Roughly 3,000 Saudi women are reported to have attended GCON, an annual two-day gaming convention for women held in late November. In 2011 female gamers were banned from a gaming convention in Saudi Arabia, prompting GCON co-founders Tasneem Salim and Felwa al-Swailem to persuade big gaming brands to back an all-female convention. This year marked the fourth GCON, and the largest ever in the capital. Many women attended dressed as favorite game characters, their elaborate costumes providing a stunning contrast with the traditional all-black cover-ups Saudi women must wear. Aside from offering women the chance to interact and play video games with their peers, GCON also encourages girls to aim for careers in science and computer programming. “It’s a side of Saudi Arabia that people rarely get to see, but it’s real and it exists,” says Salim. GCON coincidentally opened on the same day that election campaigns began in Saudi Arabia. This year women will be allowed to participate and vote in local municipal elections for the first time.
Read the full story at NPR.