Network In Play

Improving Diversity at Game Related Events – Some Reflections

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In the Spring of 2016 our Network in Play project ran surveys of GameCrafts in Dublin and Limerick to understand who attends these events and to better understand what skills and knowledge were co-constructed. The full results of these surveys were described in The Diversity Game feature here on gamedevelopers.ie. – http://gamedevelopers.ie/the-diversity-game/

What emerged was that existing events tend to attract a cohort of mostly young, male attendees with a majority of programmers either studying or working.

GameCraft is not unusual here – observation at other local games and technology events would suggest we all need to think a little harder about improving diversity.

PLANNING BEGINNER WORKSHOPS

In the summer of 2016, the Network in Play research project worked with key local partners to design and run three beginner game design and development workshops. The workshops sought to address the lack of gender and skill diversity which emerged in our surveys.

We  built upon the advice of the AlterConf event held in Dublin (https://alterconf.com/conferences/2016/dublin-ireland) in the summer of 2016, and our research collaborators in the Refig network (http://www.refig.ca/).

Our workshop goals were to attract increased participation from a wide variety of art, design and creative backgrounds; women; and people with no game development experience.

Firstly, our publicity highlighted that these workshops were ‘diversity’ and ‘female friendly’ and ‘beginner’ events.

Secondly,  we advertised our events widely outside of existing game specific media channels including on art, creative and design networks.

Thirdly, we developed a Code of Conduct and we put it front and centre in our online registration system, to make certain that everyone was aware of their rights and responsibilities as attendees, including the tutors.

Fourthly, in order to make the workshops as accessible as possible, we did not charge a registration fee. We also provided a free lunch.

Fifthly, we ran them as four hour long events, rather than full day events.

Finally, we carefully planned the event in collaboration with our tutors so that the tutors understood who would be attending and what we were trying to achieve.

THE WORKSHOPS

We held three different four-hour workshops over the course of three consecutive Saturdays, each with a different theme, building logically on the one before.

Workshop #1: Board Game Design:
This workshop focused on the design of non-digital games, using board games and card games to illustrate basic game mechanics and design concepts. Part of this workshop involved groups of participants working together to design a drafting card game.

Workshop #2: Interactive Fiction:
This workshop used the software tool Twine to illustrate the concept of interactive fiction and non-linear storytelling, and to demonstrate how the tool could be used to write and publish a text-based digital game. As a part of the workshop, each individual used Twine to create an interactive fiction story.

Workshop #3: 2D Games in Unity with Fungus:
This workshop used the Fungus suite of tools to create two-dimensional games within Unity. The workshop introduced the Unity development software and Fungus, after which participants completed a set tutorial designed to provide practice making games with these tools.

ATTENDANCE AND VENUES

Due to space and other logistical restraints, we capped the number of registrations at 20 each week. There was a great amount of interest in the workshops and each event had a full 20 registrations, plus a waiting list. However, the number of people who actually turned up was considerably smaller. 7 people attended the board game workshop, 10 attended the interactive fiction workshop, and 14 attended the 2D games in Unity workshop.

We were surprised by the low turnout to the workshops, but there are a few reasons that may help explain it. A number of attendees on the first two weeks expressed having difficulty locating the venue. Additionally, there was torrential rain on the Saturday of the first workshop.

Another reason may have been that our events were free-of-charge. While this was meant to encourage attendance, it also meant that registrants had nothing to lose by not attending. It may be better to institute a nominal registration fee of 5 Euro, which would cover the cost of providing lunch. Or we could keep the event free and let people bring their own lunch.

There may have been other things that we could have done to encourage attendance. One of these would have been to increase the accessibility of our events: for example, we did not have the resources to provide childcare facilities, and many of those who had to cancel stated that they had been unable to find care for their children. Additionally, our first venue was not handicap-accessible.

The rise in attendance over the course of the three weeks may have been due to word-of-mouth publicity: many attendees at later events reported hearing about the workshops from those that attended the earlier events. We had a large number of repeat attendees.

ATTENDEES

We gauged user experience and workshop effectiveness through registration questions, exit surveys, and participant observation[1].

Attendees at our events were predominantly women, mostly from the 25-34 age group. Our attendees were also predominantly white:

INFORMAL LEARNING AND BUILDING SKILLS

Each session built upon the previous session, and each showcased different aspects of game development.

