FEMINISM IN THE GAMES INDUSTRY: THE IMPORTANCE OF ASKING ‘WHY?’

*Disclaimer: This article may contain more questions than answers.*

Contents:

Prologue & Introduction

Interview: Brenda Bailey Gerschkovitch (Silicon Sisters, CEO)

Interview: Kirsten Forbes (Silicon Sisters, COO)

Interview: Mathew Kumar (MK Ultra, CEO and Creative Director)

Conclusion

FeminismNickIllustration

Illustration by: Nicholas Gilbert

PROLOGUE: Why should we care about feminism?

The following is a recent conversation I had with a fellow Vancouver Film School student, Michelangelo Pereira Huezo.

Michelangelo: “You’re really interested in feminism, right?”

Jaymee: “Yeah, I am.”

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Hat Jam 3 – The Temptation of Antonio the Vampire [Post-Mortem]

Hat Jam is a game jam that runs at VFS (Vancouver Film School) once a term and is organized by fellow students Anna Prein and Michelangelo Pereira Huezo.

Teams of 3 had less than 48 hours to design and make a game from scratch, based on a painting that was randomly given to them.

You can read Anna’s write up of the jam on the VFS arcade and play games made by other teams HERE.

I entered with two of my classmates, Danilo Reyes and Guerric Haché, winning best story.

Picture taken from here: Danilo, myself and Guerric, with a screenshot of our game.

This post is about the process behind the game we made, ‘The Temptation of Antonio the Vampire’, which can be played by clicking HERE.

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L.A. Noire: Game Analysis and Suggested Improvements

Introduction to L.A. Noire

L.A. Noire (2011) was developed over a period of seven years by the now defunct Team Bondi in conjunction with Rockstar Games. It is predominantly an action-adventure game with third-person shooter and open-world sandbox driving elements. Thematically, it draws heavily upon the neo-noir detective thriller genre.  However L.A. Noire’s emphasis on story, light gameplay and mix of various game genres is the source of its polarized reviews. The game appears to cater to the needs of traditional adventure game fans, which leaves players expecting more hardcore action-based gameplay disappointed. This analysis will observe how the strengths and weaknesses of L.A. Noire’s design hinges on whether the player belongs to either faction – as well as the aspects that shine or fail regardless of player preference.

Having shipped almost 5 million copies, L.A. Noire qualifies as a commercial success[1]. The game has also done well critically, however the difference between critic and user aggregated scores on Metacritic are of note. The 6% different between the PC and console versions can be attributed to the collapse of Team Bondi prior to the PC release, resulting in Rockstar Leeds taking over production.

  Xbox 360[2] Playstation 3[3] PC[4]
Critic 89% 89% 83%
User 77% 74% 77%

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Game Design Campus Sneak Peek!

Helloooo! This is a great time.

Regularly, we do not allow any strangers to come into our campus.

However, today I am going to take you on a tour!

Come on! Let’s go in!

First of all, to get into the building, we have to pass this double security door. It needs a VFS key card and password.

In order to access each area in the school, it requires keycards at almost every door!

(Sometimes, when I go off the campus to buy some food, I forget my keycard.
Then, I cannot get back into the building. LOL That was a great lesson for me.)

Anyway, Let’s start at the 3rd floor!

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GD34 Board Game Presentations

For those of you who read my previous blog post, you may have been wondering why we devoted 3 hours each week to playing board games in class.

For these babies:

They might not look like much in their boxes, but they are the result of hours of work by individuals and partners, slaving over rule sets and playtesting sessions to create kick ass board games for our Game Theory Analog class.

The requirements were simple (not really):

  1. Interesting or unique concept.
  2. Core mechanics that match the theme.
  3. Game mechanics that lead to fun and interesting decisions for the target audience.
  4. Play-test documentation
  5. Clear, easy to understand and logical rules – with game play examples and images.
  6. Boxed game with neatly stored components and functional artwork.
  7. In-Class Presentation of the goal and core mechanisms of the game, as well as the evolution of the game from conception through to final prototype.
  8. BONUS POINTS for anything that exceeded expectations.

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A 5 minute walk around the game design campus

Hi, my name is Nicha. I am from Thailand. I have been studying at VFS for a couple months now.

The Game Design Campus is located in the heart of Chinatown, just East of downtown Vancouver. I really like where our game design campus is, because it is so convenient! Today, I will show you a few convenient places near our 88 East Pender campus. It takes no more than 5 minutes on foot.

Let’s Go!

Only 1/2 block away to the east

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Minimalism and Curiosity in A Dark Room

A Dark Room came to me right after last month’s Full Indie, where I discussed with a few people about why I don’t play many text games. As an artist, I am deeply invested in visuals and find it difficult to get into games with poor graphic styles or games that are text-only — not to mention that despite being an average writer myself, I’m harsh on other people’s writing. Well, that was silly. It seems like I was playing all the wrong text games.

The only visuals you’ll find in A Dark Room are very minimal ASCII, in what I assume is a later part of the game. Or is it only the beginning? The appeal of this game lies very much in how much it doesn’t tell you.

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VFS life: Game Theory Practical (A.K.A. play-board-games-class)

Warning: this blog post contains very little educational content.

A little introduction: I am an Australian-Malaysian-Macanese singing-acting-dancing-book-loving-raging-feminist who is a moody optimist. I like cats. Cool. Done. Let’s move on. SCHOOL.

Here’s my summary of student life thus far:

  • Average of 6 hours of class a day, with a minimum of 3 and maximum of 9
  • We get around 2-5 assignments per week
  • Everybody in my class is a crazy kid with a huge variety of game ideas
  • You put in a butt-load of work, you get out a butt-load of work to fuel your launch into the industry

In this post, I’m going to chronicle one of my favourite classes thus far: Game Theory Practical. Schmancy name for ‘Play board games for 3 hours and discuss what you liked and didn’t like about them’.

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A Porpoise for Games

I moved to Vancouver back in April to prepare for a long year at VFS. Since I had 3 weeks before my classes would start, I used some of the time to visit the the Vancouver Aquarium. While there I’d frequently come across a particularly playful harbour porpoise in the underwater exhibit. He’d flap his flippers and stare expectantly at the opposite side of the glass trying to interact. Alas, each time he would eventually get bored of my silly faces and swim off.

Wait a second… If I was serious about being a game designer, then shouldn’t I be able to make a fun game for a porpoise?

Absolutely! Here is the process of this somewhat unusual game project that was conducted in April, and the unexpected outcome that made it all worthwhile.

STEP 1: IDENTIFY YOUR AUDIENCE

The target of my project is Jack, a harbour porpoise who was stranded in Horseshoe Bay on September 16th, 2011. He was only 4 weeks old when he was transported to the Marine Mammal Research Centre, weighing 12-kilogram. His skin and muscles were so severely damaged, that he required a sling made of pool noodles to help him swim, as well as 24 hour volunteer care around the clock. He was later deemed non-releasable by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, so was introduced to Daisy at the Aquarium where both are ambassadors for their species. Read More

Meet Women in Games Scholarship winners Jaymee Mak and Nicha Jaijadesuk

A couple of weeks ago, our latest winners of the Women in Games Scholarship winners started the Game Design program at VFS.  We asked Jaymee Mak and Nicha Jaijadesuk to sit down with each other and introduce themselves to our GD community, here’s the result…

Jaymee: Hello, Nicha.

Nicha: Hi, Jaymee! How are you?

J: Goooood.

N: Is this the first time you have studied overseas?

J: Yeah, but when I was in Australia I traveled interstate for university.

N: Oh That’s great, for me this is the first time. I have never been in an international environment like this before.

J: So, haven’t you travel oversea before?

N: Nope, I used to travel overseas but it’s just for travel.

J: So, what do you think about it?

N: It is very exciting. There are new environments, new friends, new culture, new food. I love it! Just some problem for a non-native English speaker like me, the first week of studies was a tough time for me, I think my English still needs to be improved. Sometimes I cannot catch my friends’ words, and I have to ask them to repeat it again.
(Sorry guys.) Anyway, this week, I feel I am getting better and better now!

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