IGDA Women in Games SIG

Friday 14 August 2009

Small Hr

Editor's Letter

by Tina Tyndal

The team set the bar high with the inaugural issue of the IGDA WIG SIG Newsletter however thanks to many generous contributors; I do believe we've managed to outdo ourselves in our latest issue. More from Tina
Small Hr

Professional Spotlight:
Kellee Santiago and Mary Kirchoff

by Tina Tyndal

This quarter I spoke to Kellee and Mary to learn more about their personal and professional experiences in the video game industry and collect words of advice for peers and newcomers to the industry. Find out what these exciting women have to say. Small Hr

Action-Packed Short Form Games an Ideal Date

by Sande Chen

Young girls are enthralled by video games just as much as young boys, but in their teenage years, girls' interests typically turn to issues dealing with dating and socialization. By transporting video games into the realm of social interaction and dating, the act of playing a video game becomes socially acceptable to teenage girls. But what sort of short-form game would be appropriate for a date? And how would that dynamic be? Read on to find out. Small Hr

Gamers in Real Life (G.I.R.L.)

and Their Impact on the Gaming Industry
by Torrie Dorrell, Sara Kaplan and Tina Tyndal

G.I.R.L is a scholarship program sponsored by SOE whose mission includes positively impacting the depiction of women in video games by influencing content so that they are more appealing to women and a wider variety of gamers and so much more. Learn more about G.I.R.L. and their many contributions to the industry. Small Hr

Making a Game About Girls Without Pink Sparkly Ponies

by Latoya Peterson

Latoya played Alexander Tran and Mike Couture's demo of their game Allie and Mary at the Baltimore IGDA Student and Indy Games Exhibition and discovered a game that was more compelling than any she's played in a long time. Find out why. Small Hr

New Approaches to Women and Games

by Phaedra Boinodiris

The women in games environment has changed dramatically, there is no doubt about it. Women play games. It's is a widely accepted fact that has not escaped publishers and investors. So what is our new frontier? Read on to find out. Small Hr

The 8th Annual Women in Gaming Awards, Microsoft

by Karen Randhawa

High-caliber industry talent were presented with awards spanning four categories at the 8th Annual Women in Gaming Awards held at GDC. Read on to see the award recipients. Small Hr

The Advancement of Women Professionals

by Merrilea Mayo

The plight of women in the games industry is eerily reminiscent of the experiences of women faculty in science and engineering departments, including low representation, social marginalization, lower salaries, and intense workloads that engender incompatibility between family and career life. Thus have these professional women become secondary citizens in the technical workforce. How do we change this dichotomy? Read on to find out.

Small Hr

Editor's Letter

The team set the bar high with the inaugural issue of the IGDA Women in Games SIG Newsletter however thanks to many generous contributors; I do believe we've managed to outdo ourselves in our latest issue.


When we created the newsletter, it was our goal to provide members and friends of IGDA Women in Games with a valuable resource, one that showcases industry newcomers and luminaries, spotlights the work and innovations of professionals and students, and provides information on events, education and outreach programs that support women in games. In total, this information will help us build community and spark conversations. Working together we can make a positive impact on the game industry with respect to gender balance in the workplace and the marketplace.


Working on the newsletter has been an invaluable experience for me, allowing me to learn new information and make new friends. I hope that readers have a similar experience and will engage with one another to discuss articles, explore new ideas and participate in IGDA Women in Games programs.


We can't be successful without your support. Please consider contributing articles to future issues of the Newsletter or participating in the Newsletter Survey. Your feedback will be kept confidential and is invaluable in helping us continue to refine content so that we can better serve the needs of Members and Friends.


Try to stay cool and I hope you enjoy the summer issue of the IGDA Women in Games SIG Newsletter.



Tina Tyndal


back to top

Small Hr

Professional Spotlight

Kellee Santiago,
Mary Kirchoff,
Chief Marketing Office
38 Studios

Every quarter the IGDA Women in Games Special Interest Group spotlights inspiring women who make positive contributions to the video game industry. In this issue, I had the opportunity to speak to Kellee Santiago, Co-Founder and President of thatgamecompany and Mary Kirchoff, Chief Marketing Officer, 38 Studios, to learn more about their personal and professional experiences in the industry and advice for students and peers.

Q&A with Kellee Santiago

What sparked your interest in video games and the video game industry?

I've always played video games - having a brother who is two years younger than I am helped; we played games together, turning a lot of non-cooperative games into cooperative ones. Also, my Dad worked in software engineering and we always had a computer around. He was really liberal at letting us play with his computer at a really early age and so I was very comfortable with them. One of the first things he taught us was to copy and back everything up on the system and then from there we could do anything we wanted to.


As far as what sparked my interest in making video games, originally I studied theatre at NYU and I was interested in creating original works using new and interactive media. That's what brought me to the USC MFA in Interactive Media program. In my second semester at USC I took a course taught by Tracy Fullerton on critical theory and the history of game design, which was an evaluation of what is play and its role in human history leading up to digital games.


Approaching games from this perspective opened up my eyes as to how video games had just scratched the surface of what's possible, even with what has already been accomplished in games as a whole, and the existing potential. I find that really exciting and that's what drew me to the video game industry.


What are the three key attributes that makes the video game industry attractive to you?

The video game industry is a renaissance industry, one where professionals have talents that are multidisciplinary. The ranges of skills and personalities on the teams I've worked with are some of the widest and diverse that I have encountered, coming from more traditional mediums such as theater and film.


Secondly, the lack of a structured or well-defined production process! A reoccurring topic on the IGDA forums is how job titles in the video game industry change from company to company, making it hard to communicate the types of skills you possess on your resume because each company has their own process. But there's a positive side to this that I find attractive , because it means that no one has found the "best" process to make a game yet, allowing us to make our own rules as a new studio.


Finally, attending the most recent E3 and the Sony Keynote I realized fan culture is still prevalent in our industry. It's hard to get into the press conference, as E3 is only open to industry professionals and press; however, attendees are genuinely excited about the games and the products being announced and cheer. Games are still an industry where the biggest fans are also the folks who are making them. There's a lot of love and appreciation and I hope it's something we never lose as an industry.


Where do you derive inspiration for your games?

There's a redundancy in game design in the past which often stems from the design process beginning with the mechanics like, "we're going to make a racing game that can do this new thing!" This even occurs in experimental games where people say "oh wow players can do this new really cool thing" and then they'll make a game out of that. What Tracy and Chris taught me at USC is a process of starting development with a message and an emotion that you try to communicate to players through your game. When you start with this approach to game design out of the gate, chances are that you will do something totally different.

As to where thatgamecompany derives our inspiration from, I think it that's really personal to whatever mood we're in. So far we've taken inspiration from nature, philosophy, theology, human purpose and what drives us.


What kinds of perspectives do you look for in your team?

I definitely look for people who have a rich background and a multidisciplinary skill set, people who of course love to make games but also love art and communication as a whole and take inspiration from many different sources. It's one of the biggest assets creatively, to know that you possess a huge lexicon from which you can draw inspiration.


We definitely find a lot of value from each discipline when someone's had a rich background and a wide range of interests. When we're stumped on a project, one developer may reference an artist from the medieval era and another may mention a philosopher and together we can come up with a new idea or solution.


