ReFiG Call for Project Proposals 2016

ReFiG is now in its sophomore year. Dedicated to supporting work that promotes diversity, inclusion and equity in games across the sectors of formal education, informal learning, the game industry and games/cultures, we invite applications for project funding. Projects may involve the development of games, the provision of skills relevant to game making or community-focused projects. However, all must include a research agenda.

This call for projects is specifically targeted, looking for work in subject areas that represent significant research gaps in terms of gender, intersectional identities and games. Other projects will be considered, but priority will be given to research related to the topics detailed below. Applicants must apply under one of our 4 sectors. The objectives of these sectors are detailed below as well as potential project themes.

Funding between $1,000 and $10,000 CAD can be applied for.

Games do not exist in a vacuum — they are products and producers of culture. As cultural artifacts, they are not just played, but watched, traded, critiqued, modded, and (theory)hacked. They are played alone at night before sleep, and in front of millions in international livestreamed tournaments; they are watched in between bouts of homework, and in bars and pubs. The deeply-entrenched inequalities that continue to characterize games and their cultural practices has the effect of alienating many from play (and its attendant rewards and pleasures), as well as limiting the types of stories told and persons represented.

Projects in this sector should seek to study and/or disrupt these patterns; this may involve documenting and/or help cultivating sites of inclusivity and resistance (see, for instance, the AnyKey initiative).
Project proposals may include but are not limited to:
● Social scientific studies of player communities and practices, particularly involving nonnormative
players and subcultures;
● Intersectional studies looking at gender, race, and other systems of differentiation in game
● Analyses of representation across a range of artifacts and modalities — including, certainly,
how gender and other systems of differentiation are portrayed in games, but also how
gender (as well as other markers of difference including race, sexuality, sexual identity,
class, ability, nationality, body type, and age) is re-constructed through marketing practices,
hardware and peripherals, gaming paratexts, non-digital games, livestreams, games
journalism and criticism, academic research, and so on.

In 2014 the IGDA reported in their international games industry satisfaction survey that women
represent 22% of respondents, trans* persons less than 1%, 79% were caucasian and 86% identified
as heterosexual. This is not a diverse sample and a mere 11.5% of industry representatives reported targeted hiring policies to promote diversity in their companies. While almost 50% of respondents confirmed the presence of discrimination and sexual harassment policies in the workplace, there is still a long way to go towards diversifying the workforce and making those spaces hospitable to underrepresented identities. In the UK the Next Gen Skills Academy report paints a similarly bleak view. Women, LGBTQIA+ folk and minorities have stronger representation in game making outside of the industry proper as independent, art or zinester developers, however, these alternative pathways come with their own precarity. Projects in this sector should investigate or intervene in industry and maker practices with a view to promoting diversity in game development and improving the conditions for workers.

Project proposals may include but are not limited to:
● Embedded research projects with industry partners or individual makers.
● Critical examinations of intersections of gender identity, industry practice, and government
● Equitable hiring/hiring for diversity/employment practices.
● Game projects that deal with gender and diversity.
● Qualitative research that examines the role of women and LGBTQIA+ persons in high profile
• Gender representation and gendered working practices, frameworks, software etc
• Close readings of (gendered) game design software and project management
• Empirical research which explores working conditions, practices and communities of
women working in the games industry; (but also working in other industries/
project-based industries which the games industry can learn from)
• Different modes of labour and work in the industry, both in the physical and virtual
• Communication cultures within the industry (i.e. how projects are briefed and
managed – through online systems/email/face-to-face)
• From freelance to e-lance – how is work advertised and recruited to within the

Increasingly, game studios require an undergraduate degree for even entry-level jobs. Post-secondary institutions have responded to the need for qualified persons in this sector by creating programs and curriculum to skill-up students for the industry. The number of such programs has increased dramatically in recent years but there is no data on their developed curricula, whether institutions are actively recruiting a diverse student bodies or addressing issues of inclusivity in the classroom. Projects in this sector should seek to shed light on these issues or develop best practices along these lines.

Project proposals may include but are not limited to:
● Reviews of post-secondary game design programs (both within and outside of Canada).
Curriculum analysis and/or development.
● Investigations into internship experiences of students.
● Enquiries regarding post-graduation pathways.
● The development of institutional practices for recruiting diversity.
● The development of open-source curriculum that looks at issues of gender, LGBTQIA+
persons, queerness, disability, class, ethnicity in games OR their experiences in game
design programs.
● Reflections on initiatives where formal education intersects with informal education and/or
● Analysis of local and national activities, policies, and investments shaping formal education
in games.

Formal learning environments tend to serve certain demographics more than others. Indeed,
discussions of the ‘gender gap’ in STEM related fields has shown that twenty-first century skills
associated with computing are marked by gender, race and class. Responding to these ‘gaps’, informal learning initiatives designed to furnish marginalized folk with game-relevant skills have emerged such as Dames Making Games (Toronto) and Pixelles (Montreal). The successes of such programs need not only be documented but models for sustainability developed and shared. We are particularly interested in projects that involve or investigate the following:

Project proposals may include but are not limited to:
● Embedded research projects at informal learning sites.
● Research following the careers and pathways of past participants in informal learning
● Workshop proposals for informal learning spaces (grant writing workshops, business
sustainability, ‘going indie’ informational talks, job interview preparation workshops, themed
game jams, etc).
● Museum-based projects and games curation for learning.
● Proposals for new informal learning initiatives.
● Studies of the specific ‘vulnerabilities’ of informal learning initiatives (e.g.dependence on
‘key’ individuals, within-group conflicts, erratic funding) that limit sustainability and

If you received ReFiG project funding in the last fiscal year and would like to apply for support to continue this work, you can apply here.

Deadline for proposals is Nov 15 2016
Acceptance/rejection notification: Dec 2 2016
Submit budget for approval: Dec 12 2016
Funds distributed: Jan 5 2016 (approx)

Online application forms are available. You will need to provide the following information:
• Project title
• Project description (400 words max)
• Description of how your project meets the objectives of the specific ReFig research area you intend
to address (400 words max)
• Name
• Contact email
• Affiliation (optional)
If you have any questions, please get in touch: refiggames [at] gmail [dot] com