Being at the Game Devs of Color Expo feels different than being at other gaming conventions. It’s looser, less focused on networking. When you talk to developers about their games, they’re less interested in making a pitch than wanting to know how you feel. It’s also looks different. White people are the minority. Here, the rooms are full of black and brown people who are making games. Omar Dabbous, audio engineer on Boyfriend Dungeon, was at the con and sounded pleasantly surprised as he said, “This is probably the most diverse group of game devs I’ve ever seen.”
This is the third year of the GDoC Expo, and its largest yet. For one sweltering day at the Schomberg Center for Research In Black Culture, a beautiful library and museum in Harlem, New York, game makers and players mingled, played games and listened to talks. Outside, the summer heat brought sweat mixing unpleasantly with the smells coming off a nearby halal truck. A man selling Italian ices would sometimes drift by, yelling, “Icy man! One dollar, two dollar!” at the con attendees getting some air. Sunshine gleamed through the windows as you checked into the event, the building somehow just as sunny inside as out. The first floor of this year’s conference was a crush of bodies. Below was a more spacious basement filled with games and a mezzanine above where attendees could watch the gaming below. The organizers offered free snacks—chips and bottles of Soylent.