This is happening ~ Weds12thOct2016!

Copied and pasted, I know it’s lazy but…

Level unlocked: facilitating women’s access to careers in the games industry
Wednesday 12th October, 2pm-5pm
River Room King’s Building Strand Campus
Register here: https://levelunlocked.eventbrite.co.uk

The video game industry is notoriously perceived as exclusionary and intolerant, particularly of women and others. ‘Re-Figuring Innovation in Games’ (ReFig) is a collaborative research project that addresses the urgent need for equity and diversity in order to stimulate innovation and greater inclusion in this significant domain of the creative industries.
This workshop will feature case study materials from initiatives aimed at supporting women’s access to the games industry in Canada, Ireland and the UK. It will feature presentations by key ReFig games industry and games education researchers and will be supported by young women currently working in games design. We welcome those interested in accessing the games industry at all levels as well as those wishing to support this access, for example educators at secondary, tertiary and beyond; advocacy groups; employers seeking guidance on inclusive recruitment strategies and structures; and academics.

Shift happens: a panel debate about exclusion & inclusivity in the games industry
Wednesday 12th October, 7pm-8:30pm
Anatomy Lecture Theatre (K.6.29) Strand Campus
Register here: https://shifthappensplay.eventbrite.co.uk

The games industry has the capacity to deliver rich, meaningful, creative and stimulating cultural experiences that can also contribute new tools for education and new avenues for economic prosperity. A diverse, inclusive and representative workforce will ensure that it achieves this with opportunities for all. However, the current landscape is very far from this ideal. To give this ambition any chance of success we will need the industry, academics, advocacy groups and educators to work together on a diverse range of tactics and strategies and to collaborate on initiatives that contribute to this transformation. Although the focus here is on the games industry these are challenges faced by many other science and technology based domains and successful approaches developed here would and should be applicable elsewhere. This panel will provide the platform for a meaningful debate between representatives from the games industry seeking to employ and address a more diverse community and representatives of advocacy groups or initiatives which seek to support the access of girls and young women.

Panel members include:
Holly Gramazio (Matheson Marcault), Marie-Claire Isaaman (CEO of Women in Games (WIGJ), Gina Jackson (Managing Director at the NextGen Skills Academy) and Dr. Chris Lowthorpe (co-author of ‘Punk Playthings: A Disruptive Approach to Making Games in the 21st Century’. Chair – Helen W. Kennedy.

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These events are inspired by the issues and aims that fuel ReFig. For more information about this five year international research collaboration, and its approaches to diversity and equity in the global games industry and games culture, please visit the website at http://www.refig.ca. There events are part of this year’s Arts & Humanities Research Festival at King’s College London – please see here for details: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/artshums/ahfest/2016/2016-Festival-Theme.aspx

The importance of representation

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Spot the girl.

I’ve been busy putting together and all-female panel for a talk on virtual reality at the AIDC at the start of March. We decided that pushing for all women was important, as so many talks in this space (and others) are dominated by men. However, even whilst believing this firmly, I have nagging feelings of tokenism even though I know it’s not true. The women we have speaking are at the top of their field and deserve to be there.

With this on my mind, I read a brilliant article from Renee Gittins on her feelings of imposter’s syndrome – never feeling like you quite deserve what you’ve got and you shouldn’t really be there.

Her experiences chime in so directly with my own – having these feelings gently reinforced, often unintentionally, throughout our lives.

An example of this, which sticks with me to this day, is from my time being the only girl at an all boys school. Every time I did well in an exam or a piece of work, the same response always came from one of the boys – “it’s because you’re the only girl”. I know they (most of the time…) didn’t mean any harm, it was a joke, but that’s the problem with casual sexism – it adds up and affects the way you feel about yourself. Even if you don’t realise it at the time.

So, if you do one thing this week, read this article. Renee Gittins on gender-fueled impostor’s syndrome:

There is one issue, one excuse, one justification for my “luck” in my achievements that comes up again and again: I am a woman.

I dislike talking about my gender. Years of participating in online communities and reading anonymous comments about other women and me have made focus on my gender make me feel uneasy. At one point I was bold about it, proudly affirming to my online companions and enemies that, yes. Yes, I am a girl.

Expected reactions ensued, from accusations of “attention-whoring” to proclamations of love. Often there was denial or requests for proof; even sometimes there was almost no reaction at all. At the worst, there was stalking, sexual harassment, and death threats called in to my own personal phone number.

[…]

I am in a constant struggle. My gender gives me both advantages and disadvantages, but I don’t want to be defined by it. I want to tell other women about my struggles, I want to encourage girls and let them know what they can do, but I am stuck between being an advocate for my gender and trying not to be defined by my gender.

