Over the second half of 2015, I was a member of the Executive Committee for the Global Game Jam. In January, I ran the Global Game Game 2016 Twitch stream, featuring a continuous 36-hour livestream of GGJ sites all across the world. I also hosted the first public GGJ site in Brighton, at the Skiff coworking space, where we all made some awesome games!
I also worked with local developers Kerry Turner and Leanne Bayley to run a 5-week beginner Unity course for women called Make Play Code, teaching attendees how to make a first-person exploration game.
I hosted a surprise 70th birthday party for my mum, and made her an awesome allotment cake complete with tiny vegetables (with help from Chris and Julia!) : )
I jetted off to GDC to meet the Global Game Jam executive team and help host a roundtable feedback session for the event. The area I focused on was how to make game jams more welcoming and more diverse.
When I got back to the UK, I hosted Pixels and Prosecco, an event celebrating women’s contributions and work in the games industry. Tickets sold out, the audience heard talks from five women working in games, and everybody enjoyed a lot of cake and prosecco! The event was part of Brighton’s Spring Forward Festival, which celebrates women in digital culture, and also took place during Women’s History Month. As a result of the event’s success, I was interviewed for the Brighton Business show.
I also took part in 300 Seconds, an event which coaches and supports women towards more public speaking. I gave a talk about the diverse variety of the video games that I love, how creating games can serve as tools for creative expression, and the kinds of tools that can be used to make them.
April was a busy month! Working alongside Matherson Marcult, I helped curate, produce and run Now Play This, a three-day exhibition at Somerset House as part of London Games Week. Now Play This is a festival of experimental game design, showcasing some of the most interesting games and playful work being made around the world.
After Now Play This I flew out to Berlin to speak on a panel about curating video game events and exhibitions as part of the AMAZE festival in Berlin. It was really exciting to represent a grassroots approach to event curation, and to speak alongside so many inspiring curators! You can watch the panel here.
I’m a member of the board for GameCamp, an annual one-day celebration and discussion of all aspects of gaming, held in central London. This year I volunteered to run the board games library. Notably, I also gave a talk alongside Kerry Turner, where we discussed the Brighton indie game development scene, and talked about how to run friendly community game events.
Throughout the month I worked again with Kerry and Leanne to run another 5-week Make Play Code beginner Unity course for women.
I was commissioned to curate and host a two-day arcade for the Lighthouse, as part of their regular Progress Bar event. The games I selected for the evening combine striking visuals, colourful imagery and intuitive controls, to help bring together the diverse audience of the event. For daytime attendees, I chose games that are slightly longer form, to give the event a more relaxed feel and create space for attendees to take their time and reflect on what they had played.
I helped coordinate the ReFig Women In Games drinks, running as a side event to the Develop conference. The event hosted talks from Robin Hunicke and Noah Falstein. During Develop, I also helped manage the Game Jam.
Off the back of my 300 Seconds talk in March, I was invited to give the talk again at the Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield, as part of their Changemakers program. I gave a slightly modified version of my talk, with more focus on family-friendly games and playful installation pieces.
photo from Sally Trowbridge on Twitter
I helped set up and steward at the V&A Late Pushing Buttons, and looked after some of the games on display curated by Wild Rumpus.
I delivered an elevator pitch about making games and creativity at Reasons to be Creative, a large established conference on digital creativity. I didn’t win a full length slot to come back the next year, but Jared Tarbel told me that my pitch was his favourite! <3
I also ran the third Pop up Arcade, supported by Unity and Brighton Digital Festival. Pop up Arcade was hosted at the Synergy Arts Centre, and was bigger and better before, featuring over 15 indie games and installations – including a Vive VR, which the kids (and parents!) loved. We had a big launch party on the Friday night, and a free family-friendly open arcade over the weekend. With over 300 visitors across the weekend, the event was a huge success.
Photo thanks to Vasil Dzhagalov and Brighton Digital Festival.
I hosted the XX+ Game Jam with Brighton University. This was a 24 hour game jam for women, as part of a wider study into women working with and creating games.
As part of the Make Play Code Saturday Social event, I did a mini re-run of my Twitterbot making workshop from the Art of Bots festival, and encouraged people to create something with Cheap Bots Done Quick.
I was bridesmaid and witness for my good friend Sarah, for her lovely wedding.
I also attended the wonderful Games are For Everyone event in Edinburgh by We Throw Switches, which was hugely inspiring. I got to meet and chat with the organisers, and it was a good excuse to go and visit my pals Alice and Cara too.
On invitation from Jim Munroe from the Hand Eye Society in Toronto, I directed the WordPlay festival, which I arranged to be held at the British Library. The festival hosted a curated selection of writerly games, from a submission of over 120 games. We also hosted talks and panels from international speakers working in game development and interactive fiction.
I went to the Unity Christmas party and observed dancing dads in their natural environment.
Thinking about 2017…
After Pop up Arcade, I started discussions around turning Press Fire to Win into a community interest company or similar to get some more support financially and organisationally. I am looking to drive this forward this year.
Last but not least…
Despite all of the things I achieved in 2016, I sometimes still have major doubts about being able to run these events, even when faced with a wall of evidence to the contrary. I could not have achieved what I did last year, and grown in confidence to the extent that I have, without the continued support of my partner Tom, my employer Matchbox for their flexibility and understanding, and all of my volunteers, supporters and people who have told me that my events have inspired them to make and create. Special mentions to Siobhan, Sarah and Becky for being super good and helpful pals this year. <3