Wednesday: Women in Games

A discussion of the significance of women and girls in the consumption and creation of games, intended specifically to spark women and girls into actively making games. The game industry is highly aware that women now buy about as many games as men, and academics confirm that women are as likely to be interested in STEM fields as men; but we know that a statistically insignificant portion of the developer community is female, so our goal in this day of activities is to facilitate their active participation.
The East Coast is rich in expertise in this area of exploration at the university level, and Pennsylvania entities, including CMU and Penn, are among the leaders in evaluating participation by women in game development.  Girl Develop It Philly and Girl Geek Dinners are collaborating on these events. This track will take place at the First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut Street Philadelphia, PA 19103



10:00AM KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Heidi McDonald

HeidiMcDonald Picture

Heidi McDonald is the Women in Gaming Rising Star Award Recipient for 2012. Specializing in Narrative Design and interested in the area of NPC romance in single-player RPGs, McDonald invented the ICING Model to help narrative designers write more satisfying NPC Romances. Her work has been published in Well Played and lectured about at Feminists in Games 2012, GDC Online 2012, the Gotland Gaming Conference in Visby, Sweden, and GDC in March 2013 where her poster session, “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Ferelden,” explored survey data about how and why men and women romance in single-player RPGs. Her titles include the Award-winning PlayForward:Elm City Stories, a game to teach HIV prevention to at-risk youth; Tunnel Tail, a drug prevention game; Lionel Battle Train; and the upcoming literacy game, The World of Lexica, which was recently featured at Games for Change 2013. Excited by the opportunity to work on transformational games both at work and independently, McDonald is on the board of the Pittsburgh Chapter of IGDA, a Game Designer at Schell Games in Pittsburgh, PA and a single mother of three who ended up in video games in 2011 after a successful mid-life career switch.

11:00AM PANEL: How do girls play differently? (academic panel)


Gabriela T. Richard is a Postdoctoral Fellow for Academic Diversity at the University of Pennsylvania in the Graduate School of Education. Her research focuses on understanding the intersections between culture, experience, media and learning. Her dissertation work centered on gender and ethnic experiences with games to help inform the design of equitable educational games and learning environments. Her research speaks more broadly to issues important to media designed for formal and informal education, specifically focusing on how to design educational media and technology that is overall inclusive and sensitive to how designed social realities can disproportionately affect identification and achievement (particularly for underserved groups).

She has received funding from the National Science Foundation and the American Association of University Women in support of her research. She has a master’s degree in interactive and embodied design, and an undergraduate degree in media, culture and communication. She is receiving her doctorate from the Educational Communication and Technology program at New York University in Fall 2013.

Sarah SchoemannSchoemann_Bio_Pic

A researcher and game designer based in NYC and Atlanta, Schoemann is the creator of Different Games a conference and National Endowment for the Arts funded game design fellowship program focused on fostering diversity and inclusiveness in games. Schoemann’s research and organizing interests lie in social justice issues related to technology, in particular the representation of marginalized identities in games and the accessibility of games and technology to women and underserved populations.

Formerly a Graduate Assistant to the NYU Poly Game Innovation Lab Under the Direction of Dr. Katherine Isbister and an adjunct lecturer at CUNY Hunter and Queens College where she taught Game Studies and Game Design, Schoemann received her BFA from The School of Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University in 2006 and her MS in Digital Media from NYU Polytech in 2013. Her professional background is in educational technology where she has designed and lead tech-based curricula for hundreds of K-12 students and educators since 2008. In fall 2013 she joined the doctoral program in Digital Media within Georgia Institute of Technology’s College of Literature Culture and Communication as a Presidential Fellow. She is currently a member of the Emergent Game Group under the advisement of Dr. Celia Pearce where she is continuing her work on Different Games.

Laine NooneyLaineNooney

Laine Nooney is a media archaeologist and cultural historian of computers and video games. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Stony Brook University in the Department of Cultural Analysis and Theory. Her dissertation, “Before We Were Gamers: An Archaeology of Video Game History” focuses on the history of Sierra On-Line and its female co-founder and lead designer, Roberta Williams. She is the Editorial Assistant to the Journal of Visual Culture, Assistant to the William A. Higinbotham Game Studies Collection, and recently assisted producing a documentary on the early analog computer game, Tennis for Two. She was also co-organizer of the first Different Games Conference. Laine has lectured internationally on women in game history, and has shared her research with NPR’s Marketplace, KillScreen, and NYU’s Game Center.

Adrienne ShawShaw_portrait-edit (original)

Adrienne Shaw received her PhD from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the Temple faculty she held postdoctoral posts at the Mudra Institute for Communication Ahmedabad, the University of Pittsburgh, and Colorado State University. Her research and teaching focus on popular culture, the politics of representation, technology, cultural production and qualitative audience research. Her primary areas of interest are video games, gaming culture, and gender and sexuality studies. In addition to authoring several book chapters, her research has been published in Ada, New Media and Society, Critical Studies in Media and Communication, Games and Culture,among others. Her forthcoming book is tentatively titled Playing at the Edge: Gender, race, and sexuality in video games.

12:30PM Lunch Break

2:00PM PANEL: Discussion of Games that Women are Making (developer panel)

Prasanna Krishnanprasanna

Prasanna is Co-Founder of SmartyPAL. SmartyPAL works with early childhood development experts to build personalized and adaptive mobile apps to help kids learn, and recently launched the iPad app “ZooPAL-A Gift”. Before SmartyPAL, Prasanna was General Manager at Jetsetter, where she started a new travel planning service. She was a venture capitalist & Kauffman Fellow at Draper Fisher Jurvetson where she invested in early-stage technology companies, with a focus on education & cloud computing. Prasanna has held product and business development roles at Microsoft and Comcast respectively. She also worked at McKinsey & Company, Internet Capital Group and Novell Software Development Ltd in India.   Prasanna received an MBA from Wharton where she graduated as a Palmer Scholar. She also has a Masters in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she was a Siebel Scholar & a Bachelors in Computer Science from BITS, Pilani, India where she was Salutatorian and received the BITS Merit Fellowship.

Heidi Mcdonald

Nicole KlineNicoleKline

Nicole Kline is a writer and game developer in Philadelphia. She’s the Senior Editor at Warp Zoned, a contributing writer at Geekadelphia and Perpetual Geek Machine, and an occasional podcaster for No Avatars Allowed and Perpetual Geek Machine. She is also the co-founder and co-organizer for GameLoop Philly and Girl Geek Dinners Philadelphia. She wrote the story for Monsters! by Quadtratron Games and is in the process of several other projects, including working on a game jam-winning card game named Resistor. She has a full-time job at Drexel University, where she is currently working towards a degree in Library and Information Sciences.

Sarah Schoemann

3:30PM PResentation: A new mentoring program for HS girls making games in Philadelphia. Michelle Martin

4:00PM PANEL: What are games missing, when women are missing? (ACADEMIC AND DEVELOPER PANEL)

Yasmin KafaiYasmin

Yasmin Kafai is a professor of Learning Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work has been instrumental in launching youth digital media design activities and communities for learning. Her collaborations with MIT researchers have resulted in the development of Scratch, the largest and most popular youth programming community for creating and sharing games, animations and stories. Current projects examine creativity in the design of electronic textiles with urban youth that will be showcased in the upcoming book “Textile Messages: Dispatches from the World of Electronic Textiles and Education” (Peter Lang Publishers). Other recent publications include “Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat: New Perspective on Gender and Gaming” (MIT Press) and “The Computer Clubhouse: Constructionism and Creativity in Youth Communities” (Teachers College Press). Kafai earned a doctorate from Harvard University while working at the MIT Media Lab.

Sarah Schoemann

Gabriela Richard

5:00PM Announcement from Philadelphia Game Lab


Girl Develop It



We are pleased to be coordinating our Wednesday Track on Women in Games with several events on the topic that Moore will be hosting the following day, Thursday, October 17th. We believe that, combined, this forms the largest focus on women in games of any conference. We would also like to highlight that speakers at last year’s GGC were ~50% female, unusual for the industry, and that this was achieved without any focused intent aside from presenting the best expertise.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>