Women in Games – where are you?

“There’s a generation of men, and it usually is men,” begins the BBC’s Nick Owen in his intro to this piece about a West Midlands computer games event that happened a couple of weeks ago. His co-host Suzanne Verdee does a little nod as if in agreement about the inevitably of Nick’s statement.

I was at this event and actually it wasn’t all men, it was just men doing the presenting. I wasn’t surprised by that, having been to plenty of events like this over the years and in general there being a lot of men talking about the business of games. In fact the agenda for this event was meant to include Jude Ower of Digital 2.0.

Had she been able to make it I wonder if the BBC would have spun the story any differently? Or is entrepreneurship in the games industry so heavily situated as a male activity (“bedroom to boardroom” as Nick puts it in what might pass for a clever dig at the sexual politics of business but probably isn’t) that it’s a story that ‘writes itself’. A discourse so dominant that the media, particularly local media who never shy away from the chance to reinforce glib stereotypes, feel compelled to portray it that way.

The audience for that day actually had lots of women in it. Two were students of mine. One, a first year undergraduate animator having an initial stab at some business networking and the other one of my MA Social Media students. Vox-pops with them might have diluted the macho flavour of the final report. Indeed just some cutaways of the mixed audience would have been an idea.

It’s worth taking time to read Lorna Parson’s view on women-only networking events for her sector (construction/built environment). After attending an event she concludes: “why bother segregating?” but in the comments there’s a view amongst some that “we need organisations out there to promote and campaign for a better female presence.” Such an organisation in the Games sector might well have presented other case studies for the BBC to look at when they came to cover this event. I suspect Nick Owen might have had even more fun coming up with a lame intro gag.

It’s no redress to the Beeb’s take but here’s a video of Jude Ower talking about what she does. Any more female games entrepreneurs out there?

[Jude Ower, Digital 2.0 from Mr Nat Higginbottom on Vimeo.]

Additional Reading:
Alice Taylor’s response to the all-male Game Developer 50 list
Women in Games network (“Give a voice to women and men in the games industry and in games education with interests in supporting and encouraging the role of women in the games industry”)
Special Edition of the Digital Creativity Journal focusing on Women in Games.
Media Training North West research (from 2004) asking ‘Why are there so few women in Games?‘ (PDF)
Birmingham Science Park (location of the above event) showcases some new games start-ups.

Digital jobs up north – get one now

At my workplace, Birmingham City University, we had a very illuminating talk to students last week from John Denton who is Managing Editor, TV Platforms, BBC Future Media and Technology. He sometimes contributes to the BBC Internet blog.

The talk is below and a lot of it was about the integration or otherwise of social media platforms into TV viewing. There’s still a core belief in scheduling though – “the power of the schedule should drive what’s on all devices”.

Appended to John’s presentation is one from his colleague Andrew Bowden who is the ‘Product manager’ for the iPlayer.

At the end of these two presentations came a plug for the BBC’s planned move to Salford next year. BBC Future Media and Technology are making the move as well as other departments and John made it clear that there were opportunities for the people in the room. In fact he cited a potential 70+ new roles being created in his area. ‘Come to Salford‘, was the message – the students salivated, my heart sank a little.

Ah well, maybe we just lobbied the wrong broadcaster in the hope of creating digital jobs here in the West Midlands. Or perhaps we’ve got 70+ new roles ourselves but they’re not in a single institution.

The talk came courtesy of the BSEEN enterprise programme.

BBC John Denton

Links for November 18th

Some links for you:

Links for November 2nd through November 12th

Some links for you:

  • Dave Harte: No help from the coalition – Business Columnists – Birmingham Post – Piece I wrote for the Birmingham Post this week on the government plans for a Silicon Valley in the East End.
  • elearnspace › Questions I’m no Longer Asking – "I strive to strike a reasonable balance between reading blogs, books, and peer-reviewed articles. Different topics flair up in popularity (such as web 2.0 and now social media) and then fade. A few concepts have longevity such as “how effective is technology enhanced learning when contrasted with traditional classrooms?”. Questions like this are boring. And unanswerable given the tremendous number of variables involved in teaching online and in classrooms."
  • DCMS Blog: A short history of the One-Armed Bandit – Articulating the mechanics of gambling as having a "place in popular heritage" – associates it with the seaside yet ignores the realities of grim high street slot machine arcades. DCMS seem to blogging a lot lately but first time I've noticed it done this way when announcing policy or consultation work.

Some hyperlocal blogging joy

The local news website (or ‘hyperlocal blog’ as we call it nowadays) that I edit has given me some joy this week. Firstly a comment came in that I thought summed up some nice community spirit; and secondly we got a story on the front page of the local newspaper, the Birmingham Mail.

The front cover thing first: so I saw a train come through Bournville station on Thursday November 4th at about 1.20pm. I realise what it is (I just know, okay, I have that kind of knowledge in me) and quickly grab a pic of it on the iPhone. I tweet it, as one would, but there’s not any kind of earth-shattering reaction in that rarefied world of twitter so I don’t think too much of it.

But over the weekend it’s apparent that a story about a nuclear train is timely. And timeliness is something my old journalism lecturer taught me was important in deciding if something is newsworthy.

So I blog the story on the Sunday, knowing that on Monday the mail trawl the local blogs for their communities pages on Tuesday. They’ll go big on this one, I think, presuming they’ll give it a couple of paragraphs. However, before I know it there’s a photographer taking ‘grumpy of Bournville‘ pictures and the following day we’re front page, continued on page three and in the communities pull-out as well.

Nice result and site traffic quadrupled.

That coment: given we don’t get a lot of comments on the blog I was most pleased to get one that summed up a bit of the community spirit I think Bournville possesses. This was in relation to the protest against a phone mast:


Well done to all who protested i was so proud for me and my children and for all the young people and children I work for as a youth and playworker in the Northfield area. And a very big thank you to MP Steve McCabe for all his hard work and for listening to the local people and their children well done. Well done also to the Birmingham mail for a great picture of all the families. Andrew Cartwright.

Yeah sure, the mast protest may well come across as a bit of nimbyism but people protesting in the street against an unwanted intervention by a multi-national corporation – that sounds exactly the sort of thing we should be celebrating.

Links for October 18th through November 1st

Some links for you: