Women in Games 2008

IMG_1833A couple of months ago I got asked by the IBM University Relations team to go and present at this years Women in Games conference. “IBM” and “games” might sound like they are from two rather separate industries, but actually there are quite a few links.  For a start IBM has helped to manufacture the microprocessor chips in 3 major new gaming consoles –  the Xbox360, Nintendo Wii and Sony Playstation 3.  Scondly computer games have been developed by, and in partnership with, IBM to help teach students.

IMG_1829My presentation was on encouraging more girls into the technology industry.  IBM recognises this is a business need and has set up a worldwide ‘Women in Technology’ programme to take part in developing technology women of the future.  My presentation talked about the local programme which I helped to set up about 8 years ago and I shared some real life stories, feedback from girls about their view on technology, and the impact that these programmes has made on them.  I focussed on our EX.I.T.E. (Exploring Interests in Technology and Engineering) Camp programme and as it was a games conference talked about some of the games IBMers have developed to help teach the girls.

Kevin Farrar, a Programme Manager with the IBM Academic Initiative, also presented at this year’s conference.  He talked about INNOV8 which is a ‘serious game’ business simulator which teaches business process fundamentals, and PowerUP which is a free multiplayer online game that IBM has created in partnership with TryScience and the New York Hall of Science around engineering and conservation issues.  It was really interesting to hear about both of these and what other parts of IBM are involved with.

My favourite presentation of the conference for its ‘COOL!’ factor came from Karen Brennan who works at the MIT Media Lab.  She presented on Scratch which is a programing language designed to help anyone ages 8 and upwards to program and share all sorts of things.  It reminded me a little of Robocode, which is one of the things I had talked about in my presentation, where you use a GUI to program Java robots.  In a similar way Scratch has a GUI interface where you clip together elements to create your program.  Karen shared with us some of the differing things that had been created in the year since it was announced and it was amazing to see where some people’s imagination had led them.

IMG_1844On the Thursday evening of the conference we went to Warwick castle for their medieval banquet.  When we arrived we were served drinks and had a chance to look around.  Then we were led through corridors and rooms of the castle where there was some very realistic characters… a couple of times we felt the need to just prod the characters to check they weren’t alive!  During the banquet they put on a show for us which was a good laugh – particularly to a room predominately full of women after a few drinks when they referred to us hardy men going out to battle!

I really enjoyed the conference and having the opportunity to meet some interesting people from other areas of the industry.  Some more photographs can be found here.

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3 Responses to “Women in Games 2008”

  1. davidlind Says:

    All very impressive. Everything looks nice and the content is super. Public speaking can be very nerve wracking. Perhaps not as much as jumping out of airplanes but who knows? Only someone who has done both could tell you.

  2. Helena Says:

    Jumping out of a plane wasn’t scary!

  3. D’log :: blogging since 2000 » Women in Games conference reports Says:

    […] Women in Games conference (10-12th September 08). DJ Ludic travelled over from the U.S.A. Helena Pugsley was sent to the conference by IBM. Eileen Brown went and wondered where all the recruiters were. […]

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