, C4IQ and A F0xy Grampa (thanks boys!) I managed to collect myself a bit and clutched out the second game. After that I knew I could beat this guy and got into my groove, dominating the final match with all three of my characters still alive at the end. I won my first set, conquered the nerves, and made someone a lil salty: good start.
I got sent to the losers bracket the next match by a sponsored player, so I couldn’t be too hard on myself. I then eliminated two guys from the competition before being eliminated myself in round 5. But the main thing is, I didn’t go 0-2, thank the gods. In fact, I did okay for my first ever serious tournament in the second fighting game I’ve ever seriously played.
Now I have a better idea what to expect from a tournament, including, but not limited to, mental torture, the sweet and sour mix of sweat, body odour and Lynx deodorant, excruciating hunger and dehydration I feel much better prepared for my next tournament on the 28th April. Wish my opponents luck, because I’m out for blood…