Game Girl Workshop is a part of this mission. It is an initiative and an NGO that I co-run next to my job as a User Experience Researcher at Unity. In July this year, we ran a Game Girl Workshop in Malmö with four girls in the ages of 8 - 11 years. This was the first time we ran a workshop with a younger group of girls, and as always, it was super inspiring and insightful.
What I enjoy most about Game Girl Workshop is the process and development that the girls go through. All the girls are introduced to the disciplines of game programming in Unity, game design, graphic design, music and sound design. In the first couple of days, they all get to do hands-on exercises in Unity and build a level. The reason we do this is to make them understand how to build up an interactive game world.
The next step for the girls is to come up with a story that they can turn into a game. In Game Girl Workshop, we do not work with game templates, such as a platformer, puzzle, maze, or shooter game templates. We focus on the stories that the girls come up with themselves and guide them in turning their ideas into game mechanics. Sometimes the girls end up with a game that is partly an interactive story and partly game mechanics. That is totally OK. The aim is not to make a perfect game. It is about exploring the computer game medium and express their own stories through storytelling, sound and graphic art. A big part of participating in a Game Girl Workshop is also about collaboration. Just like in the real world - the girls learn to collaborate and build a prototype of their own ideas that they can show off to the world.
At the workshop in July, the girls came up with a game about Gustav Vasa - a Swedish king that ruled Sweden from 1523 - 1560. The game starts with the baby Gustav who has to navigate through the level in a 2D sideways scroller game, eat food so he can grow and avoid the spiky enemies at the same time. If he succeeds, he will grow a beard and sail his ship. If he fails to pick up all the food or if he walks into too many enemies, he will end up with a sinking ship. Download and play the game! Mac version can be downloaded here and Windows version can be downloaded from here.
How to play the game:
Click on “Start” to start the game. Use Left and Right arrows on your keyboard to navigate the player character. To jump, press Space.
“It would be really fun if we could continue working on our game the next couple of weeks! Then we could build the whole game!”
-Laura, 10 years old
“If more people knew about this, I think quite a lot of people would sign up. It was more fun than going to the cinema!”
-Nea, 10 years old
Video interview with Laura and Nea: