Six diverse games, hand-picked from almost 100 applicants from across the world, were shown at PAX Australia last month, as part of the inaugural NEXT Exhibit. Covering a range of topics including mental health, sexuality, gender and more to highlight what games can do for underrepresented people in our world.
NEXT Exhibit co-creator Ally McLean spoke of the warm reception gamers of all kinds had offered to the inaugural event, saying “We’ve been blown away. People spend 45 minutes playing these games and then they turn to each other, like strangers next to them, and talk about the stories and the messages they have, and they get on Twitter and they find the developers and they follow them.”
This speaks to the power of games – creating conversations around powerful topics and making them easier to comprehend.
It may be hard to have a conversation with those close to you about mental health, though through exploring this confusion through a game like Before I Forget, it can help individuals explore their feelings in a safe and meaningful way. And when we seek to learn more about others, games such as An Aspie Life can help players understand why one person’s everyday life, might be another person’s struggle.
McLean continued, talking of the pride felt witnessing the reception of the exhibit “I’ve been doing conventions for 10 years and I’ve never seen people engage with games the way that they have this weekend in this little oasis, away from the chaos of the show floor. And to be on the main concourse and not hidden away I think is important for these games.”