The girliest geek you'll ever meet.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Summer Camp for Game Developers

One of the more memorable experiences I've had lately was my trip to the Game Developers Conference in March. It was like summer camp. For geeks. Cool geeks. Three days, packed with 20 classes an hour to choose from, and lots of opportunities to socially meet others in the industry.

In the sea of hundreds (thousands?), it was nice to run into my co-workers throughout the day. We didn't stick together for the classes, but it was nice to touch base with each other at lunch or dinner to see what we'd all learned, and what experiences we'd had. I felt that we had some really great, energetic, and honest conversations while we were down there. I became much closer people I don't generally get to talk to back at work.

And of course, I learned a lot from the classes. The greatest educational experiences were to be found in the roundtables. There was a kind of openness and desire to exchange experiences and find common best practices - and that openness can be very hard to find the rest of the year.

The most meaningful experience I had, though, was one I didn't expect. Not only did I not expect it, I was almost avoiding it.

I decided to attend a Women in the Gaming Industry roundtable on a whim - when I had a spare hour when no other class looked relevant to me. Before the roundtable, I have to say that I was kind of tired of the "Women in Gaming" issue. It felt tired to me, worn out. But in the roundtable, I started to hear and feel some things that were very new to me.

As the only woman on the development team in my company, I generally don't feel isolated, or even notice that I'm the only one. Hearing other women speak, though, opened my eyes to a few things that we have all shared - things that I had unconsciously attributed to my own personality and not to gender issues. I didn't come out of the session suddenly blaming everything on gender issues, but I did come out with a sense of community that I was sorely (and obliviously) lacking. After the session, I had several more opportunities at GDC to attend events with the women from the roundtable. And it was a relief. It kind of felt like home.

My main takeaway from the whole thing is that I am trying to take the realization that other women in my position, at my age, are feeling the kinds of fears and difficulties and successes that I feel, and use that to keep from feeling powerless. When certain things are difficult, I remember that someone else went through it. I try not to blame myself and feel defeated, and I feel empowered by the idea that I can do something to improve it: encourage more women to work in the gaming industry.

And they should. It's a lot of fun. :)



At 4:16 PM, Blogger Chris B said...

Man, I wish I could have gone to GDC. Maybe next year...


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