Diversity has been a hot topic in the games development community over the past year, and GDC will keep that conversation going with a series of in-depth talks.
Many of these can be found as part of the conference's Advocacy track, which covers everything from work force diversity and gender balance to game accessibility and developers' quality of life. You can find out more about the Advocacy track at the official GDC website.
In the meantime, read on for Develop's pick of some of the most interesting and progressive talks at this year's conference:
Women in Games Audio
Thursday, March 5th – 5.30pm to 6.30pm – Room 3006, West Hall
Featuring leading women from the sound teams at Microsoft Studios, Ubisoft Montreal and High Moon Studios as well as independent music firms and Women in Games International, this panel will discuss how women can cultivate careers in game audio and what they can bring to games.
"In the last few years, a number of women composers scored top games and delivered remarkable scores. The Women in Game Audio panel will celebrate some of our work," panel organiser Penka Kouneva of Kouneva Studios told Develop. "We will discuss cultivating a career in game audio, and specifically how women sustain careers as composers and sound designers for AAA games. Two of our panelists are audio leaders hiring composers – they will share the considerations and decision-making on the hiring side.
"We want to send a positive, forward-thinking message on how composers cultivate a career. Most importantly, audio production has become hyper-competitive, and publishers need to steer clear of sounding too much like the competing titles. Women composers can help bring more fresh ideas to the table, and indeed bring diverse voices to game audio. Along with their spirit of collaboration and cooperation, women composers and sound designers could be fantastic assets to a game audio team."
Black Characters in Games: Diversify your Game
Friday, March 6th – 1.30pm to 2.30pm – Room 124, North Hall
This lecture will discuss characters from the protagonist and antagonist point of view as it pertains to blacks and minorities in present-day games. The discussion will be broken down from the following key terms:
- Aggregation: Collect into one sum to improve the collective concepts and creations of characters
- Perception: Immediate or intuitive recognition from the development of minority characters and their stereotypes
- Diversity: Various ways to improve the process of development and its perception
- Development: Bring out the capabilities or possibilities and aggregate a diverse team to improve the perception of the team, company and owner
- Offensive: What is perceived as offensive content as it pertains to blacks and minorities in games
- Conscientious: Awareness starts with talks such as this
Increasing gender diversity in game development programs
Monday, March 2nd – 11.15am to 11.40am – Room 3001, West Hall
Students and lecturers from NYU Game Center, the University of Santa Cruz, the University of Southern California and more discuss how to attract a wider range of people to courses about games development. A recent IGDA survey showed that 30 per cent of game students are women – only slightly higher than the 22 per cent employed by the development industry.
Audience members will learn about factors preventing women from applying or staying in game development programs, as well as practical tips for how to address these. The first person stories of students of game development will provide insight into what works in inspiring women to pursue careers in game making.
Turning the tide: Hiring and retaining women in the games industry
Wednesday, March 4th – 2pm to 3pm – Room 2001, West Hall
A self-explanatory sessions, this panel will discuss how the industry can enable women to sustain long-term careers. Speakers high-ranking women from Square Enix, EA, ZeniMax, Wargaming and Gameloft. Attendees will hear and learn best practices from games industry hiring leaders on how to create work environments that are appealing and safe for women; that help improve hiring success of female job candidates, and support retention of highly experienced women who continue to offer great value to their employers.
Attendees will also receive hands-on advice for developing their own studio or team strategies to promote inclusiveness, increase hiring of women, and design secure environments, while maintaining equilibrium with their entire core staff.
Don't forget, the March issue of Develop will be on the show floor all week, giving you the chance to get your company in front of thousands of GDC attendees.
And if you want to meet up with our Deputy Editor Craig Chapple at the show, email firstname.lastname@example.org.