Tonight! First Tuesday April 2016

There’s never enough time to do AND document. Still need to write up last #FirstTuesday & it’s time for another one!

We have another practical session planned – suitable for beginners too – with the very patient and clever Ben Pitt from Unity. We are going to look at AI/navmesh and don’t worry if that sounds like gobbledigook, Ben is very good at explaining things. Last month we played around with particles and if I was on the pc laptop I would share a screenshot of my teddy bear that puffs out little rainbow cloudlets when you click on it. My excuse is I thought the grandchildren would find it highly amusing, I know I did.

So, head over to the Grrrl Games meetup and join us this evening. All you need to bring is a laptop with Unity installed. Crisps welcome too.

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

Blast from the past – XX Game Jam 2012

For some reasoning I’ve been thinking about what triggered our grrrl game activities and one of the definite sparks was a women-only XX Games Jam that ran in Autumn 2012 up at Mind Candy HQ in London (a very colourful space full of Moshi monsters). All those who went had a great 24 hours or so developing games with a bunch of women who mostly didn’t know each other beforehand. Jess & I went along wondering if we had any relevant skills to contribute and came home wanting to make games more than once in a blue moon (still working on that one!) and to encourage other women to have a go too. It kickstarted our cunning plan to develop software training, discussion sessions and taster workshops to build useful skills in preparation for another Grrrl Games Jam.

XX Games Jam was also where I created my Ada Lovelace icon that just reminds me of what a blast I had working with Terri & Kimmi, who I had never met before.

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There’s this featurette on BBC Click online about the XX Game Jam. It was a big confidence booster for a lot of women in games, including yours truly. These reporters get the point and are generally positive about the idea of women making games, and how women-only jams are a good way to encourage us to take our first steps. Just one women-only games jam was enough to give me confidence to attend mixed jams too. There’s a nice video here about XX Game Jam that includes interviews with organisers and attendees, and it just reminds me why we want to organise another XX Games Jam!

 

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.

Weekly roundup: Diversity and development in video games

[Mashable] Diversity report card: Video games passed in 2015, but barely

This is article is one of a cool five-part series that Mashable did, examining strides made in 2015 in movies, television, online video, gaming and sports.

Starting with the recently released Pew study that confirmed what we already suspected; 50% of adult men and 48% of adult women — a nearly even amount — play games. It’s great to see the industry taking note of this, with new titles like Horizon: Zero Dawn, ReCore, Mirror’s Edge 2 and Lara Croft GO! all featured female leads and more offering playable female characters.

This is great, we are getting somewhere, however real diversity in games still has a way to go. Most of these leads aren’t minorities and the gaming landscape is still predominantly white. Mashable links this issue of representation to the bleak levels of diversity within the mainstream games industry:

Even in 2015, 75% of the games industry is male, and 76% of its members are white, according a 2015 self-selected survey from the International Game Developers Association. Only 9% of the survey’s respondents were East Asian, 7% were Latino and 3% were black.

 >> Read the full report

Severed

[engadget] Developer diversity changes the way video games are made

Leading nicely onto this next piece, which examines in more details the roles of developers when pushing for diversity in games. The author also briefly explores the backlash from players who don’t feel diversity is necessary, speaking to Dr. Kishonna Gray, director of the Critical Gaming Lab at Eastern Kentucky University:

“Those who have always been reflected in any type of media suggest that diversity and accurate representations are unnecessary,” she says. “Those who make these comments have always been catered to. They have diverse stories. They have meaningful representations. They are not reduced to perpetual stereotypes.”

There’s tons more in this piece, including examples of cool games you should be playing, go read it!

>> Read full article

[Al Jazeera] In Pakistan, some gaming studios have made gender equity a priority

This article caught my eye as I was browsing through Twitter, mainly because Pakistan is not often celebrated for its’ gender diversity. Only about 13 percent of the non-agriculture workforce is female.

However some big studios in Pakistan’s rapidly growing gaming industry are challenging this. We R Play Studios have a 42 percent female workforce, 25 percent of Tintash Studios staff are women and CaramelTech Studios in Lahore are on 23 percent.

>> Read full article

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Level Up: A Geek Romance Rom Com

Lastly, not an article but a free (FREE!) book from author Cathy Yardley. The first in a geek romance rom com series, this book (according to a review) hits on everything that the modern nerdy woman could want. 

Go read it!

Yes we’re back: First Tuesday 2016

Spurred on by Jess managing to blog from the Antipodes I thought I should write something too. It is our first First Tuesday of 2016 tonight so we’ll be back at Bristol Games Hub at 7pm. (A slightly later start in 2016 as I now work tuesdays til 6.15 and then have to race across town to let people in.)

Tonight we will be focusing on playing a couple of games – Jenny’s board game & Claire’s online text-based adventure that started as her teaching herself to code and is now a wonderfully inventive piece of work complete with pixel gif animations.

We had a look at both of these very different games back in December when a small but lively bunch of us met at Watershed for pre-Xmas sociable drinking and getting to know each other. Always great to meet new women with lots of ideas and talents and get them talking. That’s a lot of what we are about here at Grrrl Games. So as well as sharing outrageous stories and admiring new tattoos we did talk about the games. Jenny brought along the Space board game she made as part of her Uni course as she wanted some feedback on it – absolutely beautifully crafted piece of work (hand-carved in stone and then 3D printed spaceships!!) that I hope to learn to play this evening at our January First Tuesday.

Jenny's game

Claire is bringing the latest version of her game too for us to play as well. I’ll ask if I can share some screenshots of her latest crop of animated animals.

 

Happy New Years from Grrrl Games! Here’s some sort of resolutions

It’s 2016! The new year is upon us! It’s time to make a bunch of resolutions we won’t keep!

We’re starting the year with Constance and I on the opposite sides of the world – Constance is still in Bristol, running the amazing Grrrl Games meetups and i’m in Australia working on some exciting virtual reality projects.

But moving on from this geographical mishap, I want to make some sort of resolutions for Grrrl Games:

  1. Write more: This is a blog and it’s woefully unfilled… One post a week from now on, I promise!
  2. Get some answers: We started our 7 (now 8) questions idea a while back and I still – with not a hint of bias –  think it’s great. We’ll be pestering tons more women for answers in 2016 and post them up here in due course.
  3. Organise training: This is not for lack of trying… We spent the latter half of 2015 pushing for some women-only training days/introductory courses in Unity and we’ll keep on pushing in 2016.
  4. Attend more meetups: This is more of a personal one. Meetups are great and although i’ve been to a couple of VR ones in Australia, i’m still often put off by the fact i’m a minority at them. At the first one I went to, there were two other women there (I came with one of them) and it sucks. But not going to them because it feels daunting solves nothing, it just means there’s one less woman there, so back on the bike (or horse? or camel?) and just go.
  5. Read more / share more: Even if I don’t stick to my first resolution, there’s nothing stopping me reading and sharing other peoples’ writing on women in games.

I’ll start here with some good news from the NYTimes ‘Lara Croft Has Company: More Female Heroes Appear in Big-Budget Games‘, this brilliant interview with Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir, senior producer for Starwars Battlefront and lastly rejoice! 2015 was a landmark for women in first-person shooters.