What types of emotions do you want to inspire within people who play your games?

All of our games are very different from one another. With Cloud we wanted to elicit a feeling of innocence and playfulness within players, like a child staring up at the clouds and daydreaming.


flOw was more of a practical application of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi flow theory on how people can have fun and what his philosophy would look like if it were applied to games, making them more accessible to more players.


The basis for Flower was to get players into their zone by immersing them into a huge flower field. Flower also evolved from Jenova's personal experiences of coming from a huge metropolitan city like Shanghai and the experience of being in a wide expanse of nature when he came to California. He had never experienced nature in this context before and while it was amazing he also began to miss the city as well, and as a result the balance of opposites became a secondary theme in the game.


Can you tell us about your first break in the video game industry and the evolution of your professional career? Looking back is there anything you have done differently?

The first job I had in the video game industry was an internship at Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment where I assisted producers. Some of the work I did included testing, evaluation, and localization for video games and the work gave me experience with the production process of video games.


What really got me to where I am today was a student project called Cloud where I met Jenova Chen (Creative Director, thatgamecompany) and we discovered kindred spirits with one another, sharing a similar vision and ability to work well with one another. Our work on Cloud eventually led to the foundation of our studio, thatgamecompany.


If there's anything that I would have done differently in my career, I would have made more games, as everything you learn is based on projects and applying what you've learned. I wish I had spent more time doing that, picking up any tool possible and making more video games.


What advice would you give to individuals who want to pursue a career in the video game industry? Is there anything that women should be particularly cognizant of?

Make a lot of games.


Internships are one way to approach pursuing a career in the industry and they allow individuals to gain experience on projects. However, while this can be very useful, I see a lot of younger designers and students who want to make huge RPGs and action adventure games. They can be fantastic ideas but they are a huge block in terms of actually making games which are the best assets you can have on your portfolio.


Think about developing smaller ideas that you can execute in a small amount of time with simple toolsets. Creating your own games will give you the experience and confidence in making decisions on larger projects because you have worked on them firsthand.


Is there anything that women should be cognizant of in order to be successful when pursuing a career in the video game industry?

Often in this industry Women in Games conferences pop up and people question why they occur.


I organized a women's "book club" for games in L.A. (Note: if you live in the L.A. area and want to participate in the next event you can contact Kellee at kellee@thatgamecompany.com for more information). We'll pick a game, play it and then talk about it, but then we also exchange stories of what we're experiencing personally and professionally in our lives. I've found these meetings to be very useful because it helps build camaraderie among people who think similarly to myself. It helps to talk to people who share similar perspectives to you because often you get used to being the minority or the only person in a room with your beliefs and you forget that there are other people out there who think just like you. I also find a lot of value in learning from other people's experiences.


With undergraduate students, we should provide them with job training to help prepare them for the work environment. I often find that they lack actual job training such as how do you behave in a team meeting or how should you respond to feedback and what is good vs. bad feedback.


I think women shouldn't be afraid to connect with other women in games, as I have found a lot of benefit simply by hanging out with each other, without any specific agenda.


What are your thoughts on game competitions for women?

This is one of those loaded topics again! I can speak from personal experience submitting to competitions and festivals such as Slamdance (R.I.P) and the IGF, that the opportunity to meet other developers in your community is extremely useful. Because it's not like "networking" - you are there, with your game, and you get to connect to other people through their games. I think having an event like this for women could be extremely useful by allowing them to connect with each other in this very meaningful way.


Do you see a shift in the number of women pursuing careers in the industry?

I definitely see more women entering the industry who want to become game designers. This growth is awesome; however, we need to ensure that these young women get meaningful experiences, training and mentoring so that they are prepared for the job market and can be successful.


One frustration, related to this topic, is that although we do see growth in the number of women professionals entering the game industry, they aren't proportionally represented in many of the professional game conferences, particularly among speakers. I would prefer that the distribution of folks participating in the conference be proportional to the professional landscape. It always seems that there are the same 5-6 women who participate when there are many other amazing, hardworking women who would be excellent candidates. I know we only make up 10% of the industry, but then at least let's see 10% of next year's GDC speaker lineup also be women!


Do you think that the industry is aware of this issue within conference participants or ignoring it?

Not to make one broad generalization because every conference is organized differently but you won't change your ways unless you make it a top priority.


I was blown away when I went to this past year's TED conference with the broad representation of culture and gender in their speaker line up. At the same time, representing diversity is probably one of their main priorities when organizing their conference and so they do the legwork to accomplish this.


Other than previous IGDA conferences I'm not aware of any other groups who make this a top priority within the video game industry.


Do you see and have you experienced gender distinctions in the workplace (different treatment based on gender)? If so, are these distinctions analogous to other industries, why/why not?

[Laughs] This question is so loaded and has so many factors which contribute to it. Personally, there are definitely been times where I have had to go above and beyond the norm to make sure that my perspective is heard.


I've also seen distinctions come into play as a result of how women present themselves in a conversation or a debate resulting in them becoming easily dismissed but I've also been in meetings with Jenova where we represent thatgamecompany and because he's a man, he is the one who is more referred to. We definitely play, or try to play that dynamic to our advantage and can do so because of our partnership. The unfortunate reality is that there are folks who want to hear from just "the Dynamic Girl" or just "the Asian Guy." Sometimes it's just the way it is.


Is there a way that we can combat gender distinction in the workplace? What remedies do you recommend to address the situation?

I'm in a position where I can hire people according to the needs of our team and there are defiantly times when one perspective becomes dominant in a team and you want to balance it out. As a team leader it's my responsibility to help ensure that no one perspective becomes overly dominant.


In your opinion, what can video game industry professionals do to help increase the number of women pursuing careers in the industry?

Just do it! I'm not saying we are being lazy, but it's a similar situation to why there are only 5-6 women who present at conferences; women are just super-duper busy at their jobs. However, it's important for women to have access to mentor. All of my mentors, with the exception of Tracy Fullerton, have been men; they were the individuals who made themselves available to me.


We also need to challenge the assumption that professionals cannot have a high quality of life and be successful. At thatgamecompany we make it a priority to provide staff with a high quality of life as it is an asset to attracting talent and the long term success of the company. I'm amazed by my friends in the industry who do work in crunch environments and I think that they should know better. We didn't crunch on Flower even though most of the staff here are under the age of 25 (and shouldn't "know better").It's possible to create a great game without crunch, you just have to challenge the assumption.


What is your favorite game of all time and why?

The last game I played that kept me up way past my bedtime was Indigo Prophecy. Up until the point where you are fighting aliens from a previous era, it was a really interesting story with a narrative that really engaged me. Also the way that they handled the dialogue choices felt so personal and the mood and setting were just enchanting to me.


What are you playing/reading for fun lately?

I'm still playing Pixel Junk Monsters with my boyfriend every Sunday as part of our weekend wind down. It's so great! I just finished reading "The Patchwork Girl of Oz," which is actually the first Oz book I've read. It was really interesting to read a children's story from a completely different era and see how they thought children should be taught.


Parting words? Words to live by?

This may be too touchy feely but it's something my brother told me when I was having a stressful day:


Even when it might feel like you're alone in your company and everyone is disrespecting or disagreeing with you, just remember that your universe is filled with love and respect. It's your friends and family that count and you can't let those bad days recontextualize the reality of who you are.


