Posts Tagged ‘womeningames’

I would firstly like to say a huge thank you to WiG for making all this happen.

My first entry is just going to be a brief introductory post so everyone can know a little about me and how I was introduced to WiG.

My name is Catherine Woolley, I went to the University of Wales, Newportand received a 1st class honours in Computer Games Design, as Emma has previously mentioned.

I was a volunteer at WiG 2007when it was conveniently hosted at Newport, which is where I became acquainted with Emma.

For those that attended you may remember these:

gingerbread cookies

I made them with my twin sister Charlotte Woolley every night before the conference, which was heaps of fun, and a real challenge at the same time.

I am currently applying for jobs in the games industry, but while I’m not doing that I’m working on an Unreal Tournament III mod called Void and a small Game Maker game called Lash La Rue on Holiday featuring Juan the duck which is a product of myself, my sister and her boyfriend. It was our entry for the Global Game Jam back in January.

Other than all that I have a huge passion for games, and hope to one day have more input on the development of them.

There should also be a WiG networking session happening at Develop, so keep your eyes peeled for more details!

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Please forward to interested colleagues and related networks..

In partnership with DIGRA 2009, Women in Games are honoured to issue a
general call for papers to be presented at this year’s DIGRA event at
Brunel. All information about submission available at

Women in Games 2009 @ DIGRA 2009
Call for Abstracts
Submission deadline: Friday April 3rd 2009

Currently in its fifth year, Women in Games (http://www.womeningames.com) is
an annual conference with the distinct aim of highlighting the most recent,
groundbreaking work in computer game research and development to both
academic and industrial worlds. WiG has consistently addressed the
empowerment and professional development of women working in, and
researching into, games and the games industry. In 2009 with the objective
of widening the audience and reach of the initiative WiG is running a series
of activities in parallel with key games events, both academic and industry,
to deliver focussed work to the wider community.

To date the themes addressed by feminist game studies can be broadly themed
in work on gendered activity in digital games and feminine preference in
play style and game characteristics. Other key studies look to gender equity
in game making and to the wider context of access to games. From Brenda
Laurel’s work in the early 90s onwards (long pre-dating any such thing as
games studies); critics, commentators and the academy have offered theories
and observations on the difference in play habits, styles and consumption of
digital gaming exhibited by women and girls. Yet well into our second decade
of work in this area what can we say we have learnt?

We believe that the time is ripe to return to core values in discussions
around histories, difference and generation in game space.

For more information please contact enquiries@womeningames.com.

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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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Women in Games ConferenceThose with an eagle eye will have noticed that there’s been a quiet pre-announcement for the Women in Games 2008 conference over on the WiG website. In a nutshell, the 2008 Women in Games conference will be held at the University of Warwick in Coventry on 10th-12th September 2008. We’re thrilled to say that the conference will be jointly hosted by the university’s Department of Computer Science and the game developer Rare Ltd, in an exciting partnership between academe and industry.

More will be announced soon (very soon!) but the WiG Steering Committee would like to welcome the organisers of WiG 2008, Nicola Bhalerao of Rare, Sara Kalvala of the University of Warwick and Jane Sinclair, also of the University of Warwick. This formidable trio will lead us forward to Women in Games Valhalla!

Check out who they are on the biogs page.

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Women in games on Channel 4“DON’T HAVE TO BE A GEEK” argues the headline on Channel 4’s 4Talent website, topping an article on women’s contributions to gaming. Among the interviewed are programmer Nicola Bhalerao from Rare, Designers Lynsey Rigby and Anya Massey at Blitz and Nanette Kaulig, an animator at Lionhead.

The article offers tips for entry into the industry, breaking down a few gamer stereotypes along the way.

Oh, and the Women in Games conference gets a wee mention along the way.

Check it out.

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