Georgia Tech Students Launch Different Games Collective to Foster Diversity and Inclusivity in Gaming Community
Brooklyn-Based Different Games Conference Inspires Dear Games Collaboration between Georgia Tech Game Studio and Charis Circle
In 2013, Sarah Schoemann, now a doctoral student in Georgia Tech’s Digital Media program, co-founded the Different Games Conference while in graduate school at New York University (NYU) because she saw a need for inclusivity within the gaming community.
“Underrepresented communities don’t necessarily consider themselves ‘gamers,’ and yet, the gaming community is filled with diverse participants,” said Schoemann. “By launching the Different Games Conference, we created a space for broader, more inclusive discussions of games and game cultures.”
The Different Games Conference is an annual, volunteer-led event featuring discussion panels, workshops, and playable games from emerging voices and perspectives that are not typically supported by the commercial industry. Previous panels and workshops have explored a range of topics — from games and mental health to global game development. The fourth annual Different Games Conference will occur April 8-9, 2016, at NYU’s Polytechnic School of Engineering in Brooklyn.
Within two years, the Different Games Conference has doubled in attendance, speakers, and “arcade” games. Last year’s conference featured three programmatic tracks with 60 speakers and 42 playable games in the arcade. Six Georgia Tech students were among the nearly 300 attendees from more than half a dozen countries who participated.
When Schoemann came to Georgia Tech as a Ph.D. student, she teamed with Michael Vogel, a graduate student in Georgia Tech’s Digital Media program, and other members to create the Different Games Collective, a grassroots volunteer-run collaborative that creates community resources and events to support marginalized voices in the development of do-it-yourself and independent games. The Different Games Collective encompasses the newly launched Atlanta-based Dear Games, which is a feminist games collaboration with the Georgia Tech Game Studio that supports diverse participation in video game development and culture at the South’s oldest independent feminist bookstore, Charis Books.
“Dear Games was started for the Georgia Tech community, and it is our hope that in the next few years, we will get more Georgia Tech students and faculty involved in both Dear Games and the Different Games Conference,” explained Vogel.
According to Aby Parsons, director of Tech’s LGBTQIA Resource Center and one of the supporters of the Different Games Collective, “Sarah, Michael, and their team members have helped to increase Georgia Tech’s presence in the gaming community, especially at a time when diversity in gaming and digital media is a huge issue across the nation.”
Georgia Tech students and game designers interested in showcasing their games at the 2016 Different Games Conference arcade can submit an application by Jan. 22, 2016, at www.2016.differentgames.org. To learn more about the Different Games Collective and/or attend an upcoming event, visit www.differentgames.org.