Christina Myers’ PhD, supervised by Lara Piccolo and Trevor Collins, explores how to democratise educational game design in order to enable diverse teams to design games in an egalitarian and well-informed way. To evaluate some of the tools that Christina has developed, she organised two weekend-long game design events, also known as ‘Game Jams’, where participants learnt how to create educational games collaboratively. The educational games were aimed at raising awareness of gender inequalities. The Game Jams were structured with activities and resources, co-designed with hundreds of people to support inclusivity, that triggered reflection, conversation and mutual learning about gender, education and game design.
On two rainy Saturday mornings the participants; including particularly women, people of color, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community; showed up at a recently opened gaming space called ‘Platform’ in London for the Game Jam. Most of them had never designed games before and were incredibly motivated to create games that represent them and their views on gender inequalities. Above all, they were eager to learn how to create educational games to create social change.
The participants were guided by mentors Victor Cardozo, Anaïs Chetrit, Charlotte Chenu and Hanna Hallard who supported the groups to accomplish each of the activities. At the end of the event, the large majority of the participants said they felt capable and motivated to design more educational games in the future and they created awesome games in two days. One example of the games created illustrates the everyday life of a woman, where players experience issues related to the gender gap, sexist language and beauty expectations. Another game is about gender-based toys where players come to understand how difficult it is to choose toys without being influenced by societal stereotypes.
Christina is part of the Athena SWAN committee of KMi, led by Miriam Fernandez, and presented this initiative as a way to ensure more diversity in the gaming sector. All of the game jamers received a certificate of participation signed by one of the advocates for the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, Dr. Alaa Murabit. Scholas Occurrentes, the Pope’s initiative on education, has also agreed to publish the games created on their online platform, which is accessed by more than 446,000 schools. Christina’s work is being recognised as an initiative to create social change by diversifying the gaming sector and by using gaming as a tool to raise awareness of social issues.