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Advocacy Track

Address topics ranging from diversity to censorship to quality of life within the realm of social advocacy in the game industry. The Advocacy Track aims to provide a forum for discussion and ultimately a place to effect change for the development community.

View all Advocacy sessions

Advocacy Track Conference Highlights (W-F)

Understanding the Social Values of Your Players
Jeffrey Burrell (Riot Games)
Tash Elliott ( Riot Games)
This session will discuss the extensive research Riot Games has done to understand the underlying social values their players have across the world, lessons learned learned, and how they applied that information to create meaningful social impact campaigns and long term value for players.
Breaking Through: Psychosis and the Making of 'Hellblade'
Dominic Matthews (Ninja Theory Ltd)
Tameem Antoniades (Ninja Theory Ltd)
This talk is an exploration of the delivery of the mental health themes in 'Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice', all within the structure of an independent AAA model. The talk discusses the approach taken by a small team of 20 to deliver a AAA quality game that strives to push the boundaries of narrative within gaming, with a particular focus on the team's approach to researching and collaborating around the subject of psychosis, in order to deliver a compelling and thoughtful depiction.
Building an Inclusive Tech Lab: How and Why You Should Too
Tara Voelker (Mixer)
Brannon Zahand (343 Industries)
Should studios set aside permanent spaces dedicated to game accessibility research, feedback, education, and design? Microsoft has done just that with its Inclusive Technologies Lab. In this talk, Tara and Brannon (Microsoft's Gaming & Disability Community Leads) will discuss the value of a dedicated inclusive technologies space, how the lab was launched, what went right (and not quite right) during the first 6 months of operation, and provide detailed tips and tricks for setting up your own accessibility-centric space.
You're Not Broken: Finding Your Creative Way Through Difficult Times
Laralyn McWilliams (Skydance Interactive)
During times of turmoil, change and grief, it's easy to blame yourself for creative failures. Everyone reacts differently to these sorts of stress but there's one thing everyone has in common: it makes creativity almost impossible. If you're fundamentally broken, your creative work is fundamentally broken too. Making great games means making ourselves whole again. This talk comes from personal experience, going through multiple rounds of cancer now deemed incurable. It provides tools to recognize when you're deep in the well of darkness, and methods to help reclaim your creativity. Whether you're able to make the arduous climb out of the well or you must find beauty in a journey spent largely in darkness, you can move forward. You can create again. But first comes forgiveness.

Advocacy Track Advisors

Kate Edwards
Kate Edwards is the founder and CEO of Geogrify, a Seattle-based consultancy for content culturalization and the former executive director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), from 2012 to 2017. She is a unique hybrid of an applied geographer, writer, and corporate strategist and is an outspoken advocate on issues affecting the well-being of game developers and the game industry as a whole. Formerly as Microsoft's first Geopolitical Strategist in the Geopolitical Strategy team she created and managed, Kate was responsible for protecting the company against political and cultural content risks across all products and locales. Since leaving Microsoft, she has provided guidance to many companies including Amazon, Facebook, Google and many others on a wide range of geopolitical and cultural issues and she continues to work on a variety of game franchises. Kate also serves on several corporate and organizational boards including TakeThis.org, and is a regular columnist for MultiLingual Computing magazine. In October 2013, Fortune magazine named her as one of the "10 most powerful women" in the game industry and in December 2014 she was named by GamesIndustry.biz as one of their six People of the Year in the game industry.
Mitu Khandaker
Spirit AI
Mitu Khandaker is a game designer, programmer, and the founder of indie microstudio The Tiniest Shark. She is also an Assistant Arts Professor at the NYU Game Center. In 2013, she released 'Redshirt', a critically acclaimed satirical simulation game that uses science fiction tropes to explore social dynamics. In addition to social simulation, her research interests include the aesthetics of interactivity and its relationship to critical play, in which she has a Ph.D. from the University of Portsmouth, UK. She is also CCO of Spirit AI, making tools to help developers use tech to make games more accessible and intriguing in various ways: from rich autonomous characters to procedural narratives to even mitigating online harassment. She has a strong interest in encouraging diversity in game development production and practice, and participates in outreach programs around the world. She was named a BAFTA Breakthrough Brit in 2013.
Siobhan Reddy
Media Molecule
Siobhan Reddy is the studio director at Media Molecule, the band of creative minds behind the hugely successful and innovative 'LittleBigPlanet' game franchise. Aged just 18, Siobhan relocated from her native Australia to the UK, an early fascination with fanzines, technology, pop-culture and entertainment leading her to the UK games industry, which she entered as a production assistant at Perfect Entertainment on DiscWorld Noir. By 1999 she was with Criterion Games, 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. The small studio would go on to do big things, including winning dozens of awards for 'LittleBigPlanet', 'LittleBigPlanet 2', 'Tearaway' and 'Tearaway Unfolded'. Currently in the works is the hotly-anticipated 'Dreams' for PlayStation4.

Siobhan is gratified to have been recognized for her work with a number of accolades, which include being named one of the top 100 most powerful women in the UK by BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour and the Qantas Australian Woman of the year in the UK, both in 2013. In 2016 she was awarded the MCV Women in Games Creative Impact award.
Simon Carless
Simon is currently an Executive Vice-President at UBM Technology, a division of UK-headquartered FTSE 250 company UBM. He oversees strategy for the folks running the Game Developers Conference shows worldwide, plus the major Black Hat set of information security events and other properties including Gamasutra & more.

He's also Chairman Emeritus of the Independent Games Festival, which holds its awards at GDC yearly, & co-founder of the Independent Games Summit, and co-runner of seminal video game database MobyGames, which he helped rescue a couple of years back. From 1996 to 2003, he spent most of his time as a full-time video game designer in the UK and Silicon Valley on titles like 'Looney Tunes Racing' (PlayStation) & 'Terracide' (PC).

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