As the Global Game Jam comes to Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) for its tenth anniversary, academic Dr Romana Ramzan says it is a timely reminder that women have an important role to play in the industry.
Digital game developers from across the world will link with GCU this weekend for Global Game Jam 2018. The world's largest game-creation event, it takes place over 48 hours.
And Dr Ramzan, lecturer in Games Software Development, believes that the Jam proves a career in games is a very viable option for women as well as men.
“I never thought I could have a career in games,” she said. “It was only during the fourth year of my Internet Software degree that I realised it was something I could pursue. Encouraging greater gender diversity can only enrich and strengthen the industry by bringing new perspectives that can lead to more creative gaming experiences.
“When I speak at events and run workshops, it helps break the stereotype of what a game designer looks like. Seeing a young woman gets them thinking, before I’ve even said anything, that this is no longer a boys’ playground. At the first Scottish Game Jam in 2009, there were no women taking part. In just five years, the number flourished and continues to rise."
Participants in a Game Jam – jammers – are given a theme late on a Friday afternoon. They have until the Sunday afternoon to complete a game based around it.
Jammers will be joined by Robin Hunicke, co-founder of the independent game studio Funomena, which creates experimental games, and Thorsten S Wiedemann, founder and director of media developer A MAZE.
The Global Game Jam will this year take place between January 26 and January 28. GCU’s Saltire Centre will be one of 700 locations in 95 countries where jammers will create 7000 games. GCU will host 200 students from GCU, the University of West of Scotland and Glasgow School Art, as well as industry professionals and amateurs.
According to Dr Ramzan, the Global Game Jam invites students to explore new technology tools, try new roles in development and test their skills.
She said: “We’re excited to once again be a host site. It’s wonderful to see how the event has changed and it’s great to see how the event has transformed the lives of so many participants. Some have set up companies as well as being nominated for BAFTA awards. The Jam is a highlight of the gaming calendar and offers a great opportunity for those who take part to put their skills to the test.”
Dr Ramzan has been nominated for and received a host of industry awards, most recently at the Scottish Asian Business Awards 2017 where she was named Professional of the Year.