I have always been a gamer. A truth that so many people have questioned over the years, and I will never understand why. I spent so much of my childhood playing the commodore 64, Atari, Sega Mega Drive, PC, multiple Gameboys and hand held gaming devices. My knowledge, passion and love for the hobby has never dimmed over the years, regardless of if the people around me shared the same passion. For me gaming has always been a way of escaping, experiencing new and exciting worlds, challenging myself to think a completely different way and allowing me to be anybody I want to be. Without it I would not be who am today and I certainly would not be living the life I lead now.
It wasn’t until my first relationship was I exposed to the world of online gaming. I was introduced to the dynamics of FPS and Halo was fast becoming one of my all-time favourite games. I would spend so much of my time playing multiplayer online with friends and hosting weekend console LANs, my exposure to the online gaming world was fast becoming one of the most positive experiences I had had. Unfortunately this would not last when I eventually started playing a lot of online PVP with people outside my friends circle. My character was pink, named Rainbow Donut and it was obvious I wasn’t male. I would get called horrible names, kicked off teams and abused until eventually unless I was playing with friends I wouldn’t bother playing online at all. It wasn’t about the fact I was female and didn’t belong there, it was placing blame on the fact I may not have been as good as everyone else because I was female. It made for a much less enjoyable gaming experience, I wasn’t there to be the best, I was there because I enjoyed playing. I didn’t game online again for a number of years. I was happy separating myself from a negative environment where I was made to feel inadequate and did all my gaming offline. That was until I discovered the world of AVCon.
2011 was a massive game changer, a colleague who was involved with volunteering at AVCon invited me to their ‘Theme Launch’ where I met a number of people involved with running AVCon behind the scenes. I had absolutely no idea how important this exposure to the AVCon community would be to me 3 years down the track. I was beyond excited when a friend of mine accompanied me to my very first official AVCon, I did my hair like Sailor moon and spent an entire two days walking around the Convention Center completely in awe of what I was seeing and experiencing. I felt at home, and like I was surrounded by people who shared my passions.
“I began playing destiny with some of the friends I had made at AVCon and again my love for social gaming had returned”
In 2014 I decided to get back online and stop gaming on my own. I began playing destiny with some of the friends I had made at AVCon and again my love for social gaming had returned. I am unsure if it was because a number of years had passed people were less critical of female gamers, or because I was once again surrounded by friends who knew me as nothing more than someone who gamed for enjoyment, but my gender no longer felt like a hindrance. It was during this time that I met AVCons Convenor, an introduction and new friendship that resulted in the opportunity to take on the role of Venue Coordinator for the AVCon 2015 event. Over that year I was exposed to the most inner works of AVCon. I realised exactly how much work was involved with running AVCon and witnessed firsthand the love and dedication that is given by all who are involved.
After the success of the 2015 event I was presented with another opportunity, to step up and take on the role of Convenor for the 2016 event. While I was unbelievably excited for the opportunity, I was also aware of the work involved with the role. Working a paying full time job while also volunteering for AVCon full time is a hard commitment to make, especially when you are trying to ensure your life outside of it all (family, boyfriend, friends etc) is still able to function. I made a lot of sacrifices in 2015 to be able to make it work, and while it was hard I had amazing support from my family and friends. Even to the point where two of them came on board as committee members are were an integral part of the success of the 2016 event.
As I enter my third year volunteering for AVCon and my second as Convenor, I reflect on what AVCon is to me. AVCon is not about any one individual, it is an organisation built on the amazing achievements, passion and dedication of all who are involved. I feel as Convenor my main role is to help AVCon adapt to the ever-changing environment it is in, and help the other elect, committee, staff, volunteers and members implement new and exciting ideas so we can continue to grow. Our only reward is the excitement we all feel when we see AVCon come to life every year, and so many of us can take pride in knowing we were a part of making that happen. This year we celebrate out 15th birthday and look back to where AVCon started, the journey it has taken, and celebrate where we are now.
AVCon has provided me with opportunities I never dreamed I would be presented with, and a community of people who allow me to be myself and enjoy the things I love without questing the reasons behind it or assuming there is some kind of motive. I love the things I love because they are a part of who I am, I wish I could say blatant sexism in gaming has stopped, however there is still a small minority who assume that who I am is some kind of front. I hear comments and receive messages from complete strangers who question my dedication to my work, my love for gaming, and my nerdy persona in general more often then I would like to admit. However, while at times it can be upsetting, I look at the community I am involved with and realise that the small minds of a few are well outweighed by the common sense and acceptance of many.
Always do what you love. It’s your life! Live your life to please yourself not everybody else. If I had not continued to enjoy the things I am passionate about, I never would have ended up here as Convenor of an iconic event in Adelaide that so many people love and adore.