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|    Advocacy

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.

2015 Sessions Coming Soon!


Accessibility: Lessons Learned from Designing for Gamers with Disabilities
Ian Hamilton (Ian Hamilton DC)
In recent years, accessibility has exploded for the more than 20 percent of gamers who have disabilities, with the establishment of new design patterns, improved quality of life for gamers with limited recreation opportunities, and broader customer bases. Best practice guidelines are in place, studios from the largest AAA to the smallest indie are publicizing their efforts, support from fellow gamers is at an all-time high, and trade and government bodies are investing in raising awareness. But we're not in the Promised Land yet, and although there are huge benefits, there are also some common pitfalls. This talk shares experiences from both ends of the spectrum, lessons learned from when it hasn't gone well, and examples of success stories - both human benefit stories and examples of business cases. The talk goes beyond basics to give some real insight into how and why to broaden your game's audience to include gamers with disabilities.
How to Depression-Proof Your Studio Culture
Russ Pitts (Take This, Inc.)
The jury is still out on whether or not the games industry is recession-proof, but we're certain it's not depression-proof. Between 20-25% of adults in America are estimated to suffer from some form of emotional ailment. And in our experience, the video game industry is susceptible to even higher rates of emotional distress due to the unique nature of the industry itself, those who are attracted to it, and the cultures which game developers function within. Considering the fact that we spend roughly one third of our lives at our place of employment (and in the games industry, this figure is often higher), ensuring the workplace can be a positive environment for those suffering from emotional distress is critical. Many emotional ailments can worsen in the workplace, and if left untreated, can result in tragic outcomes. The cost to companies themselves should also not be overlooked. According to a recent Harvard Medical School study, depression alone accounts for over 200 lost workdays a year, at a cost of billions of dollars in productivity. This one hour lecture will empower developers to take positive steps to improve the quality of their workplace experience, and provide managers and CEOs with perspective on implementing larger programs to foster greater mental wellness at the studio level.


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.
UBM Tech