The first session illustrated how game design mechanics work in concert with one another, using the concepts of set collection and drafting in card game design. The workshop also highlighted the benefits and challenges of collaborative game design, as participants worked together in groups to craft their games.

The prototypes developed included card games featuring flower arrangement and dressing snowmen, and participants were pleased with being able to express creativity in their designs. The different artistic backgrounds that participants brought to the sessions was evident here, as participants sketched various concepts on notepads and on the cards themselves.

The second session introduced the concept of narrative, highlighting how storytelling in a game is unlike that in other, linear texts. The session highlighted the difficulties of containing a branching narrative, as well as managing player freedom in order to better serve gameplay and story. Each participant produced his or her own story, though some who knew each other outside of the workshop collaborated to work on an idea that they had been incubating for some time.

The third session used existing software tools with participants using the Fungus tools in Unity to work through a set tutorial. The tutors highlighted not only the correct way to complete the tutorial, but also a number of pitfalls that users could run into along the way, highlighting the procedural nature of the software and keeping participants aware of the importance of computational thinking while developing.

Participants had different levels of familiarity with the software and different levels of fluency with computers, but those who were experienced offered help to those who were not. Participants were so enthusiastic that everyone, including the tutors, elected to stay for an hour after the session was scheduled to finish and continue working.

OVERALL REFLECTIONS

Our diverse publicity channels and our inclusive language in our publicity worked very well: we saw much greater participation from women, and we had attendees with a much more diverse set of skills. While our decision to make the workshops free of charge was something of a double-edged sword (as discussed above), it did have a positive impact in that we attracted some attendees who were unemployed.

Furthermore, our code of conduct and the language and content of our workshops was positively received by all attendees: 100% of those who attended reported feeling welcome both by conference organisers and other attendees, and also expressed interest in attending more events. Attendees also praised our tutors, showing the benefit of having tutors who were both experienced game designers and experienced teachers.

While the events were positively received, there is still some room for improvement. Our “diversity-friendly” workshops were successful in attracting more women and individuals with non-technical backgrounds, but there is room for improvement. We hope in the future to accommodate child-care needs, greater accessibility (such as wheelchair access), and a more racially diverse group of attendees.We also hope to build a community of practice.

NEXT STEPS

We hope that this feature will be useful to others who are running game related events in Ireland and are interested in improving diversity. In 2017 we hope to run further events that will build upon our experience and bring these workshops to venues outside of Dublin.

Furthermore, we hope to engage with other stakeholders to help support diversity, inclusivity and address discrimination in informal learning environments. We think our experience should be relevant to meetups and other voluntary training and networking events.  Do get in touch if you are interested in becoming involved. Many thanks to our funders, hosts, supporters and tutors.

RESOURCES

Refig safer Space Policy guidelines – http://www.refig.ca/safer-space-policy/

Network in Play Code of Conduct – http://gamedevelopers.ie/diversity/refig-nip-code-of-conduct/

Alt Conference – http://www.alterconf.com/conferences/dublin-ireland

AUTHOR BIOS

Joshua D. Savage is a PhD student at Maynooth University and is also involved in research initiatives at Trinity College Dublin and DCU. He has worked as a freelance writer and designer since 2011 and has researched games since 2001.

Dr. Aphra Kerr is a Senior Lecturer in Maynooth University. She established gamedevelopers.ie back in 2003 and she has been researching games since 2000. She is a collaborator on the ReFig project.

Vicky Twomey-Lee runs diversity-friendly tech workshops and events for Coding Grace and PyLadies Dublin, and is also a collaborator on the ReFig project. She also co-organises GameCraft (game jams) when she gets a chance, and still has a fondness of retro games. She’s currently working as a tech content curator for a tech event called 404.

NOTES

[1] Participant Observation is a research technique in which a researcher joins an activity or event as a participant, but also observes the activity and keeps notes about both the experience of taking part in the activity and the behaviour of other participants. This is generally done with the full knowledge of the other participants, as was the case with this research.

 

The Darkside Detective released today

The Darkside Detective

 

The Darkside Detective is a classic point and click adventure game with a distinct sense of humour. It has been released today for PC, Mac and Linux.

Noir Lore

Where cultists crawl, where demons dwell, where the occult… occults? you’ll find Detective Francis McQueen, the sole member of the criminally underfunded Darkside Division. When evil darkens the doorsteps of Twin Lakes City – hell, even when it just loiters around shop fronts or hangs out in shady alleyways – he’s there, ready to investigate the cases that nobody else will. He is The Darkside Detective.

Join Detective McQueen and Officer Dooley as they investigate 6 bizarre cases. From the occult to the supernatural, anything is possible in this micro adventure game.

 

The Making of

The game was born at the Galway Game Jam in November 2014. Its original demo created in under 8 hours by Paul Conway & Christopher Colston. The short prototype proved to be quite popular after it was posted online, convincing the team that there was life in creating an extended game. Dave & Tracey McCabe joined the team as a writer and programmer respectively, with Ben Prunty coming onboard as a composer.

The main aim of the team is to deliver a series of small adventure stories all wrapped up into the one game. Come and join Detective Francis McQueen as he investigates the most bizarre and obscure cases that come across his desk. From the occult to the supernatural, anything is possible in this micro adventure game.

Reviews

  • I enjoy humor in games, but it’s rare that I genuinely crack up. DoomCube’s The Darkside Detective demo had me laughing consistently with its silly sense of humor…
  • Darkside Detective looks like it might be a nineties Lucasarts take on Ghostbusters, by way of Columbo.
  • Looking for a new point-and-click adventure game to get excited for? Well, Darkside Detective may just be up your alley…
  • …it’s got a nice-‘n-breezy sense of humour running throughout.
  • …a great moody soundtrack and wonderful dark, yet colorful pixel art graphics.
  • There certainly is an undeniable charm to the game, with a sense of humor that pokes fun at all the other detective stories that take themselves way too seriously.
  • …definitely has potential

Get it

The Darkside Detective
The Darkside Detective
Developer: Spooky Doorway
Price: 11,49 €

Humble Bundle Version

TouchPress (Dublin) Multiple Roles

 

 

Image result for touchpress

TouchPress Inc, (formerly StoryToys)  make educational apps for children and are looking for candidates for multiple roles.

The company which is behind the hugely successful My Very Hungry Caterpillar franchise is based in Trinity Street, Dublin.

The vacancies are for:

*Build Engineer
*UNITY Engineer
*Full Stack Senior Developer
*Graphic Designer/Art Director
*Project Manager

These vacancies are full time.

For more info and to apply go to: https://www.touchpress.com/careers/

 

Marketing Role – Galway City

We are recruiting a Marketing Ninja (yes, that’s a real job tittle) to join our small, world class, high performing team of game designers, artists, developers, animators and testers.

The role is full time permanent and salary will be negotiated on second interview.

The ideal person will be ready to hit the ground running on a major project, executing the marketing plan of an upcoming launch while undertaking a variety of marketing projects for the existing game portfolio.

Exciting and challenging day to day work will include:
– Interacting with international Journalists, Bloggers, Reviewers, Streamers by phone and email.
– Writing PR, articles, player community content, posts.
– Producing screen recordings, live videos, gifs, memes.
– Interacting with our player base through email, forums and numerous social media accounts.
– Building and managing a network of relationships with other community managers.
– Managing website content, building micro sites and landing pages.
– Running competitions and organising events.

… and loads more, so the person needs to be used to high performing environments with lots of personal responsibility given and hard work and high output expected.

To apply for this position please email lordbusiness@9thimpact.com with:
1. A summary of any complex marketing projects you have executed and the results achieved
2. Links to fun content you have written
3. Links to game related forums where you contribute
4. Links to any websites or landing pages you have built and a summary of the tools you used
5. Examples of PR which you had published in major media

If you are interested in establishing a career in game marketing but don’t have experience in this field, we may consider an internship in addition to this role – so please specify when you contact us.

More information available at http://9thimpact.com/were-hiring-marketing-ninjas/

Graphics Programmer Role – Galway City

We’re looking for a Graphics Wizard (that’s an official company title) to join the 9th Impact team. You might be familiar with the role from such job descriptions as Graphics Programmer or Rendering Engineer.

The role is full time permanent based in the magical city of Galway and salary will be negotiated on second interview.

The candidate will have a passion developing amazing visual effects and love the challenge of optimizing for mobile. You will have strong maths background, an eye for detail, artistic flair, code in C# and have experience in Unity engine.

Day to day tasks will include:
Designing & developing materials, fluids, particles and special effects
Perfecting shadowing and lighting within constraints
Optimizing frame rates, achieving data compression on textures, meshes
Solving mathematical geometry problems in motions, collisions and culling

… and loads more, so the person needs to be used to high performing environments with lots of personal responsibility given and hard work and high output expected.