>> Read full article

Tonight – Bristol Girl Geek Dinner

This evening (Thursday 21st January 2016) Claire and Constance are off to talk all things Grrrl Games at the local chapter of Girl Geek Dinners. You can find out more about Bristol GGD here

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The Bristol Girl Geeks meet monthly and describe themselves as “a social and networking group for women who are interested in science, technology, engineering and other geeky things. We held our first event in 2010 and meet up about once a month for a talk with an inspiring female speaker and some good food and drink, usually provided by a sponsor.”

Looking forward to making more connections and seeing who might be up for some Grrrl Games activities.

A foot in the door

We are always looking for ways to help people get into the gaming industry or climb a little higher up their chosen career ladder.

The Creative Skillset site has a Useful Page on ways into the game industry. Take a look and see what you might be eligible for.

Check out the NextGen Skills Academy too.

At our meetups we are always happy to take a look at a portfolio or ongoing projects in order to give useful feedback on content and also to help work out what steps to take next.

Come to our next meetup!

This meetup will take place on the SECOND Tuesday of this month as a few potential people said they weren’t free on the first one. As well as moving forward plans for future workshops & events, Constance will be showing us the game she is currently developing – Lux and the Shadowmaker. Constance has been working on the game at the Games Hub following a crowdfunding campaign which was part of the Queen of Code Initiative, which matched funding for indie female devs – find out more here. As well as showing us the game, Constance will be talking about working with developers, getting to grips with Unity & making the most of minimal funding. Really hope to see you all there!

Unity

Last night I went to the Bristol Games Hub for a talk on Unity organised by Alex Birke, the Danish guy who cheerfully compares himself to a mop, and Sam Chester, who is now and will forever be the DusterHead. (It makes more sense if you see the pictures that started the presentation.) Anyway, they were there to welcome everyone to the first in a series of sessions they’re organising to introduce people to Unity and how to get started making games with it. The session was pitched at ‘beginners’, but those would be beginners who have prior experience of coding. It didn’t take Alex long to build a tank that could fire at targets and cause explosions next to mountains, albeit mountains that all looked like sugar-loaves.  It was entertaining and my mind was spiralling off in two main directions – one, how to adapt what he was doing for the game idea we have planned that involves no tanks or bullets, and two, whether I can remember any c#, which looks like it would be useful. I’m definitely having a go with the free version of Unity and will no doubt keep you posted on how I get on. Luckily I’ve been using Appfurnace recently which has a similar feel to it, so I am sure I will get somewhere…

Alex gave us a link for more tutorial advice here

The next Unity session is on shading – keep an eye on the Bristol Games Hub newsletter for more info, whether you are a complete novice or an expert who can offer ideas to the discussion.

Flossie 2013

This is a pulling together of some bits and pieces for the very short workshop I ran at FLOSSIE 2013 on behalf of Her Game Collective. In the event there wasn’t enough time to go through everything that I wanted to share so here is a list of the links that I was going to show, along with the ones I did:

So, you found our website, so that’s good and I don’t need to paste the link. Obv.

I suggested Games Jams as a place to play at making games – keep an eye out for this sort of thing, a Games Jam funded by the Royal Society or, even better, the XX Games Jam in 2012.

I mentioned GameMaker Studio and Unity, as software to look at and try out – there is currently a shortage of Unity programmers in the games industry, so it is worth seeing if it suits you. Last time I looked you could download and try out for free, then it gets expensive when you want to publish.

A quick and easy way of testing out the structure of a game idea is using a text based tool, such as text adventures, where you can create and play all sorts of branching adventures 

nb I haven’t used it properly but there is also Twine, as Astrid showed us in another FLOSSIE session,  which you can use to develop an idea, and has an interface that shows you the branching structure and connections between elements of your narrative. 

I showed a few examples of people playing around with substituting men and women in games . This is a particularly !fine example ~ Larry Croft, anyone?

And there are examples of people reprogramming games so their daughters can play as a female protagonist ~ check out these alt. Zelda and Donkey Kong

I ask think it’s good to keep an eye on who else is sharing their thoughts on women+games out there, so here’s a little bit of Inspiration from Dames Making Games and Feminists in Games, both of whom get involved in games jams, run meet ups and conferences and bring together researchers and makers.

I remembered to include @firefluff’s message that there needs to be space for people making ‘quiet’ games, it’s not just about butt-kicking females (tho we do quite like those too)

 And to finish, I showed the fab game the news site, to show the sort of messages that games can get across to people. 

The workshop itself was slightly chaotic, but definitely got people thinking and talking about games, and contributing their ideas about how to get started with designing one.

Oh, and in case you missed the previous post of Too many Dicks, it’d be nice one day to have so many female characters to draw on that we could create a positive version…