IGDA Women in Games SIG

FRIDAY 16 JULY 2010

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Opening Letter from SIG Chair

by Fiona Cherbak
Welcome to our summer issue! As we ramp up for rest of the summer and into the fall, now is a great time for the rejuvenation and reinvigoration of IGDA Women in Games. Read More
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Interview: Jessica Tams, Producer of Casual Connect and Publisher of Gamesauce

By Fiona Cherbak
IGDA Women in Games recently sat down with Jessica Tams, magazine publisher and managing director of the Casual Games Association, to talk about her new print and online games industry publication, Gamesauce and its adjunct industry conference. Jessica is already well-known as the mastermind behind Casual Connect, the largest series of annual casual game conferences in the world, committed to serving the needs of the professional casual gaming industry. Read More
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Vancouver Film School Awards $50,000 Women in Games Scholarship

Vancouver Film School, Canada's premier post-secondary entertainment arts institution, awarded the second annual Women in Games Scholarship earlier this month to Anne Dickerson, a former 4th grade teacher from Washington, DC. Read More
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The Future of Girls, Gaming and Gender

By Mindy Faber
The good news is that scores of recently released studies and surveys are challenging the out-dated myth that gaming is a "guy" thing. Females, it seems, now comprise an increasingly greater percentage not only of game players, but game developers as well. Women pioneers in the field, including many of those in the IGDA Women in Games SIG, have blazed new trails of equity for their younger counterparts to follow.
Read More
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Q&A with IndieCade, featuring Stephanie Barrish, Founder and President, and Celia Pearce, Festival Chair

By Fiona Cherbak
IGDA Women in Games recently had the chance to speak with Stephanie Barrish and Celia Pearce, the powerhouse duo that produce IndieCade, the world's biggest independent games festival. Heading into its fifth year, the main IndieCade event is being held this October 8-10 at venues throughout Culver City, California and is expected to draw a record-breaking 5,000 attendees.
Read More
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Working in a Male Domain

By Julie Prescott
This article presents some of the findings from a much larger body of work (PhD) on female game workers. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the game workers who took the time to complete my study questionnaire. The sample consisted of data from over 450 women currently working in the games industry, the majority of which worked in the UK and USA. The sample consisted mostly of women who worked in a developmental capacity, with some working in a non-developmental role and some academia.
Read More
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A Letter from the SIG Chair

Greeting, IGDA Women in Games friends and colleagues -

Welcome to our summer issue! As we ramp up for rest of the summer and into the fall, now is a great time for the rejuvenation and reinvigoration of IGDA Women in Games.

As I exit my role as SIG leader, we are preparing for new leadership to take shape and begin a new era of progress on behalf of women in the games industry.

Our SIG steering committee, advisory board, program committees, volunteers, sponsors and partners made significant strides on behalf of women in games during the last two years:

  • Updated "look and feel" to IGDA Women in Games SIG web pages, including new content and new logo.
  • Supported other SIG's efforts to increase awareness and opportunities in education, diversity hiring and talent development.
  • Launched development SIG programs, such as mentorship, peer review, research and career development.
  • Branded SIG presence at co-partnered events around the world, plus on-going partnerships with complimentary organizations.
  • Increased opportunities for SIG members to participate in press editorial, speaking engagements and other 'visibility' activities.
  • Expanded SIG leadership, including a steering committee, advisory group and project committees.

I want to thank my colleagues on the SIG steering committee: Anne Toole, Amanda d'Adesky, Alexandra Raymond, Tina Tyndal and Tristin Hightower. Their outstanding teamwork ensured a cohesive volunteer effort that garnered meaningful results every step of the way.

I fully encourage you to support our new WIG SIG leadership, and to participate in their vision and goals. Most importantly, always remember to engage, promote and support your female colleagues, no matter what.

Kind regards,
Fiona Cherbak
Chair, IGDA Women in Games
Summer 2008-2010

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Interview: Jessica Tams, Producer of Casual Connect and Publisher of Gamesauce

By Fiona Cherbak

IGDA Women in Games recently sat down with Jessica Tams, magazine publisher and managing director of the Casual Games Association, to talk about her new print and online games industry publication, Gamesauce and its adjunct industry conference. Jessica is already well-known as the mastermind behind Casual Connect, the largest series of annual casual game conferences in the world, committed to serving the needs of the professional casual gaming industry.

Gamesauce
Casual Connect

Jessica Tams, Producer of Casual Connect and Publisher of Gamesauce
Jessica Tams, Producer of Casual Connect and Publisher of Gamesauce

IGDA Women in Games: What prompted you to develop the Gamesauce publication?

Jessica: Gamesauce has been in the making for over a decade now; it all started when I got my first job as a programmer in the games industry. Over the years I worked in game development, my role morphed from programmer to producer. Gamesauce is the magazine and conference that I always wanted as a programmer and what I wanted my team to have as a producer: An inside look at the game industry that is fun, but at the same time holds nothing back.

But Gamesauce isn't just my creation. As editor in chief, Jake Simpson gives the Gamesauce Magazine its cheeky appeal, Gaurav Mathur and Shirin Ardakani take care of the creative design, and Shaun Bryant and Ed Kuehnel contribute the comic.

The conference is organized by a myriad of game industry professionals including Dan Maghna (game development), the IGDA, WIGI, Women in Games, WIG Vancouver (leadership), The Corum Group (funding & exit), Game Audio Alliance (audio & music), and Nvidia (mobile game development). And let us not forget the dozens of game industry professionals writing articles and delivering lectures!

Gamesauce is intended to bring all game developers to an awareness of the reality of our current market and to remind us why we do what we do - because it is fun!

IGDA Women in Games: What is your long-term vision for the Gamesauce magazine, and how do you see it supporting the international circuit of Casual Connect conferences?

Jessica: Over the past 30 years, the games industry has helped a lot of people discover that they actually like to play video games. I see Gamesauce as a means of contributing to the continued advancement of gaming with educational resources for game developers: we want to help developers make better games. If you were to take a snapshot of Casual Connect its first year (it was Casuality then) and another of the upcoming event in Seattle, you would see that in the short span of five years, the games industry has completely transformed. Imagine where we will all be in another five years!

Games as a form of entertainment are here to stay. I truly see Gamesauce not only supporting Casual Connect, but becoming an integral part of the core purpose of its existence - to help the industry as a whole continue to grow and succeed by reaching out to all developers with educational and networking resources.

IGDA Women in Games: What are some of the benefits and success stories for game companies and individual game developers that have participated in Casual Connect in the past?

Jessica: Any member of the video games community can tell you how all-too-easy it is to find yourself isolated, working on that project that's sure to alter gaming history, only to emerge from the process and find yourself existing in a completely different world from where you began. Casual Connect is intended to keep the industry on track by bringing these industry players together to learn from each other, to foster supportive relationships that in turn create growth and success for individual companies.

Casual Connect attendees hold thousands of meetings at the three Casual Connect conferences each year, and as a result, we see a stellar lineup of games on the major distribution platforms, from Big Fish Games to Facebook to King.com to the iPhone.

One area I am particularly proud of is our commitment to an equal-opportunity global industry. Every year, the industry comes together not only in the United States, but in Europe and Eastern Europe as well. The growth of the casual games industry in Eastern Europe is nothing short of phenomenal and we are proud of our ability to foster that growth. You never know where the next hit game will come from!

IGDA Women in Games: What's next for Casual Connect in 2010 and 2011, and what kind of role will Gamesauce play with your other Casual Connect conferences?

Jessica: Casual Connect will certainly continue its role in supporting the mass-market industry through education and networking events (nothing will change). Gamesauce will reach out in a more unified approach to all game developers via the magazine and pre-conferences. The Gamesauce Conference makes its formal debut as an extension of the Casual Connect conference this July in Seattle.

You can learn more about the Gamesauce Conference, July 19 in Seattle, at www.gamesauce.org. Casual Connect follows on July 20-22. Professionals can purchase a discounted one-day pass to the Gamesauce Conference or may use their Casual Connect pass for entrance. Registration can be found at http://seattle.casualconnect.org/registration.html. More details on IGDA Women in Games at the Gamesauce Conference in this newsletter edition!

