Tuesday, 6 November 2012

XX Game Jam

I feel some things really need to be said about XX Game Jam.

I was part of the winning team “People Who Make Games or Something” and made an action platformer called Donkey Kog Country. I was the sole artist on this team and I had never done a game jam before. Which is an important point, I’m generally terrible for feeling intimidated by others, Game Jams have always been something I would love to take part in, but was too worried about getting agro for not knowing certain tech things or not doing a good enough job and letting my team down. All very ridiculous but these are things I feared. I still felt this way about XX Game Jam (you can ask someone who around me for the MONTHS running up to it) but luckily the female game dev community is pretty small, I already knew a few of the people going, so I felt more at ease about it. And the point of this jam was never the competition aspect, it was about learning and connecting with others to create something.

For a long time I had convinced myself that I could never work in the games industry, despite it being my dream. Mostly for the fact, that as a member of the lady half of our species, I wouldn't be taken seriously or respected. This was a notion I carried through most of my teenage years and my mind only changed when I saw the developer diaries for The Sims 2. I remember how many women were featured and how they held roles such as Heads of Production, Animation Lead etc. That's when I realised that yeah, maybe I can follow my dream after all.

And I did.

I currently work as a Character Artist at Traveller’s Tales. The company consists of males forming over 90% of the roles, even higher in development roles. And being a girl in game development can be freaking lonely. Don’t get me wrong, I love having so many friends with the same interests as me, but why do so few of them need to be my gender? I can count my close female friends on one hand, which is ridiculous by anyone’s standards. Is it bad me wanting to equal out my social circle to be more balanced and like how the normal world operates???  

This event was about celebrating women (and men) who paved way for our current way of living. I wanted to take part in an event that was created to encourage other women to join the games industry as developers. The split of people playing games in split down the middle. But we don’t have to look too far for women being belittled and discriminated (either positively or negatively) against in these spaces. I wish this wasn’t the case. But because of working within this very supportive group I have much more confidence to join in with Game Jam's where I shall be out numbered, as is the norm in our industry. Which was a point stressed by the creators of this event.

In any case, we gathered some devs together, we had fun, we made games and we had a nice party at the end to celebrate. And there were men involved in running and funding this event. I look at it almost like Race for Life or Movember. It doesn’t mean that it’s an us and them situation over gender, but that we should support each other with issues that affect each other. So whether you agree with events like this or not, that’s your choice. But I like to think that everyone there came away feeling accepted, inspired and had a great time with lots of laughs. I'm sorry if that offends anyone, but I'm also not going to apologise for my having a good time making a ridiculous game, in a team with a ridiculous name and wearing a ridiculous woolly panda hat while I did it!


Anonymous said...

"Bravo!" is about all I can say to that - in thanks you for saying it. I was beginning to get dragged down by the same old crowd who usually crawl out of the woodwork whenever something like this happens, crying "but we don't have all-male game jams! You're segregating yourselves!"

Sure, in a wider context this was a means to (hopefully) a more inclusive ends for all people around the games industry, but it was also great fun - and certainly the most solid learning experience I've ever put myself through!

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