Women and girls make up nearly half of all video gamers, but only about 12% of the video game industry. To help address this gender gap, indie game studio LearnDistrict is hosting a series of game dev summer camps specifically targeted at girls: Girls Make Games. The first one will be in the Bay Area next month, with additional workshops and mini camps coming to LA, San Diego, Boston, Seattle, Denver, DC, Melbourne (Australia), and Dubai.
Even if you’re not in one of these areas or you don’t have girls to send to the camps, it’s worth checking this out if you support the idea of girls learning to make games. Donations to Girls Make Games will help LearnDistrict get the program off the ground and provide scholarships to girls who can’t afford the tuition.
A couple of highlights: game industry artists will help create music and art for the girls’ games. Microsoft is planning to create a mini-documentary about the camp. Google Play will feature the finished games for download. The final projects will be judged by industry professionals (including Double Fine’s Tim Schafer, Tracy Fullerton of the Game Innovation Lab, and Google Play’s Shazia Makhdumi). The winning prototype will be developed into a full game by LearnDistrict.
The camp is three week-long sessions (from June 16 to July 11) and you can register for one, two, or three weeks. The curriculum is flexible, and with a 5:1 student-to-teacher ratio, every kid will get to develop a full game, but attending for a single week will miss some of the non-academic activities (like a field trip to Double Fine!) so LearnDistrict recommends at least two weeks if possible. The deadline to register is Sunday, June 8.
I first met Laila Shabir of LearnDistrict at PAX Prime last year, when she was promoting a Kickstarter campaign for Penguemic, a game that teaches SAT-level vocabulary. We had a nice conversation about games, education, and gamification. I’m excited that Shabir and LearnDistrict are providing a place where girls can get hands-on experience developing games, and it’ll be fun to see the projects that come out of the camp. Shabir told me, “We’d love to hear from parents/teachers/students who want us to come to their city.” So if you love the idea but aren’t in the Bay Area or one of the other locations mentioned, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the camp or to reserve a spot for the Bay Area camp, head over to Girls Make Games! (The website will be updated in the coming weeks for other locations.)