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Vancouver Film School Awards $50,000 Women in Games Scholarship

Vancouver Film School

Vancouver Film School, Canada's premier post-secondary entertainment arts institution, awarded the second annual Women in Games Scholarship earlier this month to Anne Dickerson, a former 4th grade teacher from Washington, DC. Established as a means to encourage aspiring female game designers and provide them with greater opportunities for a career in the game industry, the scholarship is valued at $49,250 and covers the full tuition to VFS's acclaimed one-year Game Design program, named by L.A. Times as a Top 10 school "favoured by industry recruiters".

A worthy recipient, Anne was an elementary school teacher at a challenging city school when she first began designing games in an effort to increase literacy and math skills, address behavioural issues, and encourage a love of learning amongst her students. The scholarship to VFS will allow Anne to experience one intensive year learning every facet of game design, from game theory to level design to game interface design, and help further Anne's ambition to create educational games.

"I am beyond thrilled to receive this great honor," says Anne. "As an elementary school teacher, I realized the significant impact games can have on student achievement, and since leaving the classroom, I have aspired to create effective educational games. I am confident that this award, along with the excellent education I will obtain through the VFS Game Design program, will bring me one step closer to achieving my goal of effecting systemic change in the field of education through games."

"Anne was the clear winner, despite intense competition with an increased number of applications compared to last year," says Benjamin Colling, Director of Admissions at VFS. "Anne applied to VFS's Game Design program with the intent of expanding her storytelling ability and game design skills so that she can learn how to make groundbreaking educational games that rival titles across all genres, including popular blockbusters. We are pleased to support her, and are confident that with her talent and drive she will be successful in accomplishing this goal."

Female VFS Game Design graduates have gone on to work successfully in the industry, from Tara Mustapha and Charmie Kim of Microsoft Game Studios to Pamela Livara of Vancouver's Slant Six, and Melanie Genereux of Longtail Studios in PEI.

In addition to the Women in Games Scholarship, VFS also awarded three other scholarships, thanks to the contributions of a number of Game Design Expo 2010 sponsors. Congratulations to the following scholarship winners: Aubrey Tennant from Ontario, Canada - $7,000 G4TechTV scholarship; Jie (Jacky) He from British Columbia, Canada - $5,000 Annex Pro scholarship; Brooke Fargo from British Columbia, Canada - $2,500 Radical Entertainment scholarship.

Vancouver Film School, founded in 1987, offers a proven education for everything in the entertainment industry. With 13 production-oriented programs and a world-leading one-year education model, VFS prepares students to join the creative economy. Students in the Game Design program learn to be part of any video game development team by learning all aspects of game design, from visual storytelling to level design principles to the production process, ultimately creating playable games themselves. Graduates have worked on such recent games as Mass Effect 2, ModNation Racers, Punch-Out!!, and Dawn of War II. You can learn more at www.vfs.com.

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The Future of Girls, Gaming and Gender

By Mindy Faber
Academic Manager, Interactive Arts and Media. Columbia College

The good news is that scores of recently released studies and surveys are challenging the out-dated myth that gaming is a "guy" thing. Females, it seems, now comprise an increasingly growing percentage not only of game players, but game developers as well. Women pioneers in the field, including many of those in the IGDA Women in Games SIG, have blazed new trails of equity for their younger counterparts to follow.

On the other hand, many deeply-rooted problems of gender parity in the gaming culture and industry, as well as some new disparities, prevail. What better time than now to introduce a forum for intergenerational dialogue and collaboration - one that can help change and deepen the conversation about gender and gaming?

One thing is clear, when it comes to female game play, the new generation of girl gamers have a lot to say.

"I for one (and I am positive there are more) actually have no interest in these pink fluffy games. I prefer shooting, killing, exploring, and adventuring in games like fallout 3, grand theft auto IV, and my personal favorite Unreal Tournament." While this young woman, E.J., voices her own struggle to counter the mis-perceptions about her game preferences, other young women are eschewing male-identified console games and gravitating instead toward new forms of digital games delivered over mobile phones and social networking sites that are used for social awareness, civic engagement, and cultural expression.

This varying perspectives are why we decided to organize the 3G Summit: The Future of Girls, Gaming and Gender. During the Summit, leading North American female game designers and scholars will come together with young women gamers on August 12-15 at Columbia College Chicago to look at the female voice in the digital gaming industry.

