Ourea wins two awards at Games Fleadh 2020

Rewrite Games, an indie development team in TU Dublin’s School of Media, has won two awards at Ireland’s Games Fleadh, which took place on the 4th March, in Thurles, Co. Tipperary. 

Their game Ourea, a cinematic puzzle PC game, picked up two awards as the team of 5 came home with the Best Game Built Using A Game Engine and Best in Social Impact awards. 

Ourea is a cinematic narrative game about discovering the harrowing past of a long-forgotten world.

Overcome environmental puzzles as you ascend an ancient and mysterious mountain in search of what happened to those who inhabited it before.

The protagonist Glyf is the last of the Oreads, an ancient species of mountain nymphs who inhabited the planet Ourea for centuries. The Oread species drew energy from immense heat or fire through their natural power. Using the trees and natural life that surrounded them, the Oreads lived off the land, subsequently destroying nature in the process.

Having been very well received at the show, the team won both awards against 32 other teams.

Speaking of the awards, Gary O’ReillyProduction Lead at Rewrite Games said “We’re delighted to receive these awards at Games Fleadh and to meet so many people looking forward to Ourea’s release. It is a huge motivation for us, and we aim to deliver a fun yet thought provoking game in May.” 

The team consists of five students with Conor Barron on Art, Robyn Behan on Narrative and Art, Tom Eustace on Design, Samuel Hegner on Tech and Gary on Production.

You can find out more about Ourea and sign up for the upcoming demo at https://oureagame.com/

You can also follow the game’s development on social media at https://twitter.com/OureaGame and https://www.instagram.com/oureagame/

Ourea is releasing on Steam in May 2020. Take a look at the trailer. Well done all.


This is not a plumbing issue!

Aphra Kerr and Vicky Twomey-Lee explore how to make game events more diverse and inclusive.

The games and technology industries are fond of saying that they have a pipeline issue. They argue that there are not enough people studying and entering the industries, and their solutions have focussed on promoting educational and employment opportunities. Advertisements of women in white coats, persons of colour in hard hats and the ill-fated European campaign ‘Science: It’s a Girl Thing’ have all tried to break down the perceived stigma around working in tech.

The pipeline metaphor is catchy but it is misleading. It presumes that the issue with diversity is simply one of spending more on promotion of the working opportunities than a wider structural and cultural issue. But fancy imagery is not going to break down the structures and cultures that are reproducing the marginalisation of minorities and others in technology.

The flow of water into the pipeline is not only slow, it is also leaky. Many leave the industry, and this leaves it with a workforce that skews young and inexperienced. The metaphor also ignores the lack of diversity in many industries and occupations. It is hard to address recruitment and retention when you are simply not recruiting and retaining a diverse range of workers. This week we will see a range of events to mark international women’s day – the challenge is turning these events into meaningful change throughout the year.

The Persistent Low Levels of Females in Games and Discrimination


The pipeline metaphor and the skills shortage debate conveniently ignores the diversity of people entering the technology industries. Indeed, many industry surveys and companies in Ireland don’t collect, or won’t reveal, the diversity of their workers. The Oldsburg Nord City report on the audio-visual industries in Ireland estimates that there are approximately 16,930 full time equivalent workers in 2016 in Ireland and 2,000 in the games industry, of which only 150 worked in development. We don’t know anymore about these people. We simply do not have any demographic data on these workers (see https://www.imirt.ie/industryreports/).

Creative industries and games industry data in the UK is more comprehensive.  The latest census of the games industry in the UK had 3,200 responses (see UK Games Industry Census – Understanding diversity in the UK games industry workforce). It estimated that 10% of employees were Black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) and 28% were female across all occupations. This findings puts female representation at well under the national average of all those in work, roughly equal to those working in film and television in the UK and above that of the general IT/software sector. It highlights the persistent low level of females working in certain parts of the creative and cultural industries and in technology.

And what is working in these industries like for those who do enter? Developer satisfaction surveys conducted by the International Game Developers Association in North America point to ongoing workplace challenges including discrimination, overwork, unpaid work, employment volatility and high staff turnover (see https://igda.org/dss/). Many companies have no formal equality policies or complaints procedures. In North America there are also widespread differences in pay across occupational roles. For example, programming roles are overwhelmingly male but also the most highly paid. These are what academics often call structural issues – and we need to work harder to change them.

Refiguring Innovation in Games


In 2015 we became part of an international networking project called ‘Refiguring Innovation in Games’, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council in Canada. The focus of the project was on diversity, inclusion and equity in the games industry and culture and addressing the structural challenges identified above. A key part of this project was its focus on equity and the adoption of feminist theories and methodologies. The project brought together researchers and community organisers in Canada, North America, the UK and Ireland (see http://www.refig.ca/).

ReFiG focused on four areas: games culture, the games industry, formal and informal learning. Our project in Ireland focussed on informal games education and how informal games education events might challenge or reproduce diversity. We set up a ‘Network in Play’ of local academics, community organisers and others. The funded part of this project is just coming to an end (see https://gamedevelopers.ie/diversity/).

Researching Game jams in Ireland


Informal learning events are generally not formally accredited and not typically not classroom based. Informal learning can take place in formal settings, but we were interested in the burgeoning range of hackathons and game jams in cities and towns around the country. They are usually ‘open to all’. You just sign up online. Most are free to attend. Who was organising them, who was attending and what were they learning?

Game jams are a collaborative intense game making event where people form teams to work on digital or non-digital game making. They sometimes last all weekend, like the Global Game Jam, or as in our examples, they last one day. A theme is announced at the beginning of the day, and then teams are formed and people try to make something in line with the theme. At the end of the day people play each other’s games and often prizes are awarded. Game jams have been praised for being a useful way to learn content, technical skills and team working skills. They are sometimes seen as a pathway into games and tech education and a way to build local game making communities.

Yet we were struck by the fact that the attendees at the game jams we studied were not very diverse. In a previous feature on gamedevelopers.ie we reported on our initial findings on a game jam in Dublin, and subsequently we surveyed game jams in Cork and Limerick. Attendees at these events skewed male, young (18-25), white, and often the attendees were already studying or working in technology (see https://gamedevelopers.ie/the-diversity-game/). 

Our conclusion is that games jams may be good opportunities for learning, but they are not necessarily good for diversity. If attention is not given to explicitly broadening attendance, and building an inclusive learning environment, then game jams and similar types of events may actually merely replicate highly individualist, competitive, temporary ‘crunch’ like working patterns. It is perhaps not surprising that competitive game jams developed in North America and were developed by people who already worked in technology jobs.

Of course not all game jams are like this. Some are explicitly designed to be diverse, to challenge cultural and political norms, and to create spaces for marginalised creators. However, the key point seems to be, that when informal events are organised without attention to diversity, they may simply reproduce structures and cultures of exclusion. As with many ‘open to all’ events, organisers may not think about, or may not have the resources and capacity to make the events diverse and inclusive.

Organising Diverse and Inclusive Technology Events


Organising diverse and inclusive informal educational events can face significant challenges. We organised creative workshops in interactive fiction, board game design and coding for games in Dublin and Galway and in each case we faced a range of challenges. If you are relying on the good will of others to provide venues, technologies and support, you will find yourself being asked to compromise on certain issues. Do you run the event if your venue is inaccessible to some, if the technology is locked down to the desks and only certain software programmes are available?  How can you make sure that those with caring responsibilities can attend? Do you impose quotas to diversify attendance?

We wanted to include more women in our events and we achieved over 50% female attendees in our workshops. We wanted to include people with diverse creative backgrounds and skills in our workshops and we achieved that.

Your diversity challenges may differ from ours, but the key lesson we learnt was you need to identify who is missing from your events, or who is leaving early, and you need to actively work to address the reasons behind this. It is not enough to say your event is open to all and you have a Code of Conduct. You actively need to work to make attendance at your event diverse, reach out beyond your own online and offline networks to bring in new groups, and make your event a welcoming and inclusive space for everyone so positive word of mouth will bring in others.

Today we are publishing a free to download report and a 10-point roadmap to help organisers to think about the key issues you need to consider in order to make your games or tech event more diverse and inclusive.

Our 10-point roadmap considers the following ten issues and gives tips on how to address them:

* Time
* Space
* Publicity and Promotion
* Code of Conduct
* Cost to attendees
* Organisational Work/Labour
* Pedagogy of event
* Knowledge and expertise of tutors and attendees
* Technology choices
* Culture of event

This feature is just a taster of our work. Feel free to download the report, share widely and to get in contact with the authors for more details. We have written a number of academic chapters which analyse our findings and will be published over the next few months. We are happy to share these also if you wish to read more.

Informal learning environments take place in towns and cities around Ireland and the technology industry is particularly active in organising them. We all need to identify who and what is missing in our events if we are to address the diversity challenge in our creative, cultural and technology industries. Otherwise those pipelines will have low water pressure and leak for years to come.




Our Full Report (6 MGs) –  NIP-PDFGraphics-FA




Our 3 page Roadmap – NIP-PDFGraphics-Roadmap



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

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



Dr. Aphra Kerr is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Maynooth University.

Ms Vicky Twomey-Lee is a code, tech event organiser, mentor and advocate for diversity in tech. She is currently the Maker Advocate for Dublin Maker.



With thanks to Joshua D. Savage, the SSHRC, our collaborators and participants.


Network in Play Report 2020 published

For International Women’s Day 2020 the Network in Play project in Ireland has launched the ‘Decoding and Recoding Game-Making Events for Diversity, Inclusion and Innovation’ report and roadmap.

The report and roadmap are written by Dr. Aphra Kerr (Maynooth University), Ms. Vicky Twomey-Lee (MADE, Coding Grace, PyLadies) and and Mr Joshua Savage (Maynooth University), and they summarise a four year research project exploring diversity and inclusion in the games industry and at game making events internationally and in Ireland. The documents also report on our field research at gamejams in Ireland and our experiences running creative workshops on game design.

The 3 page roadmap includes tips on developing inclusive events.

The document is published by Maynooth University and funded by the Refiguring Innovation in Games project.

The documents are free to download and share.

You can download the full manual here NIP-PDFGraphics-FA (6MBs) 

You can download the 3 page roadmap here NIP-PDFGraphics-Roadmap

A summary of the key findings will be available as a feature on gamedevelopers.ie and you can find out more about the Network in Play project on the diversity pages on this site.

For more on the international Refiguring Innovation in Digital Games please see http://www.refig.ca/ 

We welcome feedback and suggestions. Thank you to all our collaborators and participants.

Contact us – network-in-play-crafting-diversity-in-games@googlegroups.com

ShipItCon Paper Call – Failure!

ShipItCon is a not-for-profit, community driven conference about Software Delivery. Attendees come from Technology, Agriculture, Fintech, Healthcare, Gaming, Human Capital Management and the Beauty Industry.

This year’s theme is “Failure”.

What happens when you “Ship It” and instead of high fives and profit you find yourself in a downward spiral of Pager Duty calls and fire fighting? They want to hear your stories about system failures, organisational failures, how to overcome failure, the psychology of failure, burnout, building resilience etc. If you have an interesting story to tell then they would love to hear from you.

This year’s event is the 3rd ShipItCon. Last year they had 372 attendees from 150+ companies from all over the world. In 2020 the event will maintain the same format as the previous years; a one day event, hosted in the beautiful surroundings of the Round Room at Mansion House, Dublin.

Call for papers  closes at March 31, 2020 17:00 UTC

Submit your talk ideas at https://www.papercall.io/signin 

See more at https://www.papercall.io/shipitcon2020


UK Games Industry Census 2020 Diversity Findings


UKIE and Dr. Mark Taylor of the University of Sheffield in the UK have published a new Games Industry Census which gives some good insights into the employment of women and black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) people in the British games industry.

Funded via the Arts & Humanities Research Council, this independent analysis focuses on three main areas:  the kinds of work that games industry workers do, their personal characteristics, and their backgrounds.

The census was completed by over 3,200 games workers, or around 20% of the overall workforce, between September and October 2019. By using both open and targeted recruitment methods, they were able to ensure a  representative sample of people working across the sector.

