Previous research on gamejams have presented them as a useful informal learning space for creativity, innovation and inclusion (Ryan et al. 2015; Kultima, A. 2015). Others have argued that all-female gamejams and incubators are effective interventions for improving diversity in the games industry and games culture (Kennedy, H. 2018; Harvey and Fischer, 2015). However, while these gamejams are often ostensibly open to all, the actual possibilities for participations are often dictated by the dynamics and affordances of the spaces in which gamejams take place. What forms of diversity are encouraged by these gamejams, and what are not? How can these events be leveraged to challenge the dominant global industry ‘pipeline’ and ‘skills’ discourses and encourage more diverse participation? This paper seeks to address these questions by presenting the findings of a three-year research project involving mixed-gender informal game making events, exploring the possibilities of refiguring gamejams as sites of queer expression and resistance in the broader sense advocated by Ruberg and Phillips (2018).
This project firstly surveyed and observed three gamejams in three different cities in Ireland, which were ‘open to everyone’. We found that these events predominantly attracted young male programmers and identified several implicit and explicit barriers to participation. The project then organised six ‘beginner friendly and female friendly’ game development workshops in two different locations in Ireland, designed to address some of the barriers we had identified. These events were observed by researchers, and both entry and exit surveys were conducted.