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The Difference Engine Initiative Aims To Increase Diversity In The Gaming Industry

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Back in 2009, the Artsy Games Incubator ran a program in Toronto designed to get artists who love games making games. It produced a pile of fun, little addictive games. Some of them are delightful throwbacks to the 16-bit era, others more closely resemble the confections you'd find on Newgrounds, while others just defy description - which I guess is to be expected with names like Baby Runs This Mofo (in which you play a baby trying to get cuddles and hugs).

Now, the people behind that project are back with the Difference Engine Initiative, which intends to encourage diversity among game developers by targeting groups that are often under-represented in the industry. This round, named after the original programmer herself, Ada Lovelace, is aimed at women (so take note, all our female readers) and aims to provide a mentorship-style program, providing participants with access to the tools they need and people who can help them advance their skills. The deadline for the next session is pretty close - July 31st - but there will be another round later in the year. Further, a great interview with Initiative co-founder Mare Sheppard in the Torontoist makes it clear that women are one of many groups they would like to encourage to make waves in the gaming industry. From the interview:

"What about age? What about race? What about all these other groups that you don't see in game development?" asks Sheppard. "More diversity means better games, a better environment for game developers and game designers, and ultimately leads to the viewpoints of more people being represented in games and more games being made for different kinds of people. I think it'll make our industry a lot cooler."

Ladies out there interested in applying (you'll want to be within easy travelling distance of Toronto) can do so here.

7 Comments

I'm going to be perfectly honest and say that I hate these kinds of reverse-'ism programs. Because I'm a white male, I don't get any kind of special programs for me. I have to put myself through personal training using books when I'm not at my 40 hour a week job to try and figure this all out, while somebody else who is no less or more qualified than me, gets a sweet program to help them out, simply because they are deemed 'different,' which only furthers the stereotype that white men are somehow better than everybody else.

seraph said:

Short version, Randy, is that they're not getting a leg up for being 'different' - they're being helped by private organizations like this one for their long-term social handicap of not being born a white male.

If you've never realized how much easier you have it than most, then, well, that's one of the ways you have it easier.

Wah said:

@Randy,

http://youtu.be/TG4f9zR5yzY

Louis CK: "I'm not saying that white people are better, I'm saying that being white is clearly better."

Then what this tells me is that we should be working harder on social reform, rather then trying to further the idea that there's a handicap for having a vagina. I'm not saying white men don't have it easier, I'm saying that a white man shouldn't be turned down for help just because he is a white man. It's reverse racism. Just like turning down somebody for a less qualified applicant, just because the less qualified applicant fills some government issued "help people who aren't white" requirement. None of this is helping to solve the actual problems.

Quest said:

@ Randy, I think you completely missed the boat like many do regarding similar issues of this nature. No one had stated that this program is assisting lesser qualified individuals by any means. I think the purpose for programs such as these give a opportunity for the individuals who are just as qualified or in some cases even more qualified a seat at the table in this industry, whom otherwise would not get that chance.

This means women, people of color, gays ect.. whom has put themselves through personal training and working 40 hour a week jobs just like yourself who are normally shut out by default & other stereotypes for not being a white male can (which you cannot argue has had discriminating taste for some time now. Like any other venue the gaming industry needs to evolve and programs such as these can help include more stories, update different technologies, that everyone who appreciates this industry can enjoy together.

JTSpender said:

@Randy

As a guy who until very recently was in the software industry (though not in games), I can testify that:

a) It's still really shitty for women in many parts of the software industry.

b) It's still way easier to get help if you're a guy than if you're a woman.

c) There *is* a handicap for having a vagina, because a large number of male programmers turn into assholes, blathering idiots, and/or creepers when they see something with a vagina.

I suspect that things are reasonably similar in the game industry.

Kenny said:

From the Hand Eye Society Frontpage:

"Participants will attend a 3 hour session once a week for six weeks.

These sessions will provide participants with:

experience with several point-and-click gamemaking tools that do not require programming;

feedback and support on their gamemaking process from experienced gamemakers;

a peer-mentorship atmosphere that has more in common with crafting circles or writers’ groups than a traditional classroom setting;

snacks, drinks and good times."

This sounds more like a summer camp than affirmative action. If anything, it's just exposing them to some very basic principles in hopes of sparking some interest where clearly there isn't much.

Maybe kinda sexist though... Is Space Camp boys only?

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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Kenny on The Difference Engine Initiative Aims To Increase Diversity In The Gaming Industry: From the Hand Eye Society Frontpage: "Participants will attend a 3 hour session once a week for six weeks. These...

JTSpender on The Difference Engine Initiative Aims To Increase Diversity In The Gaming Industry: @Randy As a guy who until very recently was in the software industry (though not in games), I can testify...

Quest on The Difference Engine Initiative Aims To Increase Diversity In The Gaming Industry: @ Randy, I think you completely missed the boat like many do regarding similar issues of this nature. No one...

Randy "Dr Randle" Marr on The Difference Engine Initiative Aims To Increase Diversity In The Gaming Industry: Then what this tells me is that we should be working harder on social reform, rather then trying to further...

Wah on The Difference Engine Initiative Aims To Increase Diversity In The Gaming Industry: @Randy, http://youtu.be/TG4f9zR5yzY Louis CK: "I'm not saying that white people are better, I'm saying that being white is clearly better."...

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