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Overcoming the odds with a female-only game development jam

Celebrating women in games

XX Game Jam, a London-based gathering in which women work in groups to develop a computer game over the course of a 24-hour period, initially struggled to gain funding due to its focus on female-led game development, organizer Helen Kennedy told the BBC.

"The whole idea of an all-female game jam is something I discussed a while ago," said Kennedy, who is also a founding member of the group Women in Games.

"I took the idea out to Canada and pitched it for funding and they told me it couldn't be done, the whole format of a game jam was somehow too masculine to be done with just women. I thought that was a rather challenging thing to say as I don't believe in those sorts of categorizations."

Within eight days