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UK sees its first female only game jam

UK sees its first female only game jam

Mon 05 Nov 2012 2:24pm GMT / 9:24am EST / 6:24am PST
EventsDevelopment

Debbie Rawlings and Helen Kennedy host event at Mind Candy offices

The offices of Mind Candy have played host to the XX Game Jam, which organisers Debbie Rawlings and Helen Kennedy believe is the UK's first female-only event of its kind.

"Within eight days of the registration going live we had filled 40 spaces," Rawlings told the BBC.

She has organised similar events in Bristol in the past and is also director of operations for Auroch Digital Ltd.

"We have a waiting list of about another 40 already so we could run another next week and I'm totally confident that would sell out too."

The 24 hour event was held at the end of last month to coincide with Ada Lovelace Day, which tries to highlight the role of women in technology, science and mathematics. Men were welcome to attend the showcase, but not to participate in the actual games development.

"The whole idea of an all-female game jam is something I discussed a while ago," added Kennedy.

"I took the idea out to Canada and pitched it for funding and they told me it couldn't be done, the whole format of a game jam was somehow too masculine to be done with just women. I thought that was a rather challenging thing to say as I don't believe in those sorts of categorisations."

University of the West of England, London Games Festival, Next Gen Skills and Auroch Digital all supported the event.

34 Comments

Jade Law Senior concept artist, Reloaded Productions

72 291 4.0
Popular Comment
You don't see "all men" games jams and if the participants happen to be all male its simply a reflection of gender interest not an attempt to draw a divide.
So why is this a thing? Feels sort of discriminatory and doesn't help equality in any way. Why was gender the filter?

Posted:A year ago

#1

Matt Hackett Game Developer, Lost Decade Games

49 2 0.0
Soooo the event is over, where are the games?! I want to play them :-)

Posted:A year ago

#2

Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd

450 423 0.9
@Jade: personally I feel the reasons behind this event justify it's discriminatory nature (and I remind you that discrimination is not necessarily a bad term in the right context). Just like we have outreach programmes targeting social minorities and under performing groups there is a need to not only make a statement that women are just as capable as males but also to advertise the prospect of working in the games industry to other females and at the same time defy any negative myths about their abilities and worthiness in the industry. Ultimately I don't even think it's something that needs any elaborate explanation, we should be welcoming this type of event until it does cause offence, because then we'll know that they are no longer the minority but part of the norm.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Jade Law Senior concept artist, Reloaded Productions

72 291 4.0
Popular Comment
@Keldon
I don't welcome this sort of event, I welcome unisex events where men and women are equal in development. Women are just as capable as men so why segregate ourselves for a games jam?
By drawing a line and putting ourselves on one side of it i see no gain whatsoever.

Girls in games are a minority, but that isn't a bad word, its like how you don't see many women in hard labor roles, we simply aren't as interested in certain industries as men.
Being of a minority doesn't mean we're less capable theres simply less of us.
This event doesn't change that fact, it simply serves to point out that we are different.. and i fail to see how that helps equality.

Posted:A year ago

#4

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,183 975 0.8
I'm usually quite cynical and don't like the idea of events that segregate people. On the other hand, sometimes events focused on a particular sex, racial or social group can help boost prospects in that area.

Women are 50% of the population and not a special case, sure. But whilst women in video game roles aren't under-performing, the lack of women in games jobs considering the population and potential is very low and expresses a potential fear, dis-interest girls have or missed opportunity for the types of educational fields and roles that girls could be successful in on a larger scale.

That being said, I do think such events will always have a level of controversy. The irony is if it was an event which for example focused on getting more black people (or insert other ethnic minority) into business, there wouldn't be much uproar about it. It really depends on who's looking at it and you will see a very broad range of opinions.


The Tec Guy ~AC

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 5th November 2012 8:05pm

Posted:A year ago

#5

Steve Nicholls Programmer

66 29 0.4
This is idiotic, women only? lets all be equal by blocking the other gender from entering.
The organisers should be ashamed.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd

450 423 0.9
This event doesn't change that fact, it simply serves to point out that we are different.. and i fail to see how that helps equality
About 6% of my Computer Science course were female and when I competed in programming competitions I recall seeing about 3-5 out of the 150 or so contestants.