Small Hr

Q&A with Mary Kirchoff

Can you tell us about your first break in the video game industry and the evolution of your professional career? Looking back is there anything you would do differently?

I worked in, around, or was part of the development teams of many of the intellectual properties created and owned by TSR and ultimately Wizards of the Coast and was peripherally connected to the licensed versions of those brands as video games in the very early MicroProse, then Interplay and Bioware days. I became more actively involved in the video game licensing approval process when I assumed brand and business management responsibilities for the D&D game and branded worlds in the early 2000s (Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Dark Sun, etc.), which meant stewardship of them as intellectual properties.


I stepped through the looking glass and fully entered the video game industry as an employee when my dear and oldest friend in the gaming and book publishing industries, Bob Salvatore, introduced me to 38 Studios. I met the people on the team, heard the first inklings of the IP we've lovingly codenamed Copernicus, and I was hooked.


Looking back, I'd have had to split myself in two to do anything differently, because I wouldn't give up my experiences in paper games and the opportunity to be at the helm of D&D, the oldest and most beloved fantasy gaming franchise. But I do have essence of career envy for the vision and courage of former TSR comrades like Warren Spector, who made the leap from paper to electronic gaming in the relative infancy of the video game industry.


What are the three key attributes that makes the video game industry attractive to you?

It's cutting edge and forward-thinking entertainment, blending the elements of interactive storytelling and movie-level visuals, two of my passions. It requires me to be current with pop culture trends, a lifelong interest that keeps me young at heart. And it makes me cool to my teenage sons and their friends.


What excites you about working at 38 Studios?

Working daily on the same side of the creative desk as Bob Salvatore is always fun and invigorating. I was sold on the company's people when there were less than 15 of us, and that has only increased as the numbers have risen. In my experience, the opportunities to stretch and learn are exponentially greater at a smaller company like 38 than at a well-established and insulated large corporation. There's no place to hide. Oh, and the old brand maven finds the Copernicus IP amazing and limitless in its potential.


Do you see gender distinctions in the workplace? If so, are these distinctions analogous to other industries, why/why not?

Practically speaking, there just are more men in this industry than women, both as consumers and professionals. That's changing for a variety of reasons, though, including that more women are playing games and choosing careers in alignment with their interests. The relative youth of the video game industry, even in comparison to the larger gaming industry, may be a factor in the ratio of men to women as well. It was the same when I started in paper games, but the ration of women to men there now is probably closer to 40/60.


Can you tell us about what your personal experiences have been like as a woman working in the video game industry?

My experiences working as a human being in video games have been largely great. If conflicts arise, as they will in any industry manned by humans, I don't assume it's because I'm a woman and my co-worker has made some judgment about that. I don't let myself become victimized by someone else's behavior, male or female . . . at least not for long.


I've heard concerns about gender inequality in the video game industry, but I never (OK, rarely), let gender factor into my behavior. That kind of thinking simply exacerbates any divide and frequently masks the real problems. If I'm guilty of anything gender related as a game industry professional, it's choosing to see the ratio of men to women as a differentiating advantage for me.


What advice would you give to individuals who want to pursue a career in the video game industry? Is there anything that women should be particularly cognizant of?

Be an employee of the highest integrity and professionalism, regardless of gender, and you will be a vital instrument of change in the workplace and succeed beyond your wildest dreams. Keep your eyes and heart open to unexpected opportunities and left turns, and don't be afraid to take them.


In your opinion, what should video game industry professions do to help increase the number of women pursuing careers in the field?

I would have the same advice for any industry: Hire the best person available for the job, regardless of gender, and provide flexible work hours and company-sponsored or subsidized daycare facilities for fathers and mothers.


What is your favorite game of all time and why?

It's gotta be D&D, if only because of the unexpectedly enormous impact it's had on my life and career. It's funny how in my youth I was a little embarrassed (OK, a lot), to be seen as a D&D-playing geek. But working on the brand for so many years, seeing its impact on the world and its socially redeeming qualities (I could list tons), makes me proud beyond words, even before it became chic to be geek. I love that it utilizes both right- and left-brained skills (it teaches kids math and reading), and requires imagination and a willingness to get out of (or over) yourself. It's just plain fun you can play on any level.


What are you playing/reading for fun lately?

Reading is still my #1 hobby, although I don't read fantasy books when I'm writing or editing them for fear of unconscious imitation. I like to read other genres and even non-fiction to expand my references. I just finished No Ordinary Time, the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, partly because the author lives near 38 Studios and I'm still susceptible to author glow. Game-wise, summer is too short wherever you live, so right now I'm outside playing golf. I dabble at WoW, but I have to be really careful not to lose myself in the environments, ignore the quests, etc., and completely lose track of time exploring; I'm Lewis or Clark, not Conan. I love the simplicity and accessibility of the Wii. I enjoy group board and casual games, like Pictionary and Apples to Apples, and even the family card games of my childhood, like Pinochle and Cribbage.


Parting words? Words to live by?

Thanks for listening to a summary of my twenty-five year career.



Thank you so much for your participation, Kellee and Mary!

back to top

Small Hr

Action-Packed Short Form Games an Ideal Date

This blog entry originally appeared on Game Design Aspect of the Month for April 2009's topic Designing Quality 2 - 3 Hour Games and is reproduced with permission.


At GDC 2005 and GDC 2006, as co-founders of the non-profit, Girls in Games, Inc., Michelle Sorger and I conducted the popular "Attracting Women to Game Development" roundtables, which focused on recruitment and retention of women in the game industry. One comment during a discussion about bringing games into the lives of teenage girls has intrigued me over the years: a suggestion that the industry create 2 - 3 hour narrative-based games that teenage boys and girls could enjoy together, akin to going out to the movies.


Young girls, according to research, are enthralled by video games just as much as young boys, but in their teenage years, girls' interests typically turn to issues dealing with dating and socialization. Video games just like any type of sciences or maths are commonly viewed as interests for females who are socially awkward and undesirable. Therefore, girls veer away from the very subjects that could make them employable in the video game industry years from now. For years, people have said the issue is not that young female college freshmen are not interested in computer programming, but that teenage and middle school girls are not interested in computer programming. We're wasting our efforts if we devote all our energies to the college level.


But by transporting video games into the realm of social interaction and dating, the act of playing a video game becomes socially acceptable to teenage girls. It becomes part of the dating ritual, like going to a club or a movie. But what sort of short-form game would be appropriate for a date? And how would that dynamic be?


Normally, when boys and girls play video games together, boys end up playing the game. This has been noted in several studies of games used in educational settings. There are many explanations for this: girls typically are not video game literate and girls' play patterns differ from boys. Noah Falstein in a GDC 2009 session noted that when girls play, one takes the steering wheel while the others crowd around and give comments. For girls, no particular person is in control whereas boys are continually jockeying for control of the controller. Moreover, girls are not comfortable playing a game without knowing exactly how everything works. As Sheri Graner Ray has often stated, even back in the arcade age, a boy was playing the game while a girl stood watching.


However, I would posit that while girls' lack of controller dominance may discourage educational theorists who would want girls to participate (and learn) from games, this is perfectly OK in a social setting. No girl wants the possibility of failure in front of boy and repeated failure only leads to frustration. As casual game developers know, the more a casual player fails at a game, the more likely she is to stop playing the game. In addition, when considering gender play patterns, it simply follows that a boy playing the game and a girl watching is a normal situation. And a girl's lack of controller dominance does not mean that she is not enjoying the game.


Anecdotally speaking, when a couple of game designers and I went through Gears of War 2 in one sitting, I was quite happy to let the guys go through the game because I knew they could get through it faster. Yet, I felt like I was participating because at choice points, I could voice my opinion, yelling "Right, Right!" or "No, Left!" when we drove over the frozen lakes. Normally, I find it silly to yell when I watch DVDs with friends, but because this game was interactive, I could participate in that way.


I might add that I typically do not enjoy action flicks on the wide screen. I have even fallen asleep during a Vin Diesel film because of the lack of deep characterization. So, it is somewhat surprising to me that I have come to this conclusion that action-packed short-form games would be ideal date material. Simply, in my experience, no other genre of games seemed to be right for this purpose. I have played Braid with the same guys and even though I used the controller with others commenting to me, a puzzle game is simply too slow-paced and furthermore, does not deliver a satisfying shared experience at 2 - 3 hours. I have found the same to be true for RPGs, which often meander and have a slow build-up.


Scientists have said that in the science of love, increased adrenaline output is part of falling in love, which is why television matchmakers try to hook couples up by giving them exciting dates like race car driving or bungee jumping. Fast-paced action games, if at 2 - 3 hours, incite adrenaline and are spectacles to watch. The narratives, while they could be better, are straightforward and usually on rails like a movie. To top it off, if the couple had something like the Rez trance vibrator, then every time the boy blew away demon-alien hybrids, the girl would receive a happy jolt. However, that's not for first-date hijinks!


So what do you think? Should video games be part of the dating ritual?


About Sande Chen:
Sande Chen is a writer and game designer whose work has spanned 10 years in the industry. Her credits include 1999 IGF winner Terminus, 2007 PC RPG of the Year The Witcher, and Wizard 101. She writes about women's issues in the game industry at DameDev.

back to top

Small Hr

Gamers in Real Life (G.I.R.L.) and Their Impact on the Gaming Industry:

by Torrie Dorrell, Sara Kaplan and Tina Tyndal
The IGDA Women in Games Special Interest Group (IGDA WIG SIG) was formed to create a positive impact on the game industry with respect to gender balance in the work and marketplace. We realize that we're not the only folks working to make a difference in the industry and to that end, every quarter the IGDA WIG SIG Newsletter will profile partner organizations who contributing to make a positive impact in the industry. This quarter I spoke with Sara Kaplan and Torrie Dorrell from Sony Online Entertainment (SOE), sponsors of Gamers in Real Life (G.I.R.L.) to learn more about G.I.R.L. and their work at SOE.


G.I.R.L. is a scholarship program sponsored by SOE. Their mission? Positively impact the depiction of women in video games by influencing content so that they are more appealing to women and a wider variety of gamers. G.I.R.L. also works to raise awareness of female gamers within the media to encourage and promote women throughout all facets of games including players and industry professionals in game production and management.


The G.I.R.L Scholarship initiative began in 2008 as an initial partnership with The Art Institutes around the country that offered game design as a field of study. Julia Brasil (student at The Art Institute in San Francisco) won the G.I.R.L. scholarship in its first year, receiving ten thousand dollars towards tuition and an internship at the SOE Seattle studio, performing so well that she was invited to return in 2009 for an additional internship position.


Julia Brasil

Riding on the success of last year's scholarship program, this year G.I.R.L. has expanded the agenda, working with Scholarship America to open up the scholarship to all students in gaming programs across the United States, growing year over year. According to Dorrell, "I hope [the program] snowballs, making G.I.R.L even bigger and creating even more opportunities for women to break into this industry."


In addition to their scholarship program, G.I.R.L. also engages in a range of other activities to help further their mission, including but not limited to organizing women-in-industry panels, booking women from SOE as speakers and keynotes at interactive entertainment industry events, participating in GameMentor Online and holding G.I.R.L. sponsored activities at SOE's Fan Faire, an annual event designed to allow online payers to meet each other and prominent SOE personalities. G.I.R.L. has also utilized social networking tools to help bring awareness to their programs and has partnered with likeminded publishers and organizations such as the IGDA to increase placement of women on game development teams.


Discussing the landscape of the video game industry and women with Kaplan and Dorrell, it's clear that G.I.R.L. and other organization are helping to break public misconceptions that women aren't gamers. In fact, women are playing in force! The Entertainment Software Associate (ESA) website states that forty percent of all game players are women. Our effort is not exhausted yet however as there still remains a significant amount of work, as the ratio of women gamers is not reflected on a professional level.


Dorrell is optimistic about the evolution of women entering the professional field in the video game industry and that if trends mirror the increase of female gamers in recent years compared to 10 - 20 years ago, the number of professionals should increase too. "As games and the game industry continues to evolve and introduces new business models and metagames where social networking is as much a part of the experiences as quests, exploration or fighting, it will help to expand the definition of who a gamer is," Dorrell explained. In addition, although "we still see tons of games geared toward boys and men, more and more of these titles are balanced by games geared toward girls and women as well as and games that appeal to both genders at the same time."


To further realize the mission of G.I.R.L., we can help facilitate their success by spreading support for their mission and encouraging publishers to help fund the G.I.R.L. scholarship, matching SOE's initial contribution of ten thousand dollars in order to collect a larger sum and create multiple scholarships.


Dorrell's long time objective for G.I.R.L. includes establishing the program as an industry-wide initiative that all game companies will one day recognize and support stating, "even though many companies have their own programs to help bring more women into the field, why not combine forces to create something that is truly kick-ass?" She also hopes that we are currently "in the thick of a shift in the playing field, with an influx of women on development teams in not only art and design, but also programming and engineering." Her biggest hope is that G.I.R.L. will one day become a superfluous initiative as a result of the industry becoming balanced in regards to gender representation in the professional ranks.


Please follow G.I.R.L. on Facebook and Twitter and check back to the website for any upcoming G.I.R.L. news and events.

back to top

Small Hr

Making a Game About Girls Without Pink Sparkly Ponies

by Latoya Peterson
At the Baltimore IGDA Student and Indy Games Exhibition on June 21st, I encountered something so shocking I nearly dropped the controller at one of the demo booths. After playing the first few minutes of Alexander Tran and Mike Couture's demo of their game Allie and Mary, I whipped around and started firing off questions:

Latoya: You created a game with two female leads?
Alex: Yeah.
Latoya: Why?
Alex: Because I don't really see girls in these kinds of games...?
Latoya: And you made them fully clothed?
Alex: Yeah.
[Latoya continues to play the game, learning a bit more about the controls.]
Latoya: Whoa - she can attack? With her fists? And the other one can detonate bombs? Really??? They can actually fight?
Alex: Uh, yeah...
Latoya: Are you a feminist?
Alex: Ummm... I don't know how to answer that question.


I was astounded. While this two person team created what was essentially a long demo for their final project at the University of Baltimore, they managed to create a game that was more compelling than I've played in a long time.



Back in 2007, I wrote an article for Cerise called 'Attention Game Designers: 5 Steps to Attract Girl Gamers.' The basic argument was that girl gamers aren't some alien species that just touched down on Earth - a little representation and a little planning goes a long way. In light of the points in the original article, here's what Alex and Mike did to earn my admiration in less than ten minutes:

Make a Good Game

This step seems so basic, and yet it is often overlooked by game designers. With the increased emphasis on cute characters, pink packaging, and marketing, it is no wonder that the actual content of a game gets lost. Girl gamers are exactly that - gamers.


When I asked Alex how he came up with the concept, he noted:


The project and concept of the game was motivated by my love of old-school Disney movies, 3D animated movies, and plat-former video games like 'Ratchet and Clank' or 'Jak and Daxter'. I wanted to make a unique game that incorporated new and old ideas. The biggest new idea was having a female heroine or in this case 2 females, with personalities that everyone can relate to and names you can pronounce - hah. Why female characters? Why not. After all weren't a handful of the main characters of old-school Disney movies, females? (Snow White, Sleep Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, Lady and the Tramp, Cinderella, Mulan, etc.)

Now Alex did not specifically say he was aiming to tap into the female market. (Or, as explained in Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat, the ever elusive Vogue reading woman, not those of us who play games.)


Playing to stereotypical female interests like shopping, fashion, and singing will net a small section of the women who like to play video games - but most women gamers look for quality of game play before plunking down $50 for the latest releases or investing time into online communities.


Give the Characters a Personality

Allie and Mary was too short to have a back story, but this is more or less consistent with the action adventure games that the demo was based on. What is interesting is that the girls are friends and teammates - not someone's accessory.


Create (Physically) Strong Female Characters

My reaction to characters that can physically attack is based on twenty years of playing through avatars that were designated as healers or helpers.


There is no reason to keep disadvantaging female characters in video games. Across genres, female characters are consistently weaker than their male counterparts. We are restricted to working around strength and employing other tactics for survival - female characters tend to have more developed magic ability, feminized weapons, healing prowess, or increased agility and speed. Quite often, this leads to male players of video games eschewing female fighting characters outright - and mocking female players who choose to do battle with a character who is obviously inferior.


While Allie and Mary has two different players with different strengths, neither was forced to play to gender stereotypes - Mary specializes in hand to hand combat; Allie detonates enemies with a long-range attack.


While I enjoyed the play, the sad reality popped up in a cut scene at the end of the level. After a ferocious-yet-cute looking plant-sand-monster thing rages from the soil, the screen cuts to a 'coming never to a system near you!'


The game is over, the final project was turned in and Alex and Mike are searching for jobs in the industry.


And I hope they keep this mindset going into their careers.


Imagine the possibilities when two guys can create a decent game about women without sexist stereotypes, without even trying.

Latoya Peterson
About Latoya Peterson: Skilled in the art of interviewing, creative non-fiction, and digital editorial content, Latoya Peterson exists at the intersection of theory and lived experience. A freelance writer and blogger with strong opinions, she is often found writing about the intersections between race and pop culture - but also finds time to discuss video games, anime, manga, gender, feminism, and hip-hop.

back to top

New Approaches to Women and Games

by Phaedra Boinodiris
The women in games environment has changed dramatically, there is no doubt about it. When my sister and I launched WomenGamers.Com 10 years ago, we were not the first women's gaming portal to go on the net, but we were one of a mere handful. Our launch was greeted with skepticism from many who didn't accept that women were a viable market. Even with a growing user base, our requests for review copies from publishers were largely ignored. But our email boxes were telling us a different story. The mail began to come in, hundreds of emails at a time. The majority were from grateful gamers who looked to WG's community for confirmation that there were not alone. The remainder of our emails tended to be rude and poorly written messages by people who asserted that, "Women don't play games." It took a good 6 months of working to change perspectives before major news networks picked us up as a hot topic and eventually developers and publishers started to return our calls.

When asked by the press, why we would start a site of this nature, what impassioned us to do such a thing, our answer came readily�to provide a community where other women gamers like us could feel a sense of belonging. A community where we could raise the status of women gamers as a desired target market so that we would not be a forgotten by-product. Why? Because games are important, they open doors as a gateway to other technological pursuits and interests.


Years of trudging the light spattered floors of E3 went by, where the majority of other women in the restrooms wore chainmail bikinis or were impersonators of Lara Croft. Over time, we've seen a slow shift of women infiltrating the male dominated realm of gaming. But it wasn't until one year, when Nintendo released the Wii and the Nintendo DS, that it became truly obvious that women were finally being considered as more than a by-product. Posters showing women playing games abounded, commercials showing faces we know and love PLAYING games with their families. Casual game companies began picking up momentum, fishing for greater and greater numbers of adult women game players.


Women play games. It's is a widely accepted fact that has not escaped publishers and investors. So what is our new frontier? When the women's SIG had the opportunity to talk about women and games this year, I thought long and hard about what remains to be said. Certainly there is no where near as many women as there should be working in the gaming industry. This is one of the key reasons why we strongly support Women of IGDA's new mentorship network. I thought that instead of highlighting what was still wrong in terms of the state of women in the gaming industry, what would be BETTER is to have a frank discussion about why the average Joe (or Jane) should care. I began to think hard about the source of all these efforts�WHY should the general public CARE that women play games and make games?


As the Serious Games Program manager for IBM, I have a great vantage point to see how games are being adopted for more than their mere entertainment value. Components of games are being adopted in the workplace because they offer an advanced vehicle for training, relaying the value proposition of complex ideas, marketing, building teams, assessing recruits and growing leadership skills. I am not referring to e-learning, I mean true blue games. According to the Apply Group, 1 in 5 Fortune 500 companies will adopt serious games by 2012. For a global company like IBM where an employee may never meet their teammates face to face, knowing how to maneuver and co-lead in a virtual team is a critical skill to have.


IBM recently unveiled a campaign of theirs called Smarter planet which underscores how we as a global society are more inter-connected than ever before. What happens on the other side of the globe socio-economically, environmentally, affects us. With technology, we can solve major problems plaguing us today. INNOV8 is as an example of a game that IBM released that attempts to impact public perception. It is a sim-style game that shows how the gamer can impact profitability, environmental impact and customer satisfaction via the power of changing business process models. Through games of this nature, we feel that we can teach our customers how technology can really affect major change and teach critical systems thinking.

Unless women are making games, designing them, they will be missing this golden opportunity to be part of a major shift that is coming in corporate America. Generation Y, known as the gamer generation, is growing up and becoming managers and employees. They have a different attitude towards leadership, practice, working in teams, career advancement. The average age of the gamer is 35 and serious games are growing faster than ever before. Looking at this canvas of the coming environment, it seems inevitable that games and game approaches will be adopted more and more within working environments.


In a GDC 2009 panel session entitled, "Play Games to Work Smarter: Why it is More Critical than Ever that Women Play and Develop Games." I had the opportunity to explore these ideas more fully. Panelists Noah Falstein, Merriliea Mayo, Diane Pozefsky, and Tracy Fullerton all had their own perspectives that lent to this vision of the future. They embraced the idea behind this panel with an enthusiastic fervor, each bringing their own special perspective to the discussion.


