August 31, 2013 8:02 pm

Alternate Title: Fighting sexism in the industry one strong female protagonist at a time

The hanger is loud; countless computers hum and conversations drone. The sleeping are scattered throughout, chairs pushed together into an uncomfortable facsimile of a bed. After a brief and uncomfortable rest, they will resume their vigil. Across the room, someone suddenly screams “PUSH!”, startling everyone temporarily into silence. Gradually the gentle clicks of a hundred tapping keyboards resume.

I’m at the iamagamer game jam.

Inspired by a Gamasutra article and personal bias, the iamagamer game jam was conceived by Kimberly Voll as a tool to strike back against sexism in the gaming industry. They say successful games with female leads aren’t possible? Well, what better way to disprove them then by rounding up 150 game developers and making a bunch of games about leading ladies?

For 48 straight hours, we worked. Writers crafted rich worlds and back stories, artists created beautiful graphics and programmers, like me, fought tirelessly with their respective game engines, forcing them into cooperation.

(Note to self – don’t use a 3D engine for a 2D game if you don’t have to.)

Every so often (I lost track of time after being awake for the first 24 hours or so) food would be brought in, and we’d temporarily detach ourselves from our computers to eat. Occasionally people would sleep. Very frequently people made trips up to the break room for coffee, although that could have just been me.

It was an incredible experience. There was a real community vibe with people across different teams helping one another, offering code suggestions or voice acting talents, or advice on how to make Unity cooperate and just display the GUI Text already. Seeing everyone’s projects at the end was just inspiring. In such a short time, people had made all kinds of games – prison escaping, gravity distorting, baby throwing and more. And every game with compelling, strong female protagonists.

It was truly a sight to be seen.

As for my game, created with my friend Isabel, resident Unity expert Olivia, and the musical talents of Matt Creamer, well… it’s far from finished, but it’s something we’re really proud of, in spite of all its bugs and weird, Unity related issues. You can play the game, Edveriel, here.

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