What I have observed is that females had a very positive influence on projects as they just looked at things differently. They were more communicative as opposed to what seemed to me to be the male's propensity to want to go away and do stuff alone, and their thought process towards achieving goals just seemed to come from another direction that gave much greater perspective on our endeavours.

Michelle Borkin is an excellent example of how looking at things differently can have profound outcomes.

Maybe this is not the most appropriate way to attract more females or to celebrate the few that we do have. So what should be done?

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Keldon Alleyne on 5th November 2012 11:10pm

Posted:A year ago

#7

Andre David game artist, Enne Entertainment

2 0 0.0
Maybe this is not the most appropriate way to attract more females or to celebrate the few that we do have. So what should be done?
I would say to start making more girls specific games, like manga do. I think this event was a really bad idea, to celebrate one gender only is sucha shame, i dont think there is a trend agianst having woman in the industry at all, i would even say its the oposite we encourage as much as possible to have more females for they can offer so much.
I think the reason that most ppl got in the industry was because they were hooked up into a game they loved while a kid, so maybe making more games that are appealing to girls could change the amount of female in the industry.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Barbara Bernad Trailer Animation Producer, Maverick Media

7 6 0.9
I think there is a slight misunderstanding here. It is not about leaving men out. Or celebrating anything particular. Sometimes girls want to do something together, without the guys. Just like guys want to do things with other guys. Like you don't always hang out with every minority at the same time. I can't for my life understand why people always have to find something offending about what other people do. Be happy that there is one more forum where likeminded game developers can get together.

Posted:A year ago

#9

West Clendinning Senior/Lead Artist, Rovio Entertainment

21 4 0.2
A women-only game jam is a terrible idea.

Rather than having a women only event, Miss Rawlings and Miss Kennedy should focus their attention on getting more women to participate in the Unisex game jams, and promote those women that do well through their own venues if needed, this would provide the necessary role models and examples for younger female designers to associate with.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by West Clendinning on 6th November 2012 6:21am

Posted:A year ago

#10

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game

1,254 421 0.3
"Be happy that there is one more forum where likeminded game developers can get together."
Since when are people 'likeminded' just based on gender? If you send a message that you need a female only jam so there are no males making participation uncomfortable, you are enforcing a belief that if they join in on a normal event, men will make them uncomfortable. If this is true, that needs addressing, but not by hiding off one section.

Bunching one group together was the immigration policy of a few decades ago, you can see the effect of this in cities that had high immigration in the 70s. The lack of integration has just caused a lot of problems. You can not welcome a group into a community by bunching them off together in a seperate area. Making the community as a whole more welcoming is a better target. Or work on making sure these 50 participants all turn up to the Scottish game jam, so that women are strongly represented there.

Posted:A year ago

#11

Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd

450 423 0.9
Bunching one group together was the immigration policy of a few decades ago, you can see the effect of this in cities that had high immigration in the 70s. The lack of integration has just caused a lot of problems.
Very very true, although you might argue that it was 100% necessary when you consider the dangers of being a black guy caught on your J's. And I'm serious, where I come from violent racism was very rife at that time and I have heard many direct accounts of what people had to deal with and why it was necessary to group together, from men being kidnapped by the police (yes, the police) to the imminent threat of being attacked, so you really wouldn't want sparse housing (just so we're up to date on that one). I don't think those risks apply here though, and when you consider the social aspect of it, whatever, they had a great time, maybe they'll want to attend the unisex jams now.
Since when are people 'likeminded' just based on gender?
Culture. There were games made about doing chores quick enough to make a date with a guy. A woman flew down from Copenhagen. Check out the BBC article at least as there are a few comments about the types of games that wouldn't probably have been made in a unisex jam.

Sounds like we're becoming too PC and undiscriminating to the point that it's just silly. I don't see females on programming or development forums. So what if a group of women want to get together and make games, leave them alone and let them have fun instead of trying to dictate what they are and are not allowed to do. Let's not even try to read their mind and guess why they attended, let's just read the article, respect their decision to attend. Last I checked women gained the right to vote, but it seems it's been decided, apparently women are not allowed to do this type of event.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Keldon Alleyne on 6th November 2012 7:31am

Posted:A year ago

#12

Jade Law Senior concept artist, Reloaded Productions

72 291 4.0
@Keldon
This isn't a case of extreme political correctness its misrepresentation. Gender has no relevance to a persons abilities in the games industry and if these girls want to have a girls only jam theres is nobody stopping them.

But by putting themselves on the public stage as a group of segregated women and denying men the right to participate they are representing women in a poor light.
Many of us work hard on a personal level to ensure we integrate into our studios and our gender is never reason to be treated differently to anyone else (positively or negatively).
Events like these undo that by reminding everyone that we are different. You may not agree but I feel you are not the one being mis-represented here.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jade Law on 6th November 2012 7:56am

Posted:A year ago

#13

Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd

450 423 0.9
You may not agree but I feel you are not the one being mis-represented here.
I'm not a female, I just believe they have a right to gather in small groups.

I say let them make the types of games that interest them, and let's face it, that's not going to happen at a unisex game jam. It could, but judging by the BBC article and what they've said, they were able to make the types of games you don't typically see in "unisex" game jams. To me that alone is a result. I personally couldn't care about the games they mentioned, they just don't interest me, so I think it's a good thing that they had the opportunity to do something like this.

And every comment I see mentioning it being because they somehow need the absence of men to be able to compete makes me wonder if that's not a thought of their own, because that's not how I saw this event, I just saw it as a friendly social gathering of female developers.

Posted:A year ago

#14

Jessica Hyland Character Artist

337 1,427 4.2
Popular Comment
I frequently attend Girl Geek Dinners here in Cambridge, which are fun women-only nights to get together over food and drink, chat and listen to speakers. Is it really so offensive to allow women a safe space to be themselves and have fun together in their free time? Personally, I might have attended this Game Jam(if I had a laptop, anyway) as a way to meet other women in my field who maybe feel as occasionally isolated as I do, working in a hugely male-dominated team.

It's been shown that women in male-dominated groups speak less and contribute less than in groups with more even gender ratios(which is IMO the ideal, rather than being dominated by one gender or the other); an event like this gives women who feel less able to be themselves in male-dominated environments an opportunity to meet other women with their interests and make some fun games together.

Posted:A year ago

#15

David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers

359 78 0.2
What Jessica said. This isn't "discriminatory" it's about the minority of women in the industry getting together and feeling more comfortable about expressing themselves. This industry is still overwhelmingly male and I'm sure it's encouraging to be able to connect with other women and talk about their perspective in the industry with people who can truly empathize.

Posted:A year ago

#16

Robert Jenkins UI Artist at Best Boy Media, TT Games

4 0 0.0
The women only game jam is a great idea.
There is still sexism in gaming (booth babes etc) and unfortunately a rather low percentage of female developers. This is way more of an unfair misrepresentation of the industry and women than this game jam.

The jam gave women a chance to come together and create something they want to create, and as Keldon said, that will be a different product to if they had attended a male dominated uni-sex jam. Yes, the female count in uni-sex jams could be upped, but there are a lack of female developers in general, so that would need to be addressed first: You'd need to promote developing to women and not men somehow. The game jam does that by segregating and being newsworthy, therefore highlighting the hard working, passionate women in our industry which will help inspire others to get in to it.
Of course there's other ways to do that, this is just one, but it all helps.

Anyway, these women had a great time, worked really hard, and created some fantastic products. Why bash them for that? Just because they wanted to do it with other women and not men? Why not bash the sexist people that told Helen Kennedy that 'the whole format of a game jam was somehow too masculine to be done with just women.'??

Posted:A year ago

#17

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

528 788 1.5
Personally, rather than encourage women to feel comfortable by avoiding men, I'd rather get rid of whatever it is that makes them want to avoid men in the first place.

Posted:A year ago

#18

Jessica Hyland Character Artist

337 1,427 4.2
@Dave
Equal ratios of men and women in the workplace, then? That'd be nice for sure.

It's not so much about 'avoiding men' as it is 'seeking an environment that is not dominated by men'. If you've ever found yourself feeling a bit awkward being the only man in a room full of women, you're on your way to understanding how weird and uncomfortable it can feel to be the only woman, or one of a paltry number, in an environment that is otherwise full of men. It's not the fault of the men themselves.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jessica Hyland on 6th November 2012 4:07pm

Posted:A year ago

#19

Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd

450 423 0.9
It's not the fault of the men themselves
I've read an article that suggests otherwise (well for the programmers at least) ;) Let me explain a little, basically it attributed the fall from a 60:40 male-female ratio 1970's to the alarming male-female ratio of 88:12 we have today down to the negative male geek/dork image which less females want to be associated with. And by geek they don't just mean a techno-junkie, I think they mean the stereotypical type lacking in social skills, fashion sense and character.

