Dec 112012

Silicon Sisters is a woman driven game company. They created the app game “School 26”, which looks at empathy and emotions for teenage girls. On November 26th, I had a meeting with 2 women from Silicon Sisters, Kirsten and Brenda. The topic at hand, creating a new game.

On November 15th, I met Kirsten at a Women in Games event. We coordinated our schedules so we could get together to talk about Social Services and Video Games.

I have been trying to find my place in the gaming industry for a while. Unsure of where I would fit because I am merely a gamer. I don’t create or market video games.

I have attended a few game conventions and a couple “Women in Games” events. I was Press for Geek Girl Con and also volunteered while I was there. I attended Vancouver Fan Expo and Vancouver Gaming Expo as Press for Epic Gamer Girl. But I kept asking myself what is the point. Why do I want to connect with people in the game industry if I’m not a part of it? I’m not a “fan girl” of any specific company nor do I desire to meet anyone famous. I don’t really care who did the voice for my favorite game characters or who designed the quests that I spend hours playing. I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. I can’t be the only person who plays games for the pure entertainment of it. But then is that really what I’m doing? …this is way more philosophical than I intended.

I’ve been playing video games for as long as I can remember but I’ve never seriously looked at why.

Let me share a bit of my gaming experiences. When I was in my final year of university, I couldn’t get enough Rock Band. I would wake up and sing a few songs and sing more before bed. In between the madness of assignments and exams, I would sing my heart out. I obsessed over getting new songs and being ranked in the leaderboards. At one point I was ranked 3rd in the world for vocals. If wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say I wasted away for a few months and didn’t even know who I was.

In my “Game World” I was amazing.

What drove me to spend so much time and money on games?

Oh yes, I was amazing!

Playing video games, getting achievements, and being ranked on leaderboards made me feel special. Again, I KNOW I’m not alone in feeling this way. Satisfaction from gaming feels good. It may be a virtual experience, but it’s fun.

So, how did I go from playing video games alone in a dark room to connecting with the creators of games?!

I suppose I let my heart guide where I needed to be and I incorporated my Game World into my Reality.

After university and traveling to New Zealand, I started working with children and youth. I began my work in Early Childhood Education settings with infants and toddlers and after a couple years I applied for my dream job at a transition house for battered women and children.

During this time, I observed how families interacted and how disconnected people were becoming. Children knew how to unlock their parents phones and play games on it before the learned how to tie their shoes or ride a bike. By 2 years old, children were interacting with technology in ways that adults felt flustered. They would swivel their fingers around the iPod control pad to find a game, yet still eat their toys. You know how teething can get in the way of fun eh! Children advanced at gaming and mastered the controls of new tech toys. They do after all; have endless hours to immerse themselves in their very own virtual reality.

How does any of this connect? What’s the point of knowing that I felt awesome playing Rock Band or children actually play video games?

…well, as a game designer, I suppose you need to know your target audience. And as a child and youth support worker …well, you need to know the same. How can you connect with the children and youth that you work with, if you don’t know anything about what’s important to them.

The best way to show that you care about a child is to show genuine interest in what they like, and participate in it. Children like technology so they are more inclined to use it. If you are enthusiastic about technology, children will know. Children don’t want to sit and chat about their feelings all the time, so why not create an interactive game that helps them learn about their feelings and behaviours, and what the “realistic” consequences could be.

It was great to meet with Kirsten and Brenda and I can’t wait to see what games will magically be created through Silicone Sisters. I obviously can’t go into any juicy details about what the game will look like, but I’m confident it will be EPIC.

In the meantime, you can check out their free game on the app store.

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