Key findings of interest:

*The games sector is a young industry, with two thirds of people working in the sector aged 35 or under. But 54% of people in the industry have worked in the sector for five years or more.

*10% of people working in games are Black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME). This is a slightly higher percentage than in the national working population, and higher than both the overall creative industries and specific sectors such as music, publishing and film/TV. However, it is lower than the equivalent figure for IT and software, as well as below the average in the working-age population. While BAME workers can be found broadly equally in all job roles, with a small skew towards more non-sector specific roles, they are noticeably less represented in senior positions.

*70% of people working in the games industry are male, compared to 28% female and 2% non-binary workers. Female representation in the workforce is significantly under the national average of those in work, as well as less than in cultural and creative roles more generally, but is similar to the proportion of women working in Film/TV, and above that of the general IT/software sector.

*81% of the industry is educated to at least undergraduate level, rising to 88% for core games production roles in art or programming. This is considerably above the 57% average for the cultural and creative industries. 27% of workers hold a game-specific qualification, rising to over half of workers in games design and art roles. More commonly, workers have qualifications in STEM subjects at 31%, increasing to 60% for workers in programming roles.

*21% of people working in games are LGBTQ+, while 79% are heterosexual. This is a significantly high proportion of LGBTQ+ workers, with other data sources indicating that heterosexual people make up between 93-97% of the national population. At 2%, non-binary representation in the UK games industry workforce is higher than the national average, which is estimated at 0.4%. Trans people make up 3% of the games industry workforce, which again is above the estimated 1% within the national population.

*21% of people working in the games industry live with a chronic physical health condition. This is higher than the overall working-age population, where 13% report long term physical issues.

*31% of respondents reported that they live with anxiety, depression or both, considerably above the national average of 17%. Individuals working in junior or mid-level roles were more likely to report that they had anxiety and/or depression, with higher levels of depression also reported among Directors/CEOs of smaller companies.

*3.5% of respondents reported that they worked 51 hours per week or more. Three quarters of all respondents reported working a standard full-time working week of between 33-40 hours.

You can download the full report at https://ukie.org.uk/sites/default/files/cms/docs/UK_Games_Industry_Census_2020_FINAL_DIGITAL_0.pdf 

FutureScope 2020 (Dublin)

Animation Skillnet, Immersive Technologies Skillnet and Screen Skills Ireland, in collaboration with Animation Ireland and Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, are proud to present this exciting programme at Ireland’s #1 innovation event; Futurescope 2020.

On Wednesday 1st of April, some of the biggest names in the Irish and International industry will converge at the Convention Centre in Dublin to participate in a series of panels, demonstrations and interactive workshops.

Topics to be explored through panels and presentations on the day:

*Immersive Story-telling vs Story-finding
*Turning the Invisible Into Reality with VR
*XR in Museums: A New Awakening
*Nailing the Business of XR

Confirmed Speakers:

*Kim-Leigh Pontin, Creative Director at Nexus Studios (UK)
*Nikki Lannen, CEO at WarDucks (IRE)
*Christiane Hütter, Writer & World Builder (GER)
*Sam Wolson, Immersive Film Director (USA)
*Raphaël de Courville, Co-founder of NEEEU (GER)
*Chloé Jarry, Digital Producer at Lucid Realities (FRA)
*Agata Di Tommaso, Festival Distribution at Diversion Cinema (FRA)
*Susanna Murphy, Director of Operations at Virtual Reality Gaming
*Camille Donegan, General Manager at Virtual Reality Ireland (IRE)
…and many more to be confirmed!

Registration/Payment here:

Irish Game Based Learning Conference (Cork)

The 10th Irish Conference on Game Based Learning (iGBL), will take place in the Clayton Hotel in Cork again, on the 25th and 26th of June 2020.

Formerly the Irish Symposium on Game-Based Learning, it provides a forum for all stakeholders interested in exchanging ideas, projects, and best practice on the use of games and game-based approaches to support motivation, learning, and change.

Contributions are welcomed from a wide range of topics and may be research or practitioner-based. Researchers from all countries and backgrounds are invited to submit.

iGBL was created as a symposium and an opportunity to share ideas on how games can be used to teach, train and promote change in both formal and informal learning environments. The conference includes a mix of academic presentations, practical workshops, digital and non-digital games demos, along with plenty of opportunities to network.



