Is the reign of the 18-35 male gamer coming to an end? Maybe. The explosive growth of social and casual gaming has predominantly been fueled by female players in their 40s. As more and more game developers actively target women and young children, we’re seeing an expansion of what games are and can be. Women In Games Vancouver, along with event partner EA Canada, are proud to present “Rescuing the Game Industry: Women and Children First?“You are invited to join the evening’s panelists at the EA Canada campus in Burnaby on September 12th as they discuss the ways they are making games more accessible to everyone. Some of the points that will be pondered include:
- How do you appeal to first-time female gamers?
- How do you create family friendly games?
- What types of gameplay and content do they need for these broader audiences?
- And what lessons have they learned from developing games with these new gamers in mind?
“Women in Games Vancouver is extremely excited to be able to bring a panel together of such a diverse and experienced group as well as being all female,” said WIGV board member Zoe Curnoe, Development Director, Artworks, EA. “With so much changing so quickly in our industry we wanted to hear from the women making, studying and marketing these games and their unique insight into what the challenges are and how our industry is adapting to it’s new audience. EA has generously supported this event through their Diversity and Inclusion and University Relations initiatives and we would not have been able to put this event together without their support. We are expecting some lively discussion and debate, it should be a great evening!”
- Jennifer Donahoe, Senior Marketing Manager and Brand Development, Play4Free, EA, San Francisco
- Megan Gaiser, Chief Creative Strategy Officer and former CEO of Her Interactive, Seattle
- Jennifer Brandes Hepler, Senior Writer, Bioware, Edmonton
- Robin Hunicke, Producer, Glitch Interactive (formerly of thatgamecompany and Senior Producer of Journey) San Francisco
- Jennifer Jenson, Professor, Pedagogy and Technology, York University, Toronto
- Sandy Spangler, Design Director, Acronym Games, Vancouver
The Evening’s Schedule:
5:30 – Registration and networking with refreshments
6:30 – 8:00 – Panel
8:00 – 9:00 – Mingling, networking, refreshments, engaging discussion
Jen Donahoe has been in marketing for over 16 years, spanning toy, entertainment, and video game industries. She began her career at Hasbro toy company, and in her 5 years at Hasbro, she developed an expertise in product and web marketing on such brands as Star Wars, Transformers and G.I. Joe. Her next 6 years were spent at Disney consumer products in the toy group doing licensing, brand management, and retail marketing, working on all Disney and Pixar movies such as Toy Story, Cars, Finding Nemo and Disney Princesses. Jen then took an opportunity to join the board game company, Cranium, where she was able to test the waters for taking the brand into toys. In 2007, she moved into the video game industry, joining EA and marrying her knowledge of the toy industry with her childhood passion for games. In January 2012, Jen transitioned into the EA Games label to head up marketing for the emerging all-digital F2P business unit at EA called Play4Free. Jen is passionate about being “Yoda” to the next generation of marketers and in helping game developers make the right game for the right consumers.
Jen Jenson is a Professor at York University in Toronto, Canada. She has done the usual academic publishing of stuff, including on topics like educational game design and gender and gameplay. She and various teams of folks have made a number of games focused on contagious disease, as well as a music game and most recently a kind of matching game for the iPad and iPhone. She and colleagues have recently begun a network, Feminists in Games (FiG), supported with Canadian government funding to study and address the ongoing paucity of women in the games industry, among other objectives
Robin Hunicke is a Game Designer, Producer and passionate advocate of Experimental Gameplay. Her titles include the bestselling downloadable PSN title Journey, as well as family-friendly franchises like MySims and Steven Spielberg’s BOOM BLOX for Nintendo Wii. She is currently working at Tiny Speck, on the whimsical, friendly online game Glitch. An artist and computer scientist by training, Robin’s goal is to bring positive, new and unexpected gaming experiences to the public. Through her public speaking, volunteer work and academic studies, she evangelizes fresh, broadly-accessible ideas, sustainable work practices and increased diversity in our industry.
Jennifer Brandes Hepler got her start in pen-and-paper RPGs, writing supplements for “Shadowrun,” “Paranoia,” “Earthdawn,” and “Legend of the Five Rings.” After doing some hard time in Hollywood, working on CBS television’s “The Agency,” she returned to her gaming roots by joining Bioware as a writer on the Dragon Age franchise. She has written for “Dragon Age: Origins,” “Dragon Age II” and several DLCs, as well as spending two years writing for “Star Wars: The Old Republic.” She is best known for her writing on the female-targeted romance characters, Anders and Corso Riggs, and has been an outspoken proponent of making games more friendly to casual and non-traditional players.
Sandy Spangler joined the games industry back in 1994 creating art and animation for an array of award-winning kids’ games at Seattle-based Humongous Entertainment, starring beloved characters such as Freddi Fish and Pajama Sam. Gradually shifting from art to game design, she eventually moved to London and joined Elixir Studios to work on an unpublished project aimed at the casual SIMS market. She then spent over three years at Sony’s London Studio exploring new ways to interface with games using the EyeToy and Playstation Eye cameras including body motion, colour tracking, and augmented reality.
More recently she has been with Vancouver’s A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. Games as the Studio Design Director, working on a variety of projects including the mid-core free-to-play MMO “Family Guy Online” and the family game “Wipeout: The Game” for the Wii which has sold over two million copies. She is always striving to create game experiences which appeal to new and broader audiences, and loves discovering new ways to play.
Megan Gaiser is Chief Creative Strategy Officer and former CEO of Her Interactive and sets creative direction, brand and portfolio expansion and cultivates strategic partnerships. Under her stewardship, Her Interactive (HI) has grown from a boutique company to an emerging competitor with the globally-loved Nancy Drew franchise games sales topping 9 million units world-wide. The Nancy Drew PC franchise is the #1 in the U.S. six years running. Her Interactive has garnered 24 consecutive Parents’ Choice Awards. Megan has been named one of the “Game Industry’s 100 Most Influential Women” by Next Generation and “Top 10 Most Influential Women of the Decade” by Gaming Angels. She also received the 2010 Microsoft Women in Games award and the 2011 IndieCade Honorary Trailblazer Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Prior to Her Interactive in 1997, Ms. Gaiser spent 11 years producing award-winning film documentaries, winning many awards, including 15 Cine Golden Eagle awards, three New York festival awards, and the International Documentary Milano Award. She also spent time on the Microsoft team as a Producer.