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Inspiring girls to make their own games: Game Girl Workshop at ISEA 2014, Dubai

, December 12, 2014

The lack of female game developers has been getting a lot of press lately. As co-founder of Game Girl Workshop I’ve been working since 2010 to tear down the barriers that still keep girls from making their own games.

Our workshops provide a game development crash course to inspire girls to have fun with technology. The girls get introduced to the fundamentals of game design, audio, graphic and coding programs. Then, they build their own computer game based on their own imagination and experiences.

Ultimately, the ambition of Game Girl Workshop is for more women to be included and advance within the games and technology industry, thus helping to achieve a balance in the workforce and to create a multitude of game narratives!

Game Girl Workshop at the 20th International Symposium on Electronic Art in Dubai

This year, Game Girl Workshop was selected by a panel of internationally renowned artists and curators, to run a game development workshop as part of the prestigious 10-day-long ISEA 2014 conference in Dubai.

Nine girls between the ages of 11 and 14 participated. They produced their games in two teams with each member of the team taking on the role of graphic artist, audio designer or “coder”.

The girls got an overview of the graphic/audio asset pipeline and tools and the techniques used to create art/audio assets. All the art and audio assets, were created from scratch and implemented using Unity and Playmaker.

They also got hands-on with Unity after first receiving a thorough walkthrough of the Unity user interface, terminology, game objects, materials, geometry and physics. Plus, they got taught how to “code” their game through super fun physical play!

Game Girl Workshop isn’t only about the tools though, it’s also very much about creating a space where the girls can come up with their own ideas before transforming them into game mechanics, art and audio.

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All in all, it was an extremely positive experience, and all the girls were very engaged and focused. It’s so much more fun to work on a game you’ve come up with yourself, and do what you like doing whether it’s graphics, audio or creating state machines!

Considering that they only had three days to work on their games, and they had no prior knowledge, the workshop results are really impressive. Below is a link to one of the games and a brief explanation of the game story.

Team Aluma Luna

The world is dark and gray and the player has to fight the Evil Grandmother to get all the colours back into the world! Time to play the wonderful “Twilight” game!

Instructions to play:

  • If you are running a Chrome browser, right-click and select “Run This Plug-in”
  • On the start screen, click on “Play”

  • Use the LEFT/RIGHT arrows to navigate on the level

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Tools used in the workshop

More Game Girl Workshop adventures coming soon!

Game Girl Workshop is a team of female games industry professionals from the Danish games industry. As well as Dubai, we’ve held a number of game development workshops in Denmark and the West Bank, Palestinian Territories. You can follow us on our adventures on Twitter and Facebook and at gamegirlworkshop.org.

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  1. I’m the one who wants to become a game-developer. I’m 21 and I wanna learn programming, modelling and mapping to make my own incredible game :) But I feel so sad when I realise that fact that I can’t do this :((

  2. Why is that first pic showing a monitor with a low-resolution, non-widescreen video input? I wanted to have some quality sleep tonight but that will surely haunt my dreams :(. Uncool man, uncool.

    Also, are the girls on the website (http://gamegirlworkshop.org/the-girls/denmark_page/) between 11 and 14 also?

  3. Kudos for that great initiative! Having more female game developers and also more female game designers will definitely help make the world a better place. Keep in mind that games are an incredibly powerful and persuasive art form. And art is communication. So it matters a lot what you want to communicate with your games. And I guess most girls got something more interesting to say than “eh, shoot those zombies to be the winner” ;-) … that doesn’t say there aren’t males who also have awesome game ideas – just that ATM, one important perspective is mostly missing ;-)

  4. ohhh i like that unity and it to with in pepole

  5. Interesting to see this event in Dubai, where there isn’t serious male game developers to begin with, the thing is there isn’t enough funding beyond low quality games and attention seeking events that mainly do a quick cash rip off from the government then fades away.
    Looks like its up to me to push game development further in here!

  6. Well done Unity Team…Keep it up….But when you all are coming to India ???

    1. I’m too waiting for that day! :)

      1. Christopher Pope

        December 16, 2014 at 3:39 pm

        Ha, we’ve been to India in the past a few times. 2015 should bring some more trip opportunities, but tell us what events to attend.

  7. Holy shit that game is creepy.

  8. Oh. I like team. Bravo

  9. Its very intresting that all kind of people get involve on game developement.
    I mean the industry has been leaded by men almost all time but there are people who care about diversity and acceptation ^-^ I’m glad for you people. Good look!!!

    By the way I am mexican & I’m not using a translator, sorry for my bat enlish.

  10. I just don’t understand what is all the fuss about encouraging girl female to program,
    and the need for more female in the industry. It just does not make sense.
    People do what they are confortable doing and we just have to admit there are just areas where male are more engage then female.
    How about a knitting workshop for man, sure you will have some men turning up (Weirdos)
    But this is just an area where female are more engage then male that’s all there is to it.

    1. You probably didn’t quite get the point of the post; The’re trying to engage girls that are already interested in game dev, noone forces anyone to participate. The reason why there are so less girls around here is cause they are deterred, nothing more. It may be that men will be always more, but thats what these workshops wanna change:) I rememer somewhere in history(1000? 1500? probably) females even started to fight as a hobby, just like knitting! So these attempts are great IMO, nothing too male about game dev:D

      1. fair enough.

      2. what exactly is deterring them? serious question here, because i never felt any gripe towards female game devs. Maybe i’m from another planet or i don’t see things the same way but I also don’t see how is this helping any possible problem women have getting into the game industry. In fact i always felt it like being a very inclusive industry.

        1. Exactly. Well-meaning initiatives like this are kind of a double-edged sword. They can make a positive statement but by the same token can sustain a feeling of inferiority among the participants. I prefer the tacit acceptance of all people that (I believe) the Unity community normally displays.

        2. Emil "AngryAnt" Johansen

          December 15, 2014 at 4:05 pm

          Awesome that you’ve not run into that sort of thing :)

          Unfortunately not all places are like that. Thankfully initiatives like this exist to help push things in a direction where we get more uptake on a more diverse work force and -environment – thus turning our creative input up to 11, maximising our potential output.

        3. I agree so far my adventures in art, games & programming have been inclusive & supportive but sometimes I notice other ladies still feel intimidated or otw discouraged.. if anything I hope my efforts inspire other people from all walks of life and various gender identifications, to find their joy, follow their interests & nurture their imagination to create what their hearts desire.. this workshop sounds really awesome though.. at any age I’d love to attend.. but I might feel bad for people who aren’t girls who’d like to participate..

        4. I agree that game dev has places for both men and women (/and mer :P hehe) but that thing about fighting is not correct. There’s a reason why men are generally stronger, faster and tougher than women, that’s the result of many years of natural selection… men were not monogamist at some point in time, and they had to bash each others heads in order to… you know… reproduce, eventually the ones who bashed stronger and could endure being hit more were the ones who either survived or reproduced. Men were selected by nature, in rather violent ways… only the strongest survived and passed the genes on. You can observe the opposite in various animals where the females are stronger/bigger than the males for the same reasons (physical advantage).

          Long Story Short: Men had to fight each other to control the harems in the past. Women had better stuff to do :P.

  11. I love diversity in the gaming industry but I feel calling girls/women “Girl Gamer”, or “A Woman who makes games” still alienates them in a way that seems a bit unfair. For example I’m a black guy who programs in C#, for years I was ridiculed because I didn’t want become a rapper, or an athlete. Again, I love to see a much larger, and diverse group of game developers, and gamers alike. I think we should all just call someone a game programmer, game developer, etc. without any bias. I love what you’re doing Unity Tech, I just hope this leads to a future without any bias.

  12. “t’s quite a stereotypical to see that they can do only puzzle games, – and I know they can do more that point-and-click and puzzle games.”
    @vulgerstal : Puzzle and point&click games are not “stereotypical”… I’m a “typical” male, and I have no interest at all in FPS & action shooters. Monument Valley, Device 6 or Gemini Rue for example ( all puzzles and point&click adventure games ) are some of my favorite games of recent years.

  13. @Who: Kitchen is where all the knives are. Food for thought :3

  14. Keep going! I would like to see adventure/action/FPS game from perspective of female game developers. You know it’s quite a stereotypical to see that they can do only puzzle games, – and I know they can do more that point-and-click and puzzle games. So I guess it’s only matter of time – and so We’ll see really cool games from them, in many genres!