Noah Falstein, a legendary game designer in both the entertainment space and most recently in the serious games space, spoke eloquently about his daughter and how she approaches gameplay using very non-traditional patterns. He asserted that with women as game designers we could possibly have whole new genre of games that have yet to be dreamt of. Noah just released a game for Cisco and is also heavily involved in Games for Health.


Merrilea Mayo has done much work at the Kauffman Foundation studying how games can revolutionize the education system. After relaying her research that serious games provide over 108% better retention than traditional forms of learning, she put forward an innovative proposal on how to engage more women in game design.


Tracy Fullerton, a professor of game design at USC, is writing a book about the subject. She discussed the impact that she believes women can have on the landscape of games and game technology, providing many anecdotes about the women in her classes-especially the ones that didn't consider themselves game designers yet had spent years designing puzzles and board games.


Diane Pozefsky, a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, teaches a course on serious games. She retired from IBM as a Distinguished Engineer and she too recognizes the impact that games will have on the corporate environment.


The panelists passionately made it clear that it's time to take a new approach to thinking about women and games. We have an opportunity to become involved in a major shift in the ever expanding nature of games, as they become more intrinsic to the fabric of the workplace, to on-boarding, assessment and training.

Phaedra Boinodiris
About Phaedra Boinodiris: Phaedra Boinodiris is a Serious Games Program Manager at IBM where she is helping craft IBM's serious games strategy in technical training, marketing, and leadership skill building. She is the founder of the award-winning INNOV8 program, a series of games that teaches and evangelizes Business Process Management. INNOV8 is being used in over 1000 schools worldwide and is now available for public consumption.

Prior to working at IBM, Boinodiris has been an entrepreneur for 10 years, starting two companies in custom application/social network development and videogame consulting. She co-founded WomenGamers.Com, a popular women's gaming portal on the Internet and started the first scholarship for women to attain degrees in game design and development in the US. Boinodiris received her MBA and her Bachelors in Math and Comp Sci from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

back to top

The 8th Annual Women in Gaming Awards

by Karen Randhawa
The 8th Annual Women in Gaming Awards were handed out on March 25 during an inaugural, invite-only event at GDC which was sponsored by Microsoft. The intimate, 75-person luncheon was attended by high-caliber industry talent and nominees from the four categories recognized during the event - Top Female in Art, Design, Programming & Production. Chronicling the festive nature of the event were live Twitter posts, which also provided visibility into the awards ceremony for those who couldn't attend or who might be interested in a gaming career.

"Microsoft is honored to continue sponsorship of this program, which we see as an opportunity to foster and support a community of and relationships with key women in the gaming industry," said Denise Novosel, Staffing Manager, Entertainment & Devices. "And we are so proud that two of our very own, Kiki Wolfkill and Corrinne Yu were acknowledged for their outstanding contributions to the field."


Also celebrating the accomplishments of women gaming executives was (by video) Will Wright, of Sims and Spore fame, who said that over the years he has been delighted to see diversity increase in the developer and producer ranks (e.g., more women), and that has directly broadened game appeal and audience.

In his experience, women bring a different view than men to design and a new depth to gaming. He encouraged more women to consider careers in the industry - to help mature this art form.


Microsoft expands its support of Women In Gaming by committing as the title sponsor of the Game Mentor Online program, an announcement made at the awards ceremony by Women in Gaming Special Interest Group chair Fiona Cherbak.


2009 Women in Gaming Award Winners

Category: Art
Kiki Wolfkill
Executive Producer (previously Director of Art), Microsoft Game Studios, working on the Halo franchise


Category: Programming
Corrinne Yu
Principal Engine Programmer, Halo Team, Microsoft


Category: Design
Robin Hunicke
Senior Designer and Producer at EA, working on MySims, Boom Blox!


Category: Production
Siobhan Reddy
Executive Producer, Little Big Planet at Media Molecule

back to top

The Advancement of Women Professionals

by Merrilea J. Mayo, Director, Future of Learning Initiatives
Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
The plight of women in the games industry is eerily reminiscent of the experiences of women faculty in science and engineering departments, including low representation (10-15% in both cases), social marginalization, lower salaries, and intense workloads that engender incompatibility between family and career life. Thus have these professional women become secondary citizens in the technical workforce. Using published studies on the advancement of women science and engineering faculty (for an excellent summary, see Ref ), this article attempts to make sense of similar phenomena facing female professionals in the games industry. Representation issues, resulting from differential hiring and promotion, are the focus of this newsletter's discussion.

The first finding from the literature on women faculty scientists and engineers is that the representation problem doesn't solve itself over time. Although it is tempting to believe that as more and more women enter a field through college study, there will naturally be spillover into the professional ranks, data show the proportion of men and women professionals in a field does not equalize over time, relative to their representation in the source pool. As but one example, the proportion of women students at MIT has grown steadily over the last decade, such that women now comprise 45% of the undergraduate population. However, "A Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT" documents that "the percent of women faculty in the School of Science (8%) had not changed significantly for at least 10 and probably 20 years." The Donna Nelson surveys show males as being overrepresented on the faculty, relative to the pool of qualified Ph.D.'s, in every science and engineering discipline field she studied. For example, the psychology faculty at the nation's top 50 universities was still 63% male in 2006-2007, while the Ph.D. pool had the reverse distribution; it was 71% female and had been dominantly female for 22 years.


In the games industry, the pool of women is also larger than their professional representation. In recent years, about 20% of computer science degrees have been earned by women; however, only 12% of game industry employees were women, including more female-friendly areas such as human resources and graphic arts. Because changing the pool does not change the representation of women in the field, encouraging more girls to become scientists, or game designers, is not by itself a workable solution. The pool may change, but the percentage of female professionals will likely stay the same. History shows that changes in representation do not happen unless the institution changes as well.


But, what kind of institutional change is necessary? A substantial body of work now documents that the reason women are marginalized in many professions, is because of gender schema, i.e. even well-educated, rational people - yes, even women themselves - subconsciously assume women are less competent. Merely changing the name on a faculty applicant's resume from "Karen Miller" to "Brian Miller" increases an individual's chance of being hired from 29% to 46%, with this effect identical regardless of whether a woman or man does the evaluation of the candidate's CV. A study of 300 letters of recommendation showed those written for women faculty applicants are on average 10% shorter, are more likely (24% vs. 10%) to contain "doubt-raising" comments, are more likely (15% vs. 6%) to omit any mention of work-related accomplishments, and are more likely (10% vs. 5%) to include gendered attributes (e.g., "intelligent lady" rather than "intelligent," implying the applicant is intelligent - for a woman). The combined effect of these many little disparities is a very high likelihood that any given recommendation letter written for a woman will contain one or more attributes that make the female applicant seem less desirable than a comparable male applicant.


And, this is the story of underrepresentation of women in professional fields. They are treated differently - in the better situations, only a tiny bit, with any one occurrence or decision or opportunity well within the "noise" level of normal situations, and therefore unremarkable. But those tiny negative experiences - a slightly less glowing recommendation here, a more burdensome committee appointment there, exclusion from an office beerfest last Monday, a somewhat less interesting project to work on, or a particular idea voiced but not heard - are highly repetitive occurrences in women's lives. Even though they may be small, the disadvantages due to these negative differentials accumulate and accumulate, like compound interest. A computer model of a corporation having an eight level hierarchy, with 15% of individuals advancing from one level to the next, examined the impact of biasing the evaluation scores of men by 0%, 1%, and 5%. Moving the distribution of men's scores up by 1% of variance, or 10% of a standard deviation, results in only 35% of women at the top level, even though the simulation starts with a gender-balanced pool of employees at the bottom of the hierarchy. This pattern of discrimination via successive small inequities is termed "accumulated disadvantage."


