Insomnia Festival 2023: Empowering Women in Gaming

Insomnia Gaming Festival 2023 was the biggest and most diverse celebration of gaming yet, and I was excited to see the celebration of women in the gaming industry.

The UK’s largest LAN party took place from April 7th to 10th 2023 at the NEC in Birmingham, and attendees were treated to a thrilling line-up of esports tournaments, tabletop games, indie games, popular culture, and special guests.

What set this year’s festival apart is its commitment to promoting inclusivity and diversity in gaming. I was a woman on a mission to find and play as many games as I could and share them with you.

It was great to see Insomnia Gaming Festival 2023 creating opportunities for female gamers and content creators, supporting women-led indie games, and promoting diversity in esports and LAN gaming areas.

As the gaming community continues to grow, the importance of inclusivity and diversity cannot be overstated. Insomnia is leading the charge toward a more diverse and empowered gaming community, and I’m excited to see the impact it will have on the industry.

Insomnia Gaming Festival 2023

Founded in 1999, the Insomnia Gaming Festival originated as the i-Series; a small LAN (Local Area Network) event where gamers could come together and play together as part of one community.

Today, our focus on bringing the community together is just as strong, as we welcome 60,000 visitors to Insomnia yearly and our LAN parties have grown to the biggest in the UK, seeing 2,800 gamers in one space for a weekend of non-stop, 24-hour gaming.

Expanding from the LAN, Insomnia is a diverse show for gamers of all backgrounds, identities and ethnicities to come together and celebrate everything that we love about video games and popular culture.

From brand new and upcoming releases, Cosplay, Indie games, Tabletop games, gaming content creators, gaming merch and much more, Insomnia Gaming Festival isn’t just a gaming expo, it’s a celebration of all things gaming.

Insomnia Gaming Festival

You’ll be surprised to know that this was my first Gaming Festival!

That’s right, I reached the ripe age of 38 before I felt comfortable enough to attend an event on this scale.

As a female gamer who plays mostly Nintendo Switch Games that are relaxing and life-affirming, I never felt I fit into the ‘Gamer box’ and I’ll admit that walking into i70 I still felt that way.

Despite being gifted a Press Pass by the lovely folks at igfest and despite running this gaming blog, my imposter was heightened to a new level of scary.

I was expecting not to find much to report back on in all honesty, my inner skeptic was at the forefront after seeing the lineup for the festival:

PLAYABLE GAMES

The biggest, most popular games are from giant studios like Fortnight, Minecraft, Rocket League and League of Legends. Games I’ve never had any interest in playing and at this point don’t play them on principle.

My interest was piqued however by one new game by BANDAI NAMCO – Park Beyond.

SPECIAL GUESTS

A strong voice actors lineup who would be taking to the main stage as well as the Meet and Greet areas from games I have hardly heard of. In all honesty, I skipped most of the stage shows and ended up missing the one I really wanted to see because I went to the wrong stage at the wrong time. Only I could manage to be that bad at time management.

Content Creators I didn’t expect to know but ended up being pleasantly surprised. More about this later!

LAN PARTY & ESPORTS

The key draw of Insomnia is its LAN which has been running for over 20 years!

Did your girl even know what LAN was before this?

No, I did not.

If like me you’re clueless, LAN (Local Area Network) is where players come together as one community, either by bringing their own personal computer or hiring one, to compete in Esports Tournaments, play multiplayer battles, and overall, just have fun playing together under one roof with friends.

Personally, I might have given Fall Guys a go as it’s the only game out of the ones available that I’ve played extensively.. though I am more into collecting cute outfits than growing into a pro gamer.

EMPOWERING WOMEN IN GAMING

In recent years, the gaming industry has made significant strides toward inclusivity and diversity, but there is still much work to be done.

Women, in particular, have historically been underrepresented and often face discrimination in the industry. However, Insomnia Gaming Festival 2023 is committed to promoting inclusivity and diversity within gaming.

With a range of events and activities, the festival provided a platform for women to showcase their talents and connect with others in the industry.

Additionally, the festival featured panels and talks by women in gaming, providing valuable insights and advice for aspiring female gamers and content creators.

GIRL TALK: GETTING INTO GAMES

Women in gaming shared their advice on how to get started in the gaming industry from their own personal experiences.

Girl Talk was the one show I was most excited to watch and yet I missed it!

However, I did catch Creators Helping Creators hosted by Mavitivo featuring The Caramel Gamer, TigressX and Bex Bomb.

Left to right – Mavitivo, Bex Bomb, TigressX, and The Caramel Gamer

I’ve always felt that studying and learning from other creators is the healthiest way to grow as a content creator.

It can be so easy to get stuck in your own head space and fester, especially as a woman. Being an older female content creator in gaming I often get frozen with comparisonitis when I see young and beautiful women out there just being awesome, and I worry I’m too old!

That’s on me, not them.

I overcome this by celebrating them and raising them up because in doing so not only do they get the praise and recognition they deserve but I learn that we all suffer from anxieties. They are a real person behind vanity metrics and aesthetics.

The creators spoke about their own experiences dealing with mental health and diversity in gaming:

The more people that are doing it (content creation) the more diverse it’s going to be and the more voices are going to be heard.

Bex Bomb – Insomnia i70, Creators Helping Creators Talk

TigressX admitted to not taking enough breaks:

I know if I sit too long, I’m probably going to sit for the entire day. So I just don’t stop, and I think that’s why I’m so busy all the time.

TigressX – Insomnia i70, Creators Helping Creators Talk

She has a full-time job and her content creation fits in around that. With nearly 1 million followers on TikTok and 80K followers on Twitch she is successfully making it work in her own way.

Left to right – TigressX, Bekzxx, and Sammi Dodger Mines

TigressX demonstrated her professionalism at Insomnia as the face of TikTok on the big screens around the event and encouraged people to come to have a chat with her if they saw her walking around the event.

Her Beat Saber streams on TikTok were how I knew her face and managed to get a couple of quick pics after the show. She was incredibly kind and sweet in person!

Left to right – TigressX, Miss Bubbles, and Her Cozy Gaming

To my surprise, Miss Bubbles snuck in for a quick hug and chat too! You can read more about her in 4 of the Coziest Gamers on YouTuber.

INDIE GAMES AT INSOMNIA i70

The Insomnia Gaming Festival hosted some of the latest games from many new Indie Developers and Studios.

At first glance, the Indies section was quite small, just 2 rows but jam-packed and probably the busiest area of the festival – a sea of people who clearly love video games!

There were a few notable games that I want to share with you as a cozy gamer.

Pandora: Chains of Chaos

From Miami Avalon (formerly Party Llama Games) comes Pandora: Chains of Chaos. An early access 3D open-world game about a girl named Pandora who’s opened an ungodly box and now, while battling her own guilt, has to save her village and the world from the threat of demons and monsters.

This action-adventure is available on Steam.

Ascend

Also from Miami Avalon – Ascend is slated to release later this year. A young woman must pilgrimage up a mountain, completing various puzzles to gain access to the Ascend in order to restore the Moon’s power.

Follow the game development on Twitter.

Miami Avalon was founded by Nareice Jade Wint, who was named one of the top 100 most influential women working in the UK games industry (2019). Nareice calls her games, her ‘side project’ as she also works full-time as a Producer at Playground Games.

Screaming Loaf

From AshumArcade let off some steam and SCREAM! Become a loaf of bread in this charming indie game as you scare away evil jam and cheese with the power of your voice. I agree cheese is indeed evil and I was happy to turn my hand to melting them out of existence. This puzzle platformer is available now on Steam and Google Play.

AshumArcade was founded by Ashley, a solo indie game developer who says on his Twitter, “Thanks to my autistic powers, I have the ability to enjoy my interests on a whole other level”.

A stand tucked away at the back of Indies almost went under my radar!

Patch Magazine is a women-led independent magazine covering video games that are created by independent developers or studios.

Patch Magazine was founded out of a desire for a fun and friendly space where everyone feels welcome to get involved in the indie gaming world

Patch Magazine

I had already heard about them briefly through social media and so didn’t hesitate in signing up for a monthly subscription! For just £3.99 per month, it would be rude not to.

I can’t wait to get my first copy, though looking at past issues I’m also tempted to buy them too.

If you want to discover more new cozy indie games get your Subscription Today!

PARK BEYOND AT INSOMNIA GAME FEST

Dare to dream, and create a Park that knows no limits of gravity, powered only by your imagination.

As a huge management simulator player I was most excited to head on over to the Park Beyond stand and I wasn’t disappointed! Not only could I have a go at playing this fantastic new game but they also had a giant claw machine which was very popular. Attendees were queuing around the corner just to have a go.

The prize was a tiny Pac-Man or ghost and if you didn’t win you could just try again for free.

You can watch my video on TikTok or Instagram to see it in action.

If you grew up playing RollerCoaster Tycoon or Planet Coaster you’ll fall in love with Park Beyond. I had to almost drag my fiance away, and I felt awful for it too! He was having so much fun.

Final thoughts on Insomnia Gaming Festival 2023

Overall, Insomnia Gaming Festival was an enjoyable experience, one I hope to repeat.

I spent so much money in the market, played many wholesome games, and met some amazing content creators inspiring other women to follow in their footsteps and pursue their passions.

It took me just 4 hours to see everything and missed out on a free cup of tea and the odd show but I came away with a smile on my face and lots of happy memories.

I hope to see more events like this in the future, as we continue to work towards a more inclusive and empowering gaming community.

Wendy
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