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The Games Girls Play

THE GAMES GIRLS PLAY
Columbia College Chicago Hosts High School Girls in
Mentorship Summit Focused on Gaming and Gender Equity

CHICAGO (June 17, 2010) – Leading North American female game designers and scholars will come together with young women gamers on Aug. 12-15 at Columbia College Chicago to look at the female voice in the digital gaming industry.  The 3G Summit: The Future of Girls, Gaming, and Gender is an unprecedented four-day initiative that will engage 50 young women from Chicago-area high schools in a series of discussions and workshops designed to foster professional mentorship and ignite lively exchange about young women’s place in the gaming culture.

The 3G Summit (www.colum.edu/3gsummit <http://www.colum.edu/3gsummit> ) is a rare opportunity to learn what young women want from electronic and online games, and according to organizers, is specifically designed to help change the conversation in education and in the world of technology as it provides insight into gender equity and gaming.  It also looks at how digital games delivered over mobile phones and social networking sites can be used for social awareness, civic engagement, and cultural expression.

Organizers are working to support the empowerment of young women to speak out for, and participate in, changing the gaming culture and raising awareness of female gamers and their perspectives.

“As it evolves and matures, the game industry is looking to new voices and new perspectives in order to imagine its own future,” says Los Angeles-based Tracy Fullerton, who will be among the professional mentors.  “I can’t think of a better place to start developing those voices than a gathering like the 3G Summit, where young women can begin to imagine themselves as creative leaders of that future.”

With new insights and skills, the students will develop concepts for their own games over the course of the weekend under the mentorship of the five professional female game designers as the final deliverable for the summit. The girls will present their game concepts on the final day of the summit after which a team of senior Columbia College Interactive Arts and Media students will develop the concepts into games as a fall semester project.

“The summit engages girls as future game designers and powerful technology users, not just as an untapped consumer market,” says Mindy Faber, co-organizer and director of Open Youth Networks in Columbia College’s Interactive Arts and Media Department. “Ultimately, bringing more women to the table in the gaming field changes what gets made, how it is made and to what purpose.”

The 3G Summit is a multi-year initiative co-presented by Open Youth Networks and Columbia College’s Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media. Following this inaugural year of the summit, the presenters plan to extend the program through afterschool components and continued engagement between the girls and their mentors.

“These kinds of initiatives and collective long-term work can continue to create new models and roles for female gamers,” says Jane M. Saks, executive director of the Ellen Stone Belic Institute. “Gender equality and participation is not a new challenge in gaming. Often young women have been marginalized participants in the production and consumption of gaming culture. The goal of bringing together national women gaming leaders is to strengthen the next generations’ claim within the field.”

The first of the two public events at the 3G Summit is a panel discussion with the five leading female game designers to introduce the panelists’ ideas and perspectives that sparked the need to have a hands-on forum about girls and gaming.  The final day of the summit gives the participants a chance to present the concepts behind their proposed game design in a public expo.

The program participants come from Calumet High School of Technology, Evanston Township High School, Young Women’s Leadership Charter School, and Chicago non-profits Erie Neighborhood House and Beyond Media Education.

The five leading female scholars and practitioners serving as mentors during the summit are Mary Flanagan, New York-based gaming scholar and the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College;  Tracy Fullerton, Los Angeles-based writer, game designer and associate professor at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts; Jennifer Jenson, Ontario-based game designer and assistant professor of pedagogy and technology at York University; Susana Ruiz, Los Angeles-based media artist and co-founder of the design collective Take Action Games; and Erin Robinson, Chicago-based independent game designer.

The 3G Summit: Girls, Gaming, and Gender is made possible in part by grants from the McCormick Foundation, Illinois Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Illinois General Assembly, and the Chicago Foundation for Women. It additionally is sponsored by Columbia College Chicago and its “Critical Encounters: Image + Implication” initiative, as well as Resolution Digital Studios, and Show Department Inc.

Columbia College Chicago is an urban institution that offers innovative degree programs in the visual, performing, media and communication arts to more than 12,000 students in over 120 undergraduate and graduate programs. An arts and media college committed to a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, Columbia is dedicated to opportunity and excellence in higher education. For further information, visit www.colum.edu.

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