There are other barriers I've read about that also mirror the differences between male and female gamers, which I found quite interesting.

Posted:A year ago

#20

Liam Farrell

66 13 0.2
There already is a male game-jam. it's called the video game industry

Posted:A year ago

#21

Jade Law Senior concept artist, Reloaded Productions

72 291 4.0
Equality isn't gained just by having equal numbers.
That just leads to the wrong person getting the job so that some arbitrary gender quota can be filled. This will build resentment from men.

I don't care if half the people in the room are girls or not, what i want is to be surrounded by capable people who I share respect with regardless of gender.

I've seen a lot of sexism in large studios.. IN FAVOR of women. I've known women who got the job just because they were women. How is that fair? Sexism goes both ways and I don't think we have any right to move into a male dominated industry and try and change it to suit us. We should integrate and contribute.

If women are uncomfortable working around men then it is not the fault of the men. If a lot of women are intimidated then thats a personal thing they need to learn to deal with instead of trying to change everyone else to suit their needs.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Jade Law on 6th November 2012 6:42pm

Posted:A year ago

#22

Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd

450 423 0.9
Jade: Equality isn't gained just by having equal numbers
e·qual·i·ty
Noun.
1. The state of being equal, esp. in status, rights, and opportunities.
2. The condition of being equal in number or amount. <---
Just saying.
... wrong person getting the job so that some arbitrary gender quota can be filled
Couldn't agree with you more on this point, that is certainly not the way forward.


Just a thought though, I don't see unity as convergence but as a culmination of diversity. If there is room for integration then there is a diversity potentially worth utilizing. Though my intention here is not to offend or mainly to argue against your point by the way, I'm just sharing a perspective here (only a different one). Thought I'd point that out. It's all peace ... white flags and such.

Posted:A year ago

#23

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,270 2,439 1.1
I think the problem is culture. In a majority dominated industry, there tends to be a culture that makes minorities feel as though they don't fully fit in.

A minority group get together can be a great way to network and relax in a non-threatening environment. But it won't do much toward actually changing the culture that is the problem to begin with.

You have to work to change the culture by diversification and integration. Laws, guidelines, policies and just plain old professionalism are a good start.

Posted:A year ago

#24

Jessica Hyland Character Artist

337 1,427 4.2
If women are uncomfortable working around men then it is not the fault of the men.
It's also not the fault of the women themselves. It's natural to feel a little uncomfortable when something as basic as your gender marks you out amongst your peers.
Just a thought though, I don't see unity as convergence but as a culmination of diversity. If there is room for integration then there is a diversity potentially worth utilizing.
Well said :3 Instead of telling members of minority groups to just 'act like everyone else(ie the majority) so you'll fit in' I think the better solution is for the majority to recognise the unique perspectives and strengths of the minority so they can work together and become stronger for it. This is why we need more women and ethnic minorities working in games; not simply for equality's sake but because of the different things they can bring to the table.

Posted:A year ago

#25

Andy Samson QA Supervisor, Digital Media Exchange

237 180 0.8
"is it really so offensive to allow women a safe space to be themselves and have fun together in their free time?"

It's not offensive but kind of weird. So women need a special place, they're not actually "themselves" when they're around the opposite sex? Are women being pretentious most of the time? This game jam sounds like a group of non-male people playing games inside the women's comfort room.

Posted:A year ago

#26

Jessica Hyland Character Artist

337 1,427 4.2
@Andy
It's perfectly normal to be more comfortable in groups of the same gender as oneself/evenly-mixed genders. Being the only woman in the room, or one of four women in a 100+ team, feels 'kind of weird', so I'll take hanging out with a bunch of ladies every now and again over being constantly surrounded by guys day in, day out. It has nothing to do with pretense, just comfort levels.
This game jam sounds like a group of non-male people playing games inside the women's comfort room.
Do you even know what a game jam is? It's not playing games, it's making them. But besides that - no, it's 'a group of non-male people'(ie women) making games in an office full of women. That's all.

Posted:A year ago

#27

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

528 788 1.5
@Jessica
Equal ratios of men and women in the workplace, then? That'd be nice for sure.
No. Balancing numbers has nothing to do with it. That's not what equality means in this context for me. Equality means being treated equally regardless of your gender, and excluding men from a formally organised event is still sexual discrimination, and two wrongs don't make a right. I know it's done with good intentions, but I still can't entirely agree with it. I think it just portrays a "them against us" atmosphere that's the thing we should be avoiding.

And no, I don't feel awkward in a room full of women because I think "I'm in a room full of people" which is exactly the same as being in a room full of men or a mix of the two.

Posted:A year ago

#28

Jade Law Senior concept artist, Reloaded Productions

72 291 4.0
Well said Dave, you said exactly what I was thinking.

Posted:A year ago

#29

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,270 2,439 1.1
Dave, I largely agree with you. But there can, and usually is, an unfortunate difference in the way a man is treated in a room full of women and how a women is treated in a room full of men. Now not all of us are chauvinistic pigs but a roomful of women working with a guy tends to be more professional than a roomful of men and a woman.

Equally said, a women in the right room full of men could feel not problems at all if the culture of the men in the room were respectful and professional and incorporated her into the team, as you said, as simply another person. Women tend to be objectified far more often then men. And because of that, men feel far more flattered when they are objectified so the awkward feeling doesn't even equally apply in a reverse situation.

As I said before, there is a cultural problem. Not a ratio problem which is where I definitely agree with you.

If we all treated each other with respect and as professionals, this article probably wouldn't even exist.

Posted:A year ago

#30

Holly Pickering Prop and Environment Art, White Paper Games

2 3 1.5
Well, this certainly is a lively debate. Which is really good to see, but as someone who actually took part in this event I think I should give a little insight. I work in a studio that is rather swayed on the male side of the spectrum, as one would expect. And it's a great atmosphere. I don't feel intimidated or anything like that.

But I can count my close female friends on one hand, maybe on my second at a push. So a main reason I attended?? Try and make my social circle more balanced and with people I have similar interests with.

Once the jam started, it didn't matter what gender we were, we were just people who wanted to make games. So we did, we had fun. For a lot of us, including myself it was my first jam. Attending this one gave me heaps more confidence in this space and now I'm really into it and can't wait for the next one I can participate in, which will probably be a standard game jam. So cool, lets go make some games ok??

Posted:A year ago

#31

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

528 788 1.5
@ Jim Webb
But there can, and usually is, an unfortunate difference in the way a man is treated in a room full of women and how a women is treated in a room full of men. Now not all of us are chauvinistic pigs but a roomful of women working with a guy tends to be more professional than a roomful of men and a woman.
That is what I meant though. If it's because of how the men behave, that's what needs to be addressed. I don't want to come across as being against women wanting to be around more women, because I do wish the balance was more even. But I remember a while back, someone on here made a comment saying something like "it's a shame there aren't men-only pubs", which I thought was pretty disgusting. While the motivation is different here and with far better intentions, it still makes me a bit uncomfortable that it's effectively the same thing. If the percentage of women in the industry started to increase, at which point would we draw the line and say it's not acceptable any more because they're not enough of a minority?
I'm not totally against this event, because I do agree with its motivation, it's just that because it's a publically advertised, formally organised event it just makes me feel icky that it's still a form of discrimination and wish it could be achieved in a better way.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dave Herod on 7th November 2012 11:02am

Posted:A year ago

#32

Andy Samson QA Supervisor, Digital Media Exchange

237 180 0.8
@ Jessica
"Do you even know what a game jam is?"

Yes I know what it is (it says right there in the article, "games development"), I was referring to "this" particular game jam. Before the word was coined we were already "game jamming" in high school using turbo basic. I was speaking (metaphorically) in the point of view of someone who does not understand what it is.

Since "jamming" is associated with "playing" music together. People who are not familiar with the jargon when they read the headline will think that's what it is; females playing games together inside their comfort ro- err, zone.

I understand what it all means but this kind of stuff, gender segregation, just create walls instead of bridging whatever gaps that made women seem incapable (to the old fashioned). Same with men only groups or events, It just looks childish.

Posted:A year ago

#33

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