Behind the Femme Gaming Lounge

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What is Femme Gaming? Beyond the exciting events, killer merch and engaging content, Femme Gaming is a community, and at the heart of this endeavour is the need for support and connection: the concept of a safe space made tangible.

Where did it all start?

Our founder Jess Medeiros cumulates over 10 years of experience in event marketing, as well as a lifelong gaming hobby. Her struggle to get a foot in the door in the gaming industry inspired her to create Femme Gaming: if the opportunities were not going to materialize, she was going to make her own. Her event marketing experience came in clutch when it came time to have the brand come alive: she knew what people look for as far as activations during events, and as a gamer herself, she knew how other girls and women would feel in an esports setting: slightly uneasy or uncomfortable, or even scared to be bullied or harassed in the same way as they do when they’re online. Jess decided to create a safe space as Femme Gaming’s main activation: the Femme Gaming Lounge.

While the concept has evolved with time, and many different events are now under the team’s collective belt, the lounge has kept its essence. It seeks to welcome everyone and provide a secure environment for people of any gender, race, sexuality, etc., to come together and chill. The lounge also seeks to be gender-neutral in its appeal, without excluding colours like pink and purple. Femme Gaming recognizes that these colours are coded, but wants to challenge those gender stereotypes, and establish pink and purple as part of the edgy, exciting colours everyone can enjoy in the esports space.

Montage of drawing and technical mock-ups of the space of the Femme Gaming lounge
The making of the Femme Gaming Lounge, from drawing to complete mock-ups

And how exactly does the lounge come together?

Obviously, we know everyone likes a good photo opp, and the design that was initially created as a video-call backdrop by FG’s Creative Director Shedona Nash was reimagined as a selfie backdrop. Printed on a life-size propped banner, we could easily slide a gaming chair, and a cute fuzzy carpet, and recreate a FG-themed gaming set-up in which to take fantastic photos, which are then easily shareable on social media. Obviously, the lounge part is hard to miss, and we love the visual appeal that LED furniture brings to the space (on top of being a pretty cool place to sit down)!

A free-play zone was another essential in our books: as gamers, we know that a good way to relax and recharge during an event is to button-smash for a few minutes. We’ve been incredibly lucky to partner with organizations like We Got Game for a Gaming Zone during FanExpo Canada, as well as XBOX and Microsoft for a Free-Play Zone during the Toronto Defiant Summer Showdown tournament. These partnerships are paramount to make the lounge a safe space: not only are gamers from all horizons welcome, but they can co-exist and play in the same space IRL. Among our favourite images from the Femme Gaming Lounge, we can see little girls playing with their parents, right next to grown adults, and everyone in between, and that’s truly inspiring.

Montage of photos from the event, in clockwise order: a Black women with headphones holding a controller, Femme Gaming merch on display in the lounge, the Femme Gaming logo on the giant screen in front of the crow, a photo of the lounge and the banner reading "The Femme Gaming Shop".
Our Femme Gaming Lounge at the Toronto Defiant Summer Showdown Tournament.

Finally, the sprinkle on top of this beautiful cake that is the lounge: the team. As an esports start-up, our team is mainly comprised of ambitious, driven individuals who volunteers their time and energy to make Femme Gaming’s brand come alive. Making sure our team is diverse is also a big concern for us, and we feel so blessed to have people from all walks of life be team members, whether they be BIPOC, first-generation immigrants, part of the LGBTQ+ community, disabled, or who use English as a second language. As a matter of fact, I am a perfect example, representing a kaleidoscope of diversity on the team: I am a French-speaking Québécois, gender-queer, pansexual, and disabled, and I know that my presence at the Femme Gaming Lounge contributes to its being a safe space. My experience during FanExpo, my most recent presence in the lounge, showed me just how impactful seeing someone who looks like you can be, and people kept coming back, day after day, to say hi, sit in the lounge, and chat with me throughout the weekend. I know I’m not the only one: every member of the team has similar stories, bonding over being gamer moms, queer gamers, and more, with several members of the public who came to enjoy the lounge over these different events – and yes, even guys love the lounge and come and chill with us. The feelings of community, trust, and connection are plain to see: that’s when we know we’ve truly succeeded in creating a safe space.

Billie Gagné-LeBel

Billie Gagné-LeBel is a queer freelance writer and content creator who loves to explore questions of identity and mental health, alternative relationships and lifestyles, sustainability and travel, beauty and all things Geek. In her free time, she’s a creative makeup artist, a cat lover and travel enthusiast.

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