#GirlsMakeGames: Moving Making to the Next Level


Taking place on the unceded and occupied territory of the Coast Salish people, in late March 2016, eight girls and gender nonconforming youth gathered on Penelakut territory / in Galiano Island to challenge social barriers in gaming.

#GirlsMakeGames was a 4-day opportunity to engage a diverse group of relative beginners–all of whom hail from communities traditionally pushed to the margins of mainstream culture–in an immersive program where we learned how to make video games and contribute to the shifting of dominant power-structures in game-making/gaming culture, tech culture, and the world at large.


With the big picture goal of transforming gaming culture as an essential piece of the core objectives, we learned very quickly that enhancing basic code literacy is a necessary first step for anyone seeking agency and influence within the gaming world (especially for those who are often excluded from and/or misrepresented in this world and elsewhere.) coding and game-making is an ongoing process, requiring practice and teamwork to fully realize our respective visions of more inclusive, girl and gender nonconforming-centered games. safer and more accessible spaces must be created for these processes, including the process of social change, to unfold.


The irony of merging nature with technology was not lost on us; and at the same time fit together seamlessly, as we centred mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing in our program. taking inspiration from the natural world, our learning spaces extended beyond the computer screen and the instructions of our mentors, which in turn helped shape the direction of our games.


The four days were packed with a unique blend of:
1. Skills-building: learning the primary elements of a gameā€”from sprites and objects to custom variables and basic code syntax
2. Big picture visioning: why is the world of gaming so male-dominated? why is violence against women so normalized within it? what would a feminist game look like? what might a feminist / girl-centered / trans & deaf-inclusive game culture look and feel like?
3. Collaborative creation of safer and more creatively charged and emotionally present collective spaces
4. Outdoor-grounding and recharging
5. Knowledge sharing: sourcing relevant and respectful online tutorials to support ongoing DIY learning
6. Independent game-making


It is an honour to work with the fine folks (participants, mentors and staff alike) who gathered on Galiano Island for this high tech/rustic experience of code-learning and game-making in the woods. we intend to follow up with each other and support our endeavours into the tech world, as well as find opportunities to create more spaces like what we have experienced here for others.