stephenloosley at zoho.com
Sun Jan 25 22:31:14 AEDT 2015
Date: January 25, 2015
By Hannah Francis, Technology Reporter
In school, Rachael Vella excelled at her IT classes and wanted to go into programming, just like her dad. But back then, the message she received at her all-girls school was, "girls don't code".
Now 23 and a third-year student in video game design at RMIT, she's one of a record number of women attending the Global Game Jam in Melbourne: 48 hours of brainstorming, designing, coding, caffeine, sugary snacks and sleeping on hard floors.
Now in its fifth year, it's also the biggest Melbourne jam yet, with 200-odd coders, designers, artists and more converging at Swinburne University's Hawthorn campus to make a game in a weekend
Twenty-five per cent of participants this year are women.
Last year, that figure was 18 per cent; in previous years, more like 10 per cent.
Organiser Giselle Rosman, from the Melbourne chapter of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), says it all began with the decision to introduce a "wage gap discount" for women this year, amounting to 17 per cent off the $88 registration fee - equivalent to the gender disparity in average wages in Australia.
But then one male gamer volunteered to cover the costs of three tickets for women. The kind deeds multiplied, with individuals sponsoring 10 per cent of places in the end.
"It's a beautiful community when everyone gets their act together," Ms Rosman says.
The association says women make up about 12 per cent of the Australian games industry.
The skills and connections gained at industry events like game marathons can give budding game designers a crucial edge.
During a pre-jam get together, Rachael met her teammates Matt Clark and Luke Kellett - both professional game developers who run their own studios, The Voxel Agents and Ruma Studios, respectively.
And Samurai Punk, a team from last year's jam, received such great feedback for their entry Screencheat they decided to form a company. They developed the game further and took it to Seattle's PAX Prime exhibition, as well as PAX Australia in Melbourne. It received much critical acclaim and will now pay for the company to make another game, according to creator Nick McDonnell.
As the weekend wraps up, jammers must upload their finished game by 4pm on Sunday in their respective timezone.
Readers can download and play the games created at the Melbourne jam, as well as from participants all around the world, at the official Global Game Jam website: http://globalgamejam.org
Rachael Vella, Clark and Kellett's game, Waiting Room, is here: http://globalgamejam.org/2015/games/waiting-room
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