Video games are an incredible, evolving art form which offer emotional attachment, moral exploration and team building like no other medium. Unfortunately they sometimes also offer sexism, discrimination and harassment like no other medium and this is something that needs to stop. Join us with the VG culture track to discuss the culture and community surrounding video games: its current problems, how we might overcome those problems, and highlighting anything that's taken a step in the right direction. If you make games, write about games or just play games and would like to discuss some aspect of gaming culture, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us. See you there!
Micro-talk submissions now open!
We're holding open submissions for the Saturday night micro-talks. Micro-talks are a set of 20 slides which move on automatically after 16 seconds, giving you 5 minutes 20 seconds to talk about whatever topic you like. If you want to have your say on any aspect of video game culture send your title and topic to email@example.com!
Here We are Now, Entertain Us: The state of gaming culture
The keynote talk on the current state of gaming culture and its similarities to the culture of film, music and fashion in the early 90's.
Guests: Leigh Alexander
Gender and the Games Industry - Crossed with Geek Feminism
"Women don't play games", "Harassment is just part of the culture", "They're only playing it to get a man". These are just a few of the absurd misconceptions which still surround women who play games and work in the games industry, and it's about time they stopped. Our panellists discuss the representation of genders in games, the problems women face in the industry and community and some of the initiatives to get more women involved in games.
Guests: Rhianna Pratchett, Cara Ellison, Jo Twist and John Walker
Developers as Curators
Well, your game's out there in the ever expanding market place. Everyone thinks it's a great game, but how do you get more people playing it? Unfortunately, this is a question still being asked by many other indie developers and they're still looking for an answer. Steam Greenlight was meant to be an answer but it's had plenty of criticism since starting and it highlights the problem: the industry lacks infrastructure for good indie games to rise to the top. What's the solution to this? Should successful indie devs be promoting up and coming games? Does this put to much responsibility on them?
Guests: Tom Vian, George Buckenham, Esther MacCallam-Stewart and John Brindle
Games For Us: The Rise of LGBT and Feminist Indie Gaming - Crossed with Queer Fandom
Video games offer the potential to create and explore an infinite range of worlds, stories and characters – so where’s the LGBT and feminist representation? While the mainstream is grappling with growing demand for diversity, independent developers are taking advantage of increasingly accessible technology to present games that challenge assumptions. Are you looking for games that speak to your experience, or is there a game you love and think other queer and feminist fans should know about? Come and hear from the people who make and play games that deal with gender and sexuality, and bring your questions and recommendations to share with the audience.
Guests: Gemma Thomson, Laura Kate Dale, Maki Yamazaki, Peter Silk and Cara Ellison
Getting Into the Industry
So you've made a game. Or, maybe you want to make part of a game with someone else. Or maybe you just want to write about all the great things gaming is and could be. If you're a bit stuck about where to go from here, come listen to our panelist talk about the routes they took to get into the games industry.
Guests: Gemma Thomson, Laura Kate Dale and Esther MacCallam-Stewart
Script Writing For Games
Writing in any form is an art, but script writing is something different – especially when it comes to games! Unlike other formats, gaming involves a relationship with the player, and a script has to allow for this additional 'character'. James Swallow, one of the writers for Deus Ex: Human Revolution, is joined by Rhianna Pratchett, writer of the recent Tomb Raider remake, to discuss the unique format and challenges of script writing for games.
Guests: James Swallow and Rhianna Pratchett
Late Night Culture - Community Micro-talks
You've seen all the topics that we wanted to talk about, but what about you? Borrowing the idea of micro-talks (presentations of 20 slides, 16 seconds each) you'll get to see what you, the community, thought important, interesting, and informative. Prepare to concentrate and expect the fastest talking you'll see all weekend.
Making Your First Game
So you've been hearing about all the interesting places game culture is set to go the entire weekend and you want to do your bit to guide it, but where do you start? Thankfully, there are plenty of tools available for game making and we'll give you a run-down, no matter what your skill level.
Guests: Quinn, Meg Jayanth and C.Y. Reid
Indie War Stories
War is hell. And so is making games, depending on who you ask. But does it have to be? Join our indie developers to hear some of the do's and don't's for making a game and staying sane whilst doing so!
Guests: Alexis Kennedy, Anna Marsh, Tracy King and Adrian Hon
Disability in Games
The third session in our series of diversity panels, this session will look at disability in gaming. From the lack of representation (and a look at the few examples we can find!) through to making gaming more accessible, we'll take a look at all sides of this issue.
Guests: Shirley Procter, Quinn, C.Y. Reid and Alex Macmillan
Race in Games
For the fourth and final session in our series of diversity panels, we'll be taking a look at race in gaming – which games are good, which games aren't, and what games can do to make things better! After all, for a medium where you can make anything, or be anyone, a lot of the industry seems fixed on just the one default narrative. By looking at what we can do to avoid this narrative, we can help make gaming a more inclusive place for everyone.
Guests: Mitu Khandaker, Meg Jayanth, Isamar Carillo and Rebecca Levene
Difficulty In Games: a barrier to art?
Games are unique as an art form, in that then have a barrier to entry for the full experience. Sure, maybe not everyone will "get" a modern art piece, but they still have access to the full work. As games evolve, we're seeing more effort being put into story, character design and artwork but what good is that if a player gets frustrated with the challenge and gives up half way through? As the medium grows, what role should difficulty play in the gaming experience: should it be possible for anyone to see all of the game, regardless of skill, or is the challenge an inherent part of the game's experience?
Guests: Tom Kitchin, Shirley Procter, Tom Betts and Alan Zucconi
By the Fireside - with Rhianna Pratchett and Cara Ellison
After a long weekend of game culture discourse, come and unwind by the fireplace as Cara and Rhianna talk about...whatever they want to, really. Hopefully remaining on the topic of games though.
Guests: Rhianna Pratchett and Cara Ellison