Themes for the conference

The symposium will include (but is not restricted to) the following topics:

*Pedagogy, Educational and Social issues
Pedagogical/learning theories for game-based learning
Evaluation of game-based learning
Assessment in game-based learning
Integrating games into the curriculum
Games to teach arts, science, or business
Social and collaborative aspects of game-based learning
Multi-modal aspects of game-based learning (e.g. audio, augmented reality, virtual reality, etc)
Motivational aspects of game-based learning
Gender/age/cultural issues
Ethical concerns of game-based learning (e.g. young children, adolescents, etc)
Achieving sustainable impact with game-based learning

*Gamification and Serious Games
Serious games and gamification in different sectors (e.g., primary, secondary and higher education, corporate learning, training)
Gamification within the industry and at the customer interface
Organizational issues when implementing games

*Creative Issues in Game Development
Designing games for learning
Best practices in game development
Alternative controls/ interfaces for games
Technologies, tools and platforms for developing games for learning
Technologies for mobile and multi-user games for learning
Prototyping and/or playtesting
Narrative/role-playing in game-based learning
Developing characters & animations for learning games

*Virtual and Augmented Reality for Training and Learning
Designing Serious games based on AR/VR
Immersive learning experiences
Virtual Worlds for Learning
Geo-based gamified apps

*Human Computer Interaction (HCI) & Audio
User Interface and User Experience in games
User-Centered  Game-Based Learning
Designing audio games for learning and training
Audio devices and design for game-based learning
Virtual Worlds for Learning
Geo-based gamified apps
Adaptive Design

*Non-Digital Game-based  Learning
Board games for education and motivation
Trading card games to learn and teach
Simulation and draw games for education and motivation
Educational games based on physical activities

Types of Submissions

Research-based submissions may include theoretical (e.g., literature review, theoretical frameworks, or systematic reviews) and/or empirical studies employing qualitative or quantitative methods. These can consist of completed research projects or works-in-progress. There are categories also for research students, so that you can obtain feedback on your work, regardless of where you are at in the research process (e.g., research proposal, data collection, or close to completion). The idea here is to give you the chance to talk about your work or project(s). You will also have the opportunity to submit a poster. The best 7 research papers/presentations will be shortlisted to be published in the International Journal of Game-Based Learning.

Practitioner-based submissions may include presentations that describe how game-based approaches have been employed to teach, train or promote change with no specific associated research required. For example, you may have used games in your classroom or for your company, and you would like to take the opportunity to share your experience and insights with like-minded people by delivering a presentation that explains what you have applied/used and how it worked for you. The emphasis for this format is to share practical information rather than research results.

Proposals for workshops and interactive posters are also invited. Workshops would typically be practical and last between 1 and 2 hours. The idea here is to provide participants with skills that they can apply straight away in their context (e.g., at home, in the classroom or at a company). These workshops need to be related to the theme of games, learning and/or motivation.

Proposals for game demos: if you have created a game which purpose is to promote change, learning or motivation, you can submit a short abstract. Once accepted, you will be able to showcase your game at the conference and to be in for a chance to win a prize.
Submission of interest to attend the student summer school.
Submission of interest to take part in the game jam.

There will be cash prizes (€50 per presentation) for each of the following categories: best presentation overall and best game demo.

Submitting an Abstract

The earlier the abstract is submitted, the earlier you will receive your notification:

Authors who submitted their abstract(s) by 22nd January will be notified on whether their abstract has been accepted by 22nd February.
Authors who submitted their abstract(s) after 22nd February will be notified on whether their abstract has been accepted by 22nd March.

Important Dates

25th of February: Abstract submission deadline.
22nd of March: Notification of abstract acceptance.
25th March: Successful abstracts are invited to submit an extended abstract (i.e., paper to be published in the conference proceedings).
12th of April: Registration deadline for authors.
12th April: Submission of extended abstracts (i.e., research papers).
22nd April: Notification of acceptance of extended papers.

See http://www.igbl-conference.com/cfp/