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Posts Tagged ‘women’

I was thrilled to see Karen’s presentation on Scratch, I first heard of this innovative toolset for teaching programming some years ago and was curious to see how the project had developed. Originally conceived by Mitchel Resnick LEGO Professor at the Lifelong Kindergarten group at MIT Media Lab (what a job title!), Scratch was designed to help young people develop modern learning skills. A freely downloadable environment (published under GPL), Scratch has benefited substantially from Web 2.0 community tools and consists of a thriving development community using the tools in a variety of contexts and application. Karen gave a fascinating presentation on a unique toolset that should be more widely used in an educative context.

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Paulina shared her experience of developing Singstar over the past 4 years. In discussing the evolution of the product she emphasised the need for inclusion of the target market in the design process. Initially Singstar started as a narrative-based game in which the player sang to bring the world to life, it soon became apart that singing was seen as compelling enough in itself to not need this framing. Singstar is a social, competitive and authentic (i.e. real music) product influenced by media and pop culture. The initial market was imagined as female, but the product appeal was widely seen to be much broader. Music is universal. The development team used music as a way of segmenting target audiences, i.e. through music genres. The key lessons Paulina has drawn from Singstar is that it is all about the user and their experience and that it is central to innovative game design to prioritise what brings most value to the experience.

Paulina then moved to the second section of her keynote and talked to the future of gaming, user generated content (UGC). After name-checking Clay Shirky’s book “Here comes everybody” to lead into her emphasis on social networking potential to allow users to coordinate themselves. Old notions of amateur and professional are changing and access to re-creative tools for distribution is significant. The games industry is rapidly reorienting itself to include the player in the gaming experience.

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Thursday kicked off with an inspirational presentation from Eileen, a senior Microsoft Evangelist. Eileen emphasised the importance of personal stories in encouraging girls and women to engage in the IT sector. She pointed to the rapidly diminishing female IT work force and stated that Microsoft currently have 13000 job openings! I hadn’t realised the IT skills issue was so massive! The promotion and focus on role models for women in technology is central to opening the area up for women as re-entry to work targets as well as for girls at schools. Microsoft runs a MVP (Most Valuable Person) programme which looks to engage, and indeed employ, product fans in evangelical and support roles for the company. This is one small step in including the community with the IT sector. Eileen talked to the need for us all to act as role models for others on an individual and personal level.

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In her opening keynote on Wednesday 10th, Sara presented her work running Coventry’s Serious Games Institute. SGi is building a stable of games, projects and companies that evolve the field of serious games within the UK, taking a world-class position in the sector. Serious games stands for the emergent field of using games as a mechanism to drive non-entertainment sectors, as a starting point do look to the Wikipedia entry. Although initially framed as a research, innovation and business activity, the field of serious games offers a lot of potential to games companies and universities alike to diversify the reach and impact of game form to new application.

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I am sat in Karen Clark’s final keynote listening to her advice on working in the games industry. Karen is Project Manager at BioWare and is currently working on Dragon Age. She has talked to the common myths about the games industry and reminds us of the importance of IGDA membership for those interested in supporting the evolution of the games industry. Karen is active in the Women in Games International initiative and is passionate about developing the forthcoming Mentor Program. Karen is looking to improve the working life in the games industry, whether it be increasing diversity, evolving process or creating a good work environment.

She points to sites like Glassdoor.com as a way of ranking employers that could be useful in our industry to get a sense of who the best companies are.

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This just in from Conference Central:

The Women In Games conference encourages research and seeks to promote careers for women within the games industry. If games are to become a true sibling medium to music and cinema, the industry needs greater balance in its audience and its workforce. The Women In Games conference welcomes participants from both industry and academia, providing a forum for presentation and discussion of issues relating to all aspects of women’s involvement in games, including game development, game playing and women as portrayed within games.

Although this conference is concerned with women and games please note that men are also very welcome to participate! The industry needs a meaningful dialogue between the sexes as it moves forward.

This year’s conference is co-organised by games company Rare Ltd (www.rare.co.uk) and the Computer Science Department at the University of Warwick (www.dcs.warwick.ac.uk)

Further details of the conference and this year’s themes are available at the conference website: www.womeningames.com

The Speaker Submission deadline has moved to Monday 23rd June 2008

Thinking of submitting a talk, or offering to participate in a panel, but thought you were too late? Think again! We have extended the deadline to Monday 23rd June to allow you some more time.