What can be done to change the unintentional, cumulative small discriminations that lead to substantial differences in women's professional lives? The preferable solution might be to change human nature, so no bias exists. However, the more practical solution is to engineer selection events so that for each new opportunity, and at each stage of a woman's career, existing biases have less of a chance to influence the selection outcome. Two examples follow, for the specific case of hiring selection.



In 2004, the National Institutes of Health instituted a signature award, a major grant that could be won by being distinguished in one's field. In the first year of the Pioneer Award program, 100% of the awardees were men. By the next year, 46% of the awardees were women. What changed? First, the opportunity was advertised much more broadly, so its availability was not limited to the "in crowd." Secondly, the award no longer required one to be nominated by a colleague - a process that largely resulted in established males recommending their friends. Instead, applicants self-nominated. And, finally, the representation of women on the judging panel was increased from 4% to 44%. i


A second example comes from the music world. In major orchestras, less than 10% of new hires were women, prior to 1970. In the 1980's, two changes were implemented that ultimately resulted in the major orchestras hiring women as 35-50% of their new applicants. The first was a much broader and more public advertising of the positions, rather than the historical word-of-mouth from male music directors to their circle of (male) friends. The second was a new practice of "blind auditions," wherein the applicant was separated from the judges by a screen. These two changes alone are credited for about 66% of the improved hiring of women. By the 1990s, the major orchestras contained between 20-30% women.


From these two examples we learn two powerful lessons for improving the hiring of women. First, eliminate social circles as an input criterion to the selection process. Advertise beyond the comfort zone of the hiring manager; make personal connections/recommendations/nominations a secondary input and not a primary filter. Secondly, screen gender identity from the committee doing the selection. If that is not possible, ensure the selection committee is gender balanced. Biases will continue to exist, in all professional fields and in all walks of life. But, through better processes, we can eliminate the effects of those biases.



i. Committee on Maximizing the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2007. Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering. Washington, DC.

ii. -link


iii. Committee on Women Faculty, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,. 1999. A Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT. Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1999. -link


iv. Diversity in Science Association. 2007. Nelson Diversity Surveys. Norman, OK. -link

National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics. 2008. Science and Engineering Degrees: 1966�2006. Detailed Statistical Tables NSF 08-321. Arlington, VA. -link


International Game Developer Association. 2005. Game Developer Demographics: An Exploration of Workforce Diversity. Mount Royal, New Jersey. -link


R Steinpreis, K Sanders, and D Ritzke. 1999. "The impact of gender on the review of the curriculum vitae of job applicants and tenure candidates: A national empirical study." Sex Roles: A Journal of Research 41: 509-28.


F. Trix and C. Psenka. 2003. "Exploring the Color of Glass: Letters of Recommendation for Female and Male Medical Faculty." Discourse and Society 14: 191-220.
R. F. Martell, D. M. Lane, and C. Emrich. 1996. "Male-Female Differences: A Computer Simulation." American Psychologist, 157-158


C. Goldin and C. Rouse. 2000. "Orchestrating Impartiality: The Impact of 'Blind' Auditions on Female Musicians." The American Economic Review 90: 715-741.

Merrilea Mayo
About Merrilea Mayo: Merrilea Mayo has joined the Kauffman Foundation as a director in the Education area. She brings a wide range of public policy, research, fiscal management, and academic experience. Prior to joining the Foundation she was the director of the Government-University-Industry-Research Roundtable (GUIRR), National Academies in Washington, D.C. Merrilea led GUIRR in its efforts to define national strategic issues for action by federal science agency heads, industry CEOs and university presidents. During her career she has also served as the founding director of the Alliance for Science and Technology Research in America, and as the Congressional Science and Engineering Fellow for the Office of Senator Joseph Lieberman. Merrilea is a long-time member and past-president of the Materials Research Society and has led workshops and been an advisor for the serious games community. She received her undergraduate degree from Brown University and went on to earn both her Masters and Doctorate in materials science and engineering from Stanford University. She has been an assistant professor and associate professor with Pennsylvania State University. Her work has been published in numerous professional journals, books, and conference proceedings and has earned a U.S. patent and a variety of awards in the materials science field.

back to top


Beckett Massive Online Gamer
Beckett Massive Online Gamer Seeks Nominations:
Top Ten Women in MMORPGs

Journalist Carolyn Koh is working on a list of the "Most Influential Women in MMOs" for Beckett Massive Online Gamer and would like your nominations! Readers can nominate via Comments on the Most Influential Women in MMOs article.

A short list will be open for reader's choice voting in mid-August. The final list will be published in issue 21 of Massive Online Gamer, due on the news stands at the end of September.

back to top

Partner: Gaming Angels
Partner Profile: GamingAngels

This past May, GamingAngels launched a new website design, making it easier for readers to navigate and participate in our community. With a more streamlined system for video game reviews, and the addition of literature and pop culture sections, the new GamingAngels has something for everyone.


If you are looking for E3 coverage, GamingAngels has that too! They had staff on hand for every day of the convention, and have some great First Look coverage for upcoming blockbusters like Dante's Inferno, Beatles Rock Band, God of War 3, and much more.

Another highlight, their Editor in Chief was quoted in a Chicago Tribune article about The Sims 3 (which was released the same day as the article publication).


GamingAngels also has some great contests and coverage coming up, including Magic the Gathering XBLA codes and Rock Band money to give away. Their staff has be covering some of this summer's biggest conventions, such as the recent San Diego Comic Con and the upcoming Penny Arcade Expo. Please look for GamingAngels and say hello!

back to top

Partner: Stowe Consulting
Partner Profile: Stowe Consulting

IGDA Women in Games has taken on a new strategic partner in Stowe Consulting, an experienced, pragmatic and hard working team of marketing communications and public relations professionals who consistently produce big results for technology companies around the world. Run by Kim Stowe, the San Jose-based firm has a lengthy history of working with game industry clients, as well as supporting women in games.

Stowe Consulting is the go-to resource for game and hardware companies seeking to have voice in a crowded market place. The company provides strategic planning and implementation of affordable programs including public relations, social media, website design, SEO and more.


Stowe Consulting will aid IGDA Women in Games with their current and upcoming PR strategy, social media relations and marcom needs for the SIG's existing and evolving programs and initiatives.

back to top

Global Game Jam
Global Game Jam 2010 on the Way

The Global Game JamTM recently announced the Global Game Jam 2010 and is looking for additional venues to grow next year. With 1650 participants last year across 14 different time zones and 54 venues, the GGJ produced 370 games in just 48 hours. For 2010, the goal is to triple the size of the event to 150 locations and more than 3,000 participants. The 2010 GGJ will take place January 29-31, 2010.


"We're looking to make the 2010 Global Game Jam even more global, with more games, more people, more interaction, more fun, innovation and creativity," said Susan Gold, founder of the Global Game Jam. "Now is when we're starting the search for new venues, leaders and sponsors to grow the event and draw attention to the amazing diversity and talent in game development around the world."