Co-organized by Columbia College Chicago's Department of Interactive Arts & Media, Open Youth Networks, and the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media, the 3G Summit is developed around the necessity for a long-term gender lens in the field of gaming and interactive digital play.

"As it evolves and matures, the game industry is looking to new voices and new perspectives in order to imagine its own future," says Los Angeles-based Tracy Fullerton, who will be among the professional mentors. "I can't think of a better place to start developing those voices than a gathering like the 3G Summit, where young women can begin to imagine themselves as creative leaders of that future."

The five leading female scholars and practitioners serving as mentors during the summit are Mary Flanagan, New York-based gaming scholar and the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College; Tracy Fullerton, Los Angeles-based writer, game designer and associate professor at USC's School of Cinematic Arts; Jennifer Jenson, Ontario-based game designer and associate professor of pedagogy and technology at York University; Susana Ruiz, Los Angeles-based media artist and co-founder of the design collective Take Action Games; and Erin Robinson, Chicago-based independent game designer.

If you cannot be in Chicago, you can still join in the conversation virtually. Our high school and college students have created a blog with polls, discussion forums, videos as well as links to our Facebook and Twitter feeds. Young women have so much to learn from you but we also much to gain by listening to them. Together we can rework our gaming industry and culture for the better.

Mindy FaberAbout Mindy Faber
Mindy Faber is a George W. Foster Peabody winning video artist and the founder of Open Youth Networks, a program of the Interactive Arts and Media Department at Columbia College in Chicago and the co-presenter of the 3G Summit: The Future of Girls, Gaming and Gender. Open Youth Networks empowers youth to use emergent technologies, games and social media for change.

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IndieCadeQ&A with IndieCade, featuring Stephanie Barrish, Founder and President, and Celia Pearce, Festival Chair

By Fiona Cherbak

IGDA Women in Games recently had the chance to speak with Stephanie Barrish and Celia Pearce, the powerhouse duo that produce IndieCade, the world's biggest independent games festival. Heading into its fifth year, the main IndieCade event is being held this October 8-10 at venues throughout Culver City, California and is expected to draw a record-breaking 5,000 attendees.

Left: Stephanie Barrish, IndieCade Founder and President; Right: Celia Pearce, IndieCade Festival Chair
Left: Stephanie Barrish, IndieCade Founder and President
Right: Celia Pearce, IndieCade Festival Chair

IGDA Women in Games: What was the genesis of IndieCade, and how did you both get involved?

Stephanie: IndieCade was a moment of inspiration when I was pregnant with my daughter. All of the sudden I looked around and realized that my small community was in the unique position of seeing the amazing cutting edge games and interactive work that was happening on the fringes, but most everyone else was not so lucky. The goal has been to bring this work to the light of day and to challenge the industry with limitless innovations and personally, I am further motivated by wanting to make the industry a broader more inclusive space for myself and for my children. Coming from both the film and the interactive industries, I realized that we were lacking the real equivalent of what Sundance has done both culturally and practically to push the film industry forward. We wanted to do the same good for the games industry.

We actually started working on the festival idea in 2005 and by the end of the year Celia was on board. It stuck. We shared the commitment. A little more than a year later, Sam Roberts joined us as Festival Director - fresh from Slamdance - sharing the vision as we set up our first E3 IndieCade Indie Games Showcase. We are like a family. Sam and Celia each baked their favorite cookies for the show and I made the largest pot of macaroni and cheese anyone had ever seen. Sometimes you meet people and you realize that you are in this for the long hall together. I am grateful for my companions on this journey.

Celia: I knew Stephanie from the Annenberg Center at USC. She had instigated the idea and was working with some of her former staff from the Institute for Media Literacy there, one of whom, Janine Fron, got me involved. I had been curating game and interactive media and art exhibits since 1995, and had co-produced a Alt+Ctrl, a festival of "alternative and independent games" at UC Irvine's Beall Center in 2003. It was very successful, and I had really wanted it to become a regular event, but the Center had other priorities. So when Janine and Stephanie approached me to get involved with IndieCade, it wasn't a hard call for me: I was "in" immediately. There were a number of personnel changes to get us to our current configuration. I was really happy when Sam came on-board because he already had a lot of "street" cred with the indie community, as well as experience producing the game component of Slamdance, and skills that filled some gaps. So we have a pretty nice little rock band going now.

IGDA Women in Games: What are some of the hard lessons you learned early on and along the way in bringing IndieCade to the independent game developer community?

Stephanie: I don't know if I would call these hard lessons, but the hardest thing has been to build something with absolutely no resources and encountering a lot of skepticism. I think that people don't realize that we are even more indie than a lot of the games we showcase. It has been incredibly hard work to pull off these events on our own like this, but I would say the overall experience is not about hard lessons at all. The experience has been one of commonality of purpose and a groundswell of support. Along the way we have had innumerable people dedicated -- and I mean really dedicated to helping this work. There are a lot of unsung heroes - from some of the initial team who helped us with the first plans to the woman who really put herself on the line for us on our first show and then mopped up after the spilled beer on the gallery floor. I guess the hardest lesson is that I don't know how to thank and acknowledge them enough for their contributions.

Celia: For practical reasons, we had to significantly scale down our aspirations because we simply could not find the resources, especially with the economy so broken, to do the massive event we had initially envisioned. So, first, we started small, which I think is always a good plan. IndieCade 2008 was in a gallery in Bellevue, Washington, and was small and intimate, but everyone came away saying it was the best indie event they'd been to, which got us on our way. Second, before we had even launched the festival, we had the opportunity to do showcases for some larger events, such as E3 and Nottingham Game City. This was a lot of work, brought it us visibility and helped us raise brand awareness.

Both of these things contributed to the third component: Building community. I think this has really been our strong suit. We've had so much help and good will from the indie game community; each year we get more and more people volunteering to be part of IndieCade and help create our event. This year pretty much all the conference programming is being organized by volunteer committees, all people who approached US and said: hey, we want to be part of IndieCade. It's so exciting. This is going to enable us to scale up this year and really grow the festival organically, through the contribution of all these people who are committed to the same goal we are: supporting indie game development. 2010 is our second year in Culver City, which has been a fantastic partnership.

I would say number four, we have such a great team. Stephanie, Sam and I as the core management, we all work really well and enjoy being together. Stephanie has this amazing ability to hypnotize people... she met the Mayor of Culver City at a party and within a couple of weeks we were on the road to making that our permanent home. We really love working with the distributed format across multiple venues because it makes it feel like a real festival. The City loves us to because we are bringing renewed attention to the downtown area and trying to benefit all the businesses there with our presence.

IGDA Women in Games: What are some of the chief benefits and success stories for up-and-coming designers that have participated in IndieCade in the past?

Stephanie: I think there are obvious benefits like getting a publishing deal, but I think that ultimately building a community and celebrating innovation itself has been an equally important benefit. I love hearing that a game we featured has been picked up by Nintendo or PSN or Xbox, or that a team of renegade developers are able to sell their game on Steam and stay independent - knowing that we have helped facilitate all of that. But even more I think that stories like some of our gamemakers meeting through IndieCade and then building a game together, and seeing new young gamemakers awe-inspired to meet some of the creators we have been working with for years are what I find to be most beneficial. I love that we build and support an expansive community.

I would also like to say that one of the nicest things for me is seeing designers who have become successful, come and be available for each new wave of creator and even reaching into their own pockets to help the developers come and show their games. I love facilitating that mentoring and patronage.

Celia: We are often asked this question, but the thing that always gets overlooked is that IndieCade itself is the biggest success story of all. We walk the walk. We are truly indie. Stephanie has bootstrapped this whole operation, we've build this thing up from literally nothing, meeting in coffee shops, and working out of our homes, figuring out clever way to get things done without spending a ton of money, but still having a really classy operation. Since our first showcase at E3 in 2007, we've doubled attendance every year, we've grown our sponsorship exponentially, and we've basically established ourselves as a regular fixture in downtown Culver City. In three years we have gone from a totally unknown entity, to a deadline that developers aim for in creating their games. We are a destination for international developers, but also for publishers who are trying to find the next cool thing. So I really think WE are the success story of IndieCade. In 2009, we were on the front page of the L.A. Times, which called us the "Sundance of the game industry."