We are keen to have more offers on the themes, “Dressing up Programming” and “Technology in Schools” in particular, but submissions on any of the themes still welcome.

For more details on how to submit, please check out www.womeningames.com

Keynotes Announced

I am pleased to announce our Keynote speakers for this year’s Women In Games conference:-

Karen Brennan (Scratch, MIT)

Sara de Freitas (Serious Games)

Eileen Brown (Microsoft)

Karen Clark (Bioware)

Paulina Bozek (Sony)

I invite you to check out www.womeningames.com for more details on these excellent speakers.

Conference Dinner at Warwick Castle

We have a fabulous conference dinner, a mediaeval feast arranged at Warwick Castle, sponsored by Blitz Games Studios (www.blitzgames.com). It is included in the conference price, and is sure to be an excellent night!

Sign up Now

Registration for the conference is open, sign up now to ensure your place. Conference-standard accommodation is available on campus – no need to drive during the conference, parking is free, and evening meals and entertainment all included!

Advertise

Got something to advertise? Get in touch to find out what sponsorship options we have on offer. The conference relies on the generosity of our sponsors.

For further details see www.womeningames.com or contact nicola@womeningames.com

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Birds Eye View Women’s Film Festival 2008

BIRDS EYE VIEW ANNOUNCE THEIR LONDON FESTIVAL,
MARCH 6TH – 14TH 2008, AT THE ICA AND BFI SOUTHBANK,
PLUS AN EXCITING MIX OF EVENTS AROUND THE COUNTRY DURING 2008
www.birds-eye-view.co.uk

What, Where and When?

From March 6th-14th 2008, Birds Eye View will be showcasing a programme of innovative and inspirational shorts, features and documentaries from women all over the world, screening at leading London film venues (mainly the Institute of Contemporary Arts and the BFI Southbank). Special features of the 2008 festival programme include:

Clowning Glories: Women in Film Comedy before 1930, BFI Southbank
Keen to address the question of the under-representation of women in comedy, and the implications this has for the entertainment world, Birds Eye View will programme a retrospective celebrating early women pioneers in silent comedy: the directors, the writers and the performers who – much more so than today – brought personality and creative direction to the films. Filmmakers and stars in the programme so far include; Dorothy Arzner, Clara Bow, Mary Pickford, Marion Davies, Agnes Christine Johnston and Ossi Oswalda. There will be discussion and debate on these issues, and some of the UK’s leading contemporary female comics will introduce screenings, including Jo Brand. Female musicians will play live soundtracks to the films – including Mercury nominated Zoe Rahman (and female vocal group Juice), Nikki Yeoh, Alcyona, Jean Hasse, Jane Gardner and ‘twice Grammy nominated’ Imogen Heap. In partnership with the BFI the festival has confirmed In Conversation with Victoria Wood, an evening event taking place on March 11th.

Screwball Women: The golden age of Hollywood comediennes, BFI Southbank
To tie in with Birds Eye View festival, the BFI Southbank will run a programme of brilliant classic comedies throughout the month of March. Films include; She Done Him Wrong (Mae West), It Happened One Night, My Man Godfrey, Stage Door (Katherine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers), Bringing up baby (Katherine Hepburn), The Women (Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell), His Girl Friday (Rosalind Russell), The Philadelphia Story (Katherine Hepburn), The Lady Eve, Love Crazy, To Be Or Not To Be, Born Yesterday (Judy Holliday), and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Marilyn Monroe).

Innovation
This part of the Festival will focus on new and innovative uses of moving image, from interactive mobile phone art to video games, music videos and VJing. These include:
– Women in Video Games: a panel discussion with leading women from the very male dominated games industry (Emma Westecott, Organiser – Women in Games 2007 conference, Katie Ellwood – games designer and filmmaker, Gabrielle Kent, Games Designer, Animex Festival Game Director), a masterclass on screenwriting for games by Katie Ellwood and a showcase of the work of women video games designers on consoles in the ICA bar.
– Women in Music Videos (showcasing the latest works by Alma Ha’rel, Kinga Burza, Kim Gehrig, Sophie Muller, Shelly Lore, Kim Albright and many more)

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