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|    Advocacy

Please note: this information refers to GDC 2015, check back for updates.

The Game Developers Conference Advocacy track presents a number of topics that address new and existing issues within the realm of social advocacy. Topics covered range from diversity to censorship to quality of life. With these sessions, we hope to offer a forum for discussion and ultimately a place to effect change for the development community.

Advocacy Track sessions are accessible by all GDC pass types.

Arrow Search for all Advocacy Track sessions


Curiosity, Courgae and Camouflage: Revealing the Gaming Habits of Teen Girls
Ashly Burch (Hey Ash LLC)
Rosalind Wiseman (Queen Bees & Wannabes and Masterminds & Wingmen)
Wiseman and Burch will share results and assessments of a national survey of both girl and boy gamers showing the use, attitudes and impact of gaming on young people's social lives. The presentation will further share female players' opinions on character representation and storyline in relation to their own experience playing a game. Do they feel represented in the characters and story lines? Do they want to be? How does the sexualization of female characters affect them, if at all? How do they feel about the current landscape of female characters in games? What games make them feel most inspired and engaged? In addition, the opinions of boy players will be shared about female representation, as well as their opinions of the gaming habits of their female peers.
Building a Manifesto for Game Accessibility
Thomas Westin (Stockholm University)
Ian Hamilton (Ian Hamilton DC)
Tara Voelker (Ready at Dawn)
Michelle Hinn (Michelle Hinn, LLC)
Richard Van Tol (HKU University of the Arts Utrecht)
In the ten years that the IGDA's accessibility group has been running we have seen many advances in the field, with awareness growing, and more and more developers considering accessibility for gamers with disabilities. But there's a long way to go, with work still needed to remove barriers in areas such as hardware, software, third party tools, online communities, education and policy. We will be taking a retrospective of some of the key achievements and developments over the past ten years, and with your input, also look at the next important areas to focus on, providing a roadmap of how all of us can help the industry move towards greater inclusion, allowing the entertainment and quality of life benefits of gaming to reach even wider audiences.
A View from the White House: Games Beyond Entertainment
Mark DeLoura (White House Office of Science & Technology Policy)
Games are a form of media that can be used for many things. Sure, we love using games for entertainment. Who doesn't? Over 90% of America's youth play games. But why do we stick so doggedly to this notion that using games for anything else is some peculiar blasphemy? Do you think the same way about movies? Books? Games are still maturing. Games for entertainment? Absolutely. But let's unshackle games from our expectations of what they have to be or not be. Let's harness their unique features to help teach our children complex subjects, to motivate each other to become healthier, and to conduct scientific research collectively. Games are capable of so much. Don't we owe it to the art form to explore all its possibilities fully? How is your government exploring games as a form of media, and how can you get involved to shape that future?
Depression-Proof Your Studio Culture: A "How-to" for Mental Wellness
Russ Pitts (Take This, Inc)
One in four employed adults in America suffers from symptoms of mental illness, and there's reason to believe that figure is higher in the games industry. Emotional issues accelerate burnout and drain productivity. Depression alone accounts for over 200 lost workdays a year, at a cost of billions of dollars in productivity. Game studio culture can accelerate or exacerbate symptoms of mental illness, and many emotional ailments can worsen in the workplace, resulting in tragic outcomes if left unaddressed. This one-hour lecture will offer simple, effective advice on how to de-stigmatize mental health issues in your studio, help yourself and others create a positive work experience, effectively reach to those who may be suffering silently, and create a culture with a positive resistance to emotional suffering.
Black Characters in Games: Diversify Your Game
Derek Manns (Sungura Games)
Dennis Mathews (Revelation Interactive)
This lecture will discuss characters from the protagonist and antagonist point of view as it pertains to blacks and minorities in present-day games.


Kate Edwards
Kate Edwards is the Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), appointed in December 2012. She is also the founder and principal consultant of Geogrify, a Seattle-based consultancy for content culturalization, and a unique hybrid of an applied geographer, writer, and corporate strategist, built upon a passion for global cultures and media technologies.

Formerly as Microsoft's first Geopolitical Strategist in the Geopolitical Strategy team she created and managed, Kate was responsible for protecting against political and cultural content risks across all products and locales. In the Microsoft Game Studios, she implemented a "geopolitical quality" review process and was personally responsible for identifying potential issues in all 1st party games between 1995 and 2005. Since leaving Microsoft, she has provided guidance to many companies on a wide range of geopolitical and cultural issues, and she continues to work on games such as the Dragon Age series, Modern Warfare 3, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Dance Central series, Mass Effect 3, Halo 4 and Ryse.

Kate is also the founder and former chair of the IGDA's Localization Special Interest Group, a former board member of IGDA Seattle, the co-organizer of the Game Localization Summit at GDC, and is a regular columnist for MultiLingual Computing magazine.
Mitu Khandaker
The Tiniest Shark
Mitu Khandaker is a game designer and programmer, who founded one-woman indie studio The Tiniest Shark, currently working on sci-fi parody life-sim "Redshirt". She is also completing a PhD in video game controllers and aesthetics at the University of Portsmouth, UK. Mitu is a co-founder of "Dear Ada", a website supported by the Feminists in Games initiative, inviting letters from men and women reflecting on gender issues within the industry. She occasionally writes for various games publications, and was named one of Develop magazine's Top 30 Under 30 upcoming developers of 2012. Mitu was named as a BAFTA 'Breakthrough Brit' in 2013.
Siobhan Reddy
Media Molecule
Siobhan Reddy is studio director at Media Molecule, the band of creative minds behind the hugely successful and innovative LittleBigPlanet game franchise.

Cultivating an early fascination with fanzines, technology, pop-culture, and entertainment led to her first job at Spike Wireless. When she relocated at age 18 from native Australia to the UK, Siobhan entered the games industry as a production assistant at Perfect Entertainment on DiscWorld Noir. By 1999 she had joined Criterion Games as producer, where she consistently shipped high quality titles, including Burnout 3 and Burnout 4.

In 2006, seeking a new challenge and the opportunity to be part of a close-knit and creative team, Siobhan joined the newly founded Media Molecule, to work alongside directors Mark Healey, Alex Evans, Dave Smith, Kareem Ettouney, and Chris Lee. Together, the small studio would go on to do big things, including winning dozens of awards for LittleBigPlanet 1 and 2.

In 2011, Media Molecule took the step to being a 2 project studio. The first of these was announced in 2012: it is the studios first Vita project, Tearaway, and it continues Media Molecule's focus on creative gaming and getting people making things. The second project is still secret squirrels.