We're incredibly proud of the increasing number of games that are getting visibility and publication deals in part due to being part of IndieCade: "And Yet It Moves" and "The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom" are just two examples. We've also introduced some international projects to the U.S., such as Papermint, an amazing independently-created MMOG out of Austria.

The other big success story, which I think you'll hear more about in the coming months, is Codename. This is a new company that the IndieCade partners have launched with Psychic Bunny, a small LA-based game studio. Codename is an independent game label that we created to fill a really important gap in the game development ecosystem: we were seeing all these indie games which were big hits in the festival circuit getting a lot of publisher interest, but for whatever reason, they weren't getting made. In some cases this was because the publishers wanted to own the IP, in others the publishers didn't want to pay for the games' development. So we found this niche where we can support indie developers even further by helping them get funded and distributed, similar to the way independent film studios operate. I can't say more about this yet, but keep an eye out in the next six months. We're positioned to have a major impact in the indie space.

IGDA Women in Games: What is the role that game companies and other games industry representatives play with IndieCade, and what kind of response have they given you?

Stephanie: IndieCade has a large group of active advisors from across the industry and beyond. Many of them are incredibly active in both the creative and practical workings of IndieCade. We have brilliant and important people willing to put a lot of time and effort into working with us. I think that our advisors are really proof positive of the incredible support we have from the industry. And as we have built our reputation and our brand gradually the marketing departments are following suit and we are getting support and building more relationships with industry sponsors.

Celia: In terms of industry's role in IndieCade... it really varies. We have a lot of individuals helping us out that represent some of the most successful indie game studios. That Game Company, for instance, has been a big part of IndieCade, working on conference programming, loaning us gear, etc. I expect to see this more since a number of the new companies coming up have former student volunteers who have worked our events. We also have volunteer participation and sponsorship from a number of schools: USC, Parsons, SCAD and Georgia Tech (my "day gig") to name a few. But we also have people from bigger studios, such as Naughty Dog, because I think a lot of creative people in the game industry see indies as the future of innovation.

Publishers traditionally come to festivals to see games that are pre-vetted by judges and then market-tested by festival attendees. So it's sort of a petri dish. They can see right away what is getting attention from players. So we have an important role to play there. But increasingly, publishers are starting to set up indie divisions and initiatives. The film industry has done this for many years: indies play a final role in the film ecosystem, by creating films that take a lower-investment but have the possibility of making a much larger profit if they do well, and also as a testing-ground to cultivate new talent. I often use the example of Christopher Nolan, who directed the indie hit Mimento, and later went on to direct The Dark Knight. I think game publishers are starting to catch on, so as a result we now have people like Electronic Arts, Sony PlayStation Home, Nintendo, and Activision coming in as sponsors because they want to develop more visibility and cultivate good will and relationships with indie developers.

IGDA Women in Games: Where do you see IndieCade going in terms of global presence, festival scope and locations, in the next 5-10 years?

Celia: For now, I think we are really happy with our home in Culver City. Stephanie and Sam both live a short distance away, and my part-time home in LA is also nearby. The City itself, as well as the businesses in Culver City, have been great, so we're happy to keep growing there as long as we can fit. 2010 will have some new features: We are partnering with Come Out and Play, the main Big Games festival in the U.S., and creating Come Out and Play West as part of IndieCade. This means we will be activating downtown Culver City with more public events, which I think will be a win for everyone. There are not really any indie game festivals now that have family-oriented programming so we are expanding in that area as well. We are also introducing a new format, game cafes, to allow some of our partners and sponsors to showcase their indie titles, and at the same time bring more business to Culver City restaurants. We will also continue to do IndieCade Europe, our European showcase at Nottingham Game City.

Long-term, I'd like to see us grow, but not too much, because I think the people who come to IndieCade really cherish it as an intimate community-building event. I would like to see more involvement from industry. I think other companies have a lot to benefit. For instance, Apple and Google ought to join us because the iPhone and IPad as well as Android platforms are increasingly popular for games, so they have a lot to gain from building relationships with our constituency. It's hard to imagine IndieCade not growing, only because that's been the trend. From our humble beginnings in Bellevue, we have grown phenomenally in the past three years, so I expect that, with a lot of help from the indie community as well as sponsorship and partnerships with industry, that trend is likely to continue. Also I think public awareness of indie games is growing (and we are certainly contributing to that), so the overall indie game scene is really positioned to continue on its current growth trajectory, and we want to contribute to that in any way we can.