Everyone is given similar constraints and rules, but each time zone will get one unique constraint to make their games just a little different and culturally diverse. The goal is to provide a vehicle for professional developers, students and hobbyist to come together and have an incredible experience in collaboration and inventiveness. A Game Jam is not a competition, it is unique "idea space" where sometimes things work and sometimes they don't. For details on how to become a host location in your city or town, check out the Global Game Jam web site.

back to top

GameMentorOnline Signs Up Mentors and Student Protégés

GameMentorOnline is a first-of-its-kind mentoring program for the video game industry. IGDA Women in Games and Women in Games International have partnered to offer mentoring, which is key to promoting roles within the industry and for career advancement.


The beta launch of GameMentorOnline in late March has proven successful with more than 50 pairings of mentors and protégés. Currently focused on student protégés, we are encouraging your participation as a mentor. The program is open to mentors with at least three years of experience in the industry. Protégés must be students in college, university, or post-graduate studies.


As our industry expands, contracts and evolves, there is a continually pressing need to shepherd and educate new talent, while tapping into the significant knowledge and resources of a growing community of advanced game professionals whose expertise could be lost if not passed on to new generations of game industry employees. We are asking you to offer your experience and insight to at least one student protégé per year.

The GameMentorOnline Steering Committee is comprised of Fiona Cherbak, VP, Business Development at GameX and Chair, IGDA Women in Games SIG; Karen Clark, Sr. Project Manager at EA and Chair, Mentoring Program, Women in Games International; Susan Gold, Course Director at Full Sail University and Chair, IGDA Education SIG; Marque Pierre Sondergaard, Developer Relations at Imagination Technologies and Chair, IGDA Mobile Gaming SIG; Anne Toole, game writer and narrative designer, Writers Cabal and Chair, Mentoring Program, IGDA Women in Games SIG; and Emma Westecott, Games Research Fellow, University of Wales, Newport and organizer, Women in Games Conference, U.K.


GameMentorOnline is generously supported by title sponsor Microsoft Game Studios, with additional support from premier sponsors Design, Direct, Deliver and Sony Online Entertainment.


If you have any questions, or experience any issues in your mentor or protégé account sign-up, please contact Anne Toole, Mentoring Program Chair for IGDA Women in Games, at gamementorline@igda.org.

back to top

IndieCade: International Festival of Independent Games
October 1-4, 2009, Culver City, CA

IndieCade's International Festival of Independent Games 2009 brings the best of their cutting-edge work to the community and the public this October 1 to 4. Located at various venues in Culver City, CA, IndieCade's exhibitions and showcases will offer previews of top game selections, salons, networking, and innovative gameplay to audiences.


IndieCade's International Festival of Independent Games 2009 is open to the public and draws a diverse audience of savvy professionals interested in cutting-edge digital media, game developers, publishers, artists, and enthusiasts of all ages. Tickets are now on sale to participate in the Hands-On Exhibition, showcasing top finalist work, plus a robust conference with workshops, panels and keynote by industry leaders.


Other IndieCade event features include holds theatrical previews of new innovative work, a dynamic award ceremony, this year held at Sony Pictures Entertainment, festival outdoor gameplay to be held in the park and downtown plaza areas, daily artist talks and presentations, special VIP and networking events including a fantastic opening gala, and a special series of events aimed at aspiring gamemakers.

IndieCade supports independent game development and organizes a series of international showcases and festivals for the future of independent games. It encourages, publicizes, and cultivates innovation and artistry in interactive media, helping to create a public perception of games as rich, diverse, and culturally significant. Like the independent video game community, IndieCade's focus is global and includes producers in Asia, Europe, Australia, and anywhere else independent games are made and played. IndieCade was formed in 2005 by Creative Media Collaborative, an alliance of industry producers and leaders.


Learn more about IndieCade by visiting www.indiecade.com.

back to top

Inaugural Casual Connect Leadership Development Forum Spurs Early Excitement for 2010

The success of the first Casual Connect Leadership Development Forum in Seattle on July 20 has already had people discussing the potential lineup for the following year. The Forum was established quickly in less than 8 weeks, with the enormous support of the Casual Games Association (CGA), and the joint representation of the IGDA Women in Games, Women in Games International, and Women in Games Vancouver. A lineup of 40 unique speakers, comprised of panelists, moderators and roundtable leaders across the entire spectrum of the game industry, committed without pause to participate in the Forum.

Picture of a Panel
Courtesy of Krissie Franco, Hydrogen Whiskey

Keynote speaker Megan Gaiser, CEO of Her Interactive and IGDA Women in Games advisory board member, set the inspirational tone of the day, as she encouraged everyone to step up as leaders. Close to 120 men and women attended the day, listening to the panelists, and participating interactively for the roundtables. An additional 200 people viewed the event streaming live.

The panel sessions, recorded by the CGA, will be posted to the Casual Connect archives, while summary notes for the Roundtable will be posted to both these archives, and the Women in Games Vancouver site. The event also streamed, thanks to Colin Christianson, and highlights are available here. Watch out for details of next year's Casual Connect Leadership Development Forum!

back to top

Small Hr

IGDA: Women in Games SIG

Join an IGDA Women in Games Program Committee

IGDA Women in Games is currently forming program committees for several key initiatives that have been in development over the summer. We are seeking volunteer Chairs and committee members to work together to successfully drive the goals of each program thought this year and into 2010. If you are interested in supporting any of these programs, please contact us at wigsig@igda.org.


Games2Girls Program Committee: Game Design Education for Girls
The Game Research Lab at Columbia in NY is developing one-shot course curriculum that members of the IGDA Women in Games and interested volunteers can deliver to middle school girls via Girl Scouts and other extra curricular programs that support girls. We've launched introductions to the national org's, and plan to deliver the Games2Girls game design curriculum to these org's by Winter 2010.


Indie Women's Game Design Competition Program Committee
Produced in conjunction with IndieCade and the IGDA Indie SIG, the Indie Women's Game Design Competition is a brand new game design competition developed to open up doors for professional and amateur female game designers around the world. Set to launch in early Fall, competitors will have until late Winter to provide their design entries in multiple categories. Winners will be announced at a special GDC 2010 event.


Women in Games Preservation Committee
As a synergy partner to the IGDA Games Preservation SIG, IGDA Women in Games is uniquely positioned to support their efforts by delivering a chronicle of achievements on women in games to our community. We have the opportunity to showcase important women in games through memorials, Wiki and a centralized Women in Games Database, while generally promoting interest and activism in games preservation.


While GameMentorOnline has an established program committee with co-chairs, comprised of both IGDA Women in Games and WIGI members, we are actively seeking volunteers to participate in this effort and be part of our committee objectives. Currently focused on students as protégés, we are working to grow GMO to include working professionals as protégés, plus increase our overall mentor and protégé participation.

back to top

Small Hr

IGDA: Women in Games SIG

How to become an IGDA WIG SIG member

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

Thank you for partnering with us in 2009.

back to top

Small Hr

IGDA: Women in Games SIG

How to contribute to the IGDA Women in Games newsletter and web site

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.

back to top

Small Hr

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

IGDA: Women in Games SIG