Girls Makes Games is an all-girl summer camp designed to promote women in gaming and help young girls acquire the resources and skills they need to design, program, and publish video games. In December they were invited to hold a workshop at the White House as part of the Computer Science For All initiative. This summer Sony will be joining as a sponsor, holding a three week camp at their PlayStation offices in San Mateo.
Camp attendees will learn how to create fully functional games, be able to visit local game studios, and meet industry professionals. Sony will match the girls with mentors from the women who work at PlayStation and provide scholarships to help with tuition.
The program is for middle-school and high-school aged girls, though most are between 11-14 years old. The camps offer several courses pertaining to game development:
- Game Design: gameplay models, mechanics, terminology
- Game Art: characters, backgrounds, Photoshop
- Programming: fundamentals, visual/script code, logic
The girls work in teams at the camp to design a fully functional game. The games are presented to a panel at the end of the course and the winning game is funded through Kickstarter. Some have even been greenlit on Steam.
Girls Makes Games bases their success on the ratio of teachers to students, approximately one teacher for every four students, providing incredible one-on-one learning. They also assist in applications for college and internships for camp graduates and continue mentorship beyond the camp with school projects or contests. They're determined to see that these girls have every opportunity to succeed as adults in a rapidly growing industry.
There's quite a disparity in the gaming industry. Although nearly half of gamers are women, they only make up 12% of the gaming industry. Girls Make Games is trying to change that, by working with young girls to "inspire the next generation of designers, creators, and engineers."
Girls Make Games was founded in 2014 when Laila Shabir wanted to hire a female developer for her educational video game but found it was "impossible" to find the right candidate. The gaming industry is already heavily in favor of men and what few qualified women were around were instead being recruited by larger companies like Google or Microsoft.
Shabir tweeted out the idea of getting girls into gaming via a summer camp, which quickly picked up steam. What started as an idle thought in a tweet, and intended to be a backyard workshop, soon blossomed into an international organization with camps hosted in more than 38 cities across the world.
Sony's camp is only one of 18 camps this summer. Most of this summer's camps are based in California, where Girls Make Games is located, though they also range across the US in Washington, Oregon, Texas, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Tuition varies between $400 and $1600 with financial aid available. The Sony camp is $1500 and will run July 10-28.
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