IndieCade is open to the public and draws a diverse audience of enthusiasts of all ages and savvy professionals interested in cutting-edge digital media, game developers, publishers and artists. Register online for your tickets to pedestrian-friendly downtown Culver City to enjoy free game play, artist talks, screenings, a conference and more at IndieCade's annual festival in 2010: www.indiecade.com/index.php?/events/2010.

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Working in a Male Domain

By Julie Prescott
Dept. of Clinical Psychology
The University of Liverpool

This article presents some of the findings from a much larger body of work (PhD) on female game workers. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the game workers who took the time to complete my study questionnaire. The sample consisted of data from over 450 women currently working in the games industry, the majority of which worked in the UK and USA. The sample consisted mostly of women who worked in a developmental capacity, with some working in a non-developmental role and some academia.

Men dominate the computer games industry, both as developers and gamers. The research intended to gain a deeper understanding of the attitudes, motivations and aspirations of women who have broken into this male domain. Gaining an understanding of women in the industry may be beneficial in attracting more women and also highlight the industry as a potential career for future generations of women. Encouraging more women into male dominated occupations is one strategy for minimizing gendered occupational segregation and the many inequalities that come with it.

The research found a number of similarities between women in the games industry and those working in other industries across the ICT and SET sectors (i.e. long hour's culture, low gender identity, young and a lack of women with families). The women in the industry tended to be young, single or living with a partner, childless, educated to degree level or above, and they tended to worked full time.

Over three quarters had previously worked outside of the industry (the most popular industry being film and TV, followed by IT and then retail) and only 28% had worked in the industry for more than 8 years. The majority also played computer games in their leisure time.

These demographics may indicate that the industry attracts and/or retains a certain type of women; a woman whose lifestyle and passion for games suits the needs of the industry. Although the majority played games in their leisure time it was apparent from the analysis that women don't need to play games to have viable career within the industry.

In general, participants had a negative view of the career progression of women within the industry and they recognized that barriers exist. Despite some negative findings, a number of positive issues were found. Women in the industry were:

  • Highly motivated both extrinsically (external) and intrinsically (internal)
  • Highly satisfied with both their job and organisation (although to a lesser extent with their organisation)
  • Highly congruent with their job and organisation (although to a lesser extent with their organisation)
  • They have high self esteem at work and high occupational self-efficacy
  • And the majority intended to remain in the industry in five years time

Through emphasizing these positive aspects, the games industry could enhance its image as a potential career for women. The industry may also benefit from highlighting the various roles and skills required in the industry; as well as the various backgrounds, both educational and occupational that women come into the industry from.

Julie PrescottAbout Julie Prescott
Julie Prescott is studying for a PhD in the School of Population, Community and Health, at the University of Liverpool, UK. The PhD study is looking at the career aspirations and motivations of women working in the computer games industry. Prior to undertaking her PhD, Julie was a researcher on the Breaking Barriers in the workplace project at the University of Liverpool. Julie's background is in psychology and women's studies and she has a particular interest in women's careers, especially in terms of barriers and drivers, occupational segregation and the experiences of women working in male dominated occupations.

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IGDA: Women in Games SIG
2010-2011 IGDA Women in Games Steering Committee Elected

The polls closed on June 30th and the results of the IGDA WIG SIG Election are in!

A big thank you to everyone who voted and thank you also to the tremendously qualified individuals who ran; Ernest Adams, Brenda Brathwaite, Norma Jean Crippen, Tristin Hightower, Sheri Graner Ray, Sheri Rubin, Mary-Margaret Walker, and Cat Wendt.

We're excited to announce that our new Steering Committee is comprised of:

  • Brenda Brathwaite
  • Tristin Hightower
  • Sheri Graner Ray
  • Sheri Rubin
  • Cat Wendt

Congratulations to all of you!

Because the WIG SIG membership voted to have the new Steering Committee select a chair, the new crew got together and decided that your Co-Chairs will be Brenda Brathwaite and Cat Wendt. Congratulations to each of them!

We would also like to take a moment to recognize the previous Steering Committee - Fiona Cherbak, Amanda d'Adesky, Tristin Hightower, Alex Raymond, Anne Toole and Tina Tyndal - thank you so much for everything you have done for the WIG SIG. The generous contribution of your time and effort has, if we don't say so ourselves, helped make the WIG SIG one of the most vibrant, active communities in the IGDA. We wish you the best of luck with all of your future endeavors.


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Gamesauce Conference

IGDA Women in Games at Gamesauce Conference - July 19

Planning to attend Casual Connect in Seattle next month? Come a day early and attend their new leadership forum, the Gamesauce Conference, scheduled on Monday, July 19 at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel. IGDA Women in Games is presenting two panels at the conference. Full program and registration info is available online at: http://gamesauce.org/conference.html.

If you already planning to attend Casual Connect or are based in Seattle or Vancouver, we encourage you to attend the Gamesauce Conference! Following are details on the two panels presented by IGDA Women in Games.

Building the Next Generation of Rockstars - 10 am
The video game industry is a competitive market; however there is one critical factor that can help professionals build a solid foundation and become a rockstar in their respective career, a mentor. This panel will review the personal stories of industrial professionals and the mentor(s) in their lives, discussing how they found their mentor(s), the critical milestones in their careers and how they were able to overcome the situations successfully... or not, what they could have done differently in order to avoid the same pitfalls.

Successful Female Game Devs Speak: It Pays to Hire Women in Games - 11 am
Q: What do you get when you hire women to develop games? A: Successful, fun games that sell! Come hear women from different experience levels, companies, and genres share their experiences in the game industry, plus the learnings and successful games that resulted. Yes, we do need more women in the game industry! We need to make sure girls and women are aware of the opportunities, and make sure employers are aware of the benefits.

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Women in Games Conference U.K.

3G Summit: The Future of Girls, Gaming and Gender

Columbia College hosts the 1st Annual 3G Summit: Girls, Gaming and Gender

 

The 3G Summit: The Future of Girls, Gaming and Gender is scheduled for August 12-15 in Chicago, IL. The 3G Summit is a visionary 4-day initiative that brings 50 urban teenage girls together for intensive dialogue, inquiry, game-play and mentorship. This free public event feature presentations by, and conversations with, five leading women gaming scholars and design artists on the topic of the future of girls, gaming and gender. Organizers are working to support the empowerment of young women to speak out for, and participate in, changing the gaming culture and raising awareness of female gamers and their perspectives. The event includes a Public Forum, panel presentations and moderated conversation onstage.

The 3G Summit includes 3G EXPO and Game Design Challenge on Sunday, August 15 from 1 pm to 3 pm. This free event invites the public to play gender inclusive games produced by women and girl game designers and other leading Chicago game companies. Participants will view the actual prototypes developed by five teams of fifty girls created during the workshops and have a chance to vote on prize-winning designs. One prototype will be chosen to be developed into an actual playable game by seniors in the Department of Interactive Arts and Media at Columbia College.

 
3G Summit: The Future of Girls, Gaming and Gender
Photo by Saverio Truglia. Retouching by Brian York.
The 3G Summit: The Future of Girls, Gaming, and Gender is made possible in part by grants from the McCormick Foundation, Illinois Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Illinois General Assembly, and the Chicago Foundation for Women. It additionally is sponsored by Columbia College Chicago and its "Critical Encounters: Image + Implication" initiative, as well as Resolution Digital Studios, and Show Department Inc.

For in-depth information, please see their student blog (http://imamp.colum.edu/3gsummit/) or visit the official site at http://www.colum.edu/3gsummit.

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IGDA: Women in Games SIG

Become an IGDA WIG SIG Member

Support the IGDA WIG SIG and become a member today! Your support helps us continue our mission.

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Contribute to the IGDA Women in Games Newsletter and Website

If you would like to contribute content or articles to the IGDA Women in Games website or newsletter, please contact us at: wigsignewsletter@igda.org

If you want to join our IGDA Women in Games Mailing List please sign up here.

You can also join the IGDA Women in Games community on Facebook and LinkedIn or follow us on Twitter.

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IGDA Women in Games Newsletter
For more information please contact wigsig@igda.org

IGDA: Women in Games SIG