When looking up timely topics for this blog, it’s extremely easy to get caught up in some U.S.-centrism. Such is the mindset one adapts when much of the online discourse is catered in our direction, intentionally or not. So this time I have a little something for our friends up North.
Two weeks ago, our very own BrothaDom wrote about the need for more women and people of color to get their hands in the coding industry—and all fields of technology, if I’m being blunt here. While he provided some examples of organizations who set out to right this wrong, they’re not necessarily accessible to everyone. One other group won’t increase the accessibility level by too much, but if if I can entice at least one person, I’ve done my job. So while the U.S. has Code Liberation and Black Girls Code, Montreal has the non-profit group Pixelles. And honestly, I haven’t heard such a cute name in a long time, so I’m already sold.
Born of the initiative of Tanya Short and Rebecca Cohen-Palacois, Pixelles helps women with no coding background to make their dreams a reality and help them create their first video game. Both Short and Cohen-Palacois have experience within the industry, and want nothing more than to pass their knowledge down to other women and girls who share the same passions as they do. What I like best about Pixelles, though, is how friendly it seems to every type of woman who wants to get their first taste of game creation. Back when I was a wee high schooler, I took a class about game design at the local college, a class also toted as being for girls. And sure, we designed games, but most of the time we were watching the two guys in charge of the class play games and talk about the differences between Final Fantasy X-2 and Shenmue. At the end of the day, many girls didn’t get the experience that they were looking for because the class wasn’t so much about empowering girls to learn how to code up a game in Warcraft 2 as it was doing some sort of graduate work for the technology college.
With Pixelles, which has two experienced, capable women at the forefront, I have a lot more faith that these classes will be more tailored to make sure people aren’t, for example, left wondering how the fuck designing a character in Soul Caliber 2 is going to help them to learn to program a character to have a conversation. Additionally, Short and Cohen-Palacois will allow the women who join the program to experiment with their own styles and help them truly grow as their own developers.
For those in the Montreal area, I would urge you to keep an ear to the ground for the next time they’re planning on holding one of their game incubators (a set of classes that span once a day for six weeks). In the meantime, though, for those in and out of the area, Pixelles is currently holding an Indiegogo to raise funds for their upcoming projects. While the funding goal has already been met and surpassed, the more Pixelles is funded, the more they can do in the future. Furthermore, seeing the support Pixelles is getting may inspire other groups to try their hands at these types of workshops, which is so, so vital. From their Indiegogo page:
One year later, we asked the women from the first Pixelles Game Incubator what they’ve been up to in games. Since making their first game with us, they’ve gone on to creating even more games, participating in jams & competitions, working professionally, and becoming more involved in the games community.
Our mentorship program connects aspiring and junior women in game dev experienced folks in their dream jobs. It’s more than just a role model — we foster help personal relationships that which clear the haze around joining the industry, support their job search, and contribute towards breaking the glass ceiling. So far, we’ve helped quite a few women get jobs in both AAA and indie studios, with many more on their way!