To apply for this position please email lordbusiness@9thimpact.com with:
1. A list of any engineering/physics/maths/game dev qualifications you have and your final grades
2. A link to your portfolio or your GitHub or attach examples of shaders, ray tracers or videos of effects you’ve created
3. Links to games you’ve worked on and specify your role in each
4. Any other cool stuff you want to share

If you are interested in establishing a career in graphics programming, are familiar with unity but not FX or vice versa, we may consider a junior position with training – so please specify when you contact us.

 

More information available at http://9thimpact.com/were-hiring-graphics-wizards/

FreemantleMedia & 9th Impact Sign Danger Mouse App Deal

FreemantleMedia Kids & Family has announced today that it has signed a deal with award-winning Irish studio 9th Impact to produce a Danger Mouse licensed app.

The Danger Games app will be available globally on App Store and Google Play Store this summer. Taking the episode Quark Games as its inspiration, The Danger Games app takes fans on a mission-busting journey which allows users to interact with the World’s greatest secret agent on multiple levels.

Ahead of its anticipated release, the app will be unveiled to the public this August at Gamescom in Germany.

Danger Mouse burst back on to CBBC in 2015, the high-octane comedy animation follows the adventures of the eponymous secret agent and his ever faithful sidekick Penfold as they engage in all manner of mind-blowing missions aided, abetted and aggravated by a menagerie of old and new allies and adversaries.

Tessa Moore, SVP Global Brand Management FremantleMedia Kids & Family said: “With the second series of Danger Mouse back on CBBC screens this year, we are thrilled to be working with 9thImpact on this exciting new digital partnership. We hope consumers will have as much fun interacting with these innovative games as they have watching the show.”

9th Impact is an award-winning game development studio based in Galway, Ireland. With a workforce of, Irish artists, French animators, German and Irish engineers developing mobile games in partnership with other artists, studios or rights owners.

Finn Krewer, Head of Development at 9th Impact said: “Our team are all huge fans of Danger Mouse and our mission is to make a game that our fellow fans of the show young and old will love. We’ll be releasing snapshots of the game as it develops on the game’s website and social media.”

To celebrate today’s announcement, consumers can get their hands on a free sticker pack full of characters from the world of Danger Mouse exclusively for iMessage users available on the App Store.  Link to iMessage Stickers: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/danger-mouse-stickers/id1197019341

See http://9thimpact.com/ 

The Little Acre now out on iTunes

The Little Acre is now out on iPad and iPhone.

The Little Acre follows the story of Aidan and his daughter, Lily, set in 1950’s Ireland. After discovering clues as to the whereabouts of his missing father, Aidan begins investigating until he inadvertently finds himself transported to a strange new world. Ever the hero, Lily sets off after him, encountering her own perils along the way. Featuring full voice-acting and hand-drawn animation, The Little Acre is a memorable, lovingly crafted adventure game.

The Little Acre is developed by Pewter Games, alongside Executive Producer Charles Cecil (Broken Sword, Beneath a Steel Sky).

Well done all!

Features:

-Two playable characters
-Traditional hand-drawn animation
-Unique perspective transitions
-Beautiful original score
-Fully voice acted
-Text Available in English, French, German, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese and Russian.

 

The Little Acre
The Little Acre
Price: €3.49

 

Inspirefest Family Fringe – GameCraft Unplugged

GameCraftThis year’s Inspirefest 2017 will again include a range of Family Fringe events.

Hosted at Accenture’s The Dock building on 8 July, the free event is set to have some of Ireland’s most exciting workshops for kids, allowing them to create whatever they like, from board games to their own soft robots. Familiar faces from gamedevelopers.ie, GameCraft and Coding Grace will be involved along with a host of others.

Gamedevelopers.ie and GameCraft will be collaborating with Inspirefest to run two workshops  that allow children who love board games (and their parents) to put their good ideas to work and create their very own games, with GameCraft UnPlugged providing all the necessary tools.

Each game session will be 1.5 hours each, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Materials are provided on the day to make your crazy game, you don’t need to bring anything but you and your family. Come along, say hello or join in.

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Attendance is free but you must register in advance via eventbrite –https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/inspirefest-family-fringe-accenture-the-dock-8-july-tickets-34921355715