Adelaide women changing the face of the billion-dollar video-game industry
Adelaide women develop mobile game tackling domestic violence, teaching family and friends how they can help
Posted March 13, 2020 07:15:57
New games being developed in Adelaide are tackling the impact of domestic violence and teaching friends and family how they can help.
- More women are studying to become game developers
- A game being developed teaches users how to help someone facing domestic violence
- A network for women in gaming is encouraging them to stay involved
Hannah: A Friend In Need is a new mobile game being made by Adelaide game developer Susannah Emery.
The game works as a chatbot that sends messages from a fictional character named Hannah that mimic those of someone living with domestic violence.
The player then responds to the messages, as the game coaches them through supportive and helpful responses.
The game simulates common messages from domestic violence victims, like delayed response times to educate players on what to expect in real-world situations.
Its name was chosen before Brisbane woman Hannah Clarke and her three children were killed last month.
It is not the first time Ms Emery has used her skills to help people in need.
She was also behind the Stronger Together video game that promoted cross-cultural learning for children in remote Indigenous communities.
Growing number of women in gaming
Game development is one of Adelaide’s growing industries, and women are working to be at the forefront of change.
It is games like Hannah that highlight the need for more women in the industry, but it is not always an easy job.
"I think women in game development definitely have their own obstacles and challenges, and we’ve faced quite a lot over the last few years, but I think the outlook is looking good and through connections and things like that we’re able to have some really good futures," she said.
Ms Emery heads up a new game design course at the University of South Australia.
Her first class has nine female students in it.
She is pleased about the growth in the number of women considering a career in game development.
"We’ve got one class at the moment of 24 students," she said.
"That’s what we wanted for the first year so we can really support them."
One of her students, Grace Frick, thinks there is room for growth in the industry.
"I’m a huge fan of gaming in general," she said.
"Women are able to bring their own experiences to the game, which is so important for the young women that are playing.
"It’s so important to have that unique perspective — not just from women, but women of colour, and women of different ethnicities, faith and sexualities."
Networks helps aspiring female developers
Ms Emery also runs a network for South Australian women in gaming.
It provides assistance, mentoring and support for women in the industry.
One of the members, Anna Bailes, is a digital artist with Adelaide-based company MonkeyStack.
She thinks women are integral to the future of gaming.
"We are around in the industry, but we’re not a dominating workforce just yet," she said.
"We are seeing groups like Girl Geek Academy that are really encouraging women to be in this space and get people talking about this to push more diversity around."
While women make up about half of all game players worldwide, there are significantly fewer female developers than men.
Female gamers are often subjected to worse abuse and trolling online, and they are underrepresented in characters and female-led storylines.
Widening the appeal of games is an essential part of reaching more women with gaming products.
Family violence support services:
This is part of what Ms Bailes does.
"I think with women it’s really important to get their input with every step of the development process," she said.
"We’re certainly asking women for their opinions as we develop the project, and we listen and we don’t talk over others.
"It brings a bit of realism to these female characters."
Gaming is projected to be a $180 billion industry by 2021.
Sports teams in the US and Australia are expanding to develop eSports teams attached to their clubs.
Legacy eSports was bought by the Adelaide Crows in 2017 in the first acquisition of its kind in Australia.
Topics: games, games-industry, games-industry-professional-gaming, domestic-violence, community-and-society, mobile-phones, women, adelaide-5000, glenside-5065, university-of-south-australia-5000, magill-5072, sa, australia
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March 13, 2020 at 07:37AM