This past weekend was RIFT‘s first player-run, in-game Pride event. It was hosted by the awesome folks of The Last Prophecy on Greybriar and thanks to solid player organization (thanks Danitsia and crew!) and RIFT‘s nifty cross-shard grouping feature, the event was a pretty damn fine (and fun) success. There were over four raid groups of parade participants and a bunch more of us who showed up fashionably late (yep– I might be talking about myself) and just kinda hopped in on a Greybriar alt and had a blast.
Contrary to what some players on the forums anticipated, the event went off without a hitch for the most part. While there were a handful of players participating in various global channels that had a few negative comments and whispers for those organizing the event, for the most part the atmosphere was entirely positive. There were quite a few players who were genuinely confused about the event and what it stood for exactly, but I’m a firm believer in the fact that Pride parades and events exist to spread awareness and community– but also knowledge. Knowledge, even in a video game, equals power. The fact that players were curious was an excellent sign.
Since this was RIFT‘s first foray into holding a player-ran Pride event, confusion and unsureness regarding the necessity of such an event kind of had to be expected. It comes with the territory, if you will. I’ll be upfront here– yes, I know this a controversial subject, but as a queer writer and gamer both, you bet I’m going to plunge right in headfirst.
Pride events and other celebrations of diversity are necessary in any healthy, thriving, and progressive community. That includes gaming communities. Whether those celebrations take place in guilds, forums, private events, or public events is up to the community members themselves, but being LGBT is more than a simple lifestyle– it’s part of our identity. Therefore, in order to feel comfortable within said community, we have to be who we are. Celebrations like this help us reach out to others, spread awareness, and gain confidence.
The fact that RIFT is holding events like this is a fantastic sign. It means that the community is beginning to solidify in ways it hasn’t before. This year’s Pride parade may have been a little small in comparison to the monster-sized Pride events (see above) held every year in World of Warcraft, but it all begins with that first step. That first step of raising awareness, sharing knowledge, and letting the RIFT community know that we can all safely be ourselves in an overall gaming community that can, well, be a little judgmental. If I had a quarter for every time I’ve seen a racial/gender/sexual orientation slur or insult in the last few months of playing any online game, I’d be able to buy something pretty nifty.
And that, frankly, is why events like Pride are needed. It all begins with small steps. “But politics don’t belong in games!” folks may say. Really? When’s the last time your political beliefs made you feel ashamed of yourself while taking part in a global chat discussion, raid, or guild/voice chat? This isn’t about mere politics. It’s about identity. For many of us LGBT folks who have been gaming for quite some time, we can count quite a few times when we’ve suddenly felt ashamed or angry at some random comment, slur, or the simple fact that we felt it safer to remain silent when guild chatter became aflutter with perfectly normal talk about spouses, significant others, and boobies (COUNT ME IN).
It’s why many of us seek out LGBT-friendly guilds. It’s why there are countless guilds across the global gaming community that open their doors to everyone (and not just gamers of varying sexual orientations) and close the doors to players who spout out insensitive crap every other raid night. We all spend hours upon hours invested in our games. We deserve to feel comfortable in our in-game skins just as our real-life skins. It all begins with that first step.
Okay, I’m done rambling. You’re free to disagree with my above thoughts, of course, but keep the comments civil.
In the meantime, screenshots! I wasn’t able to grab too many. If anyone has any other cool screenshots or videos they’d like to share, feel free to share them! There were definitely some awesome costumes.
As always, click on the thumbnails to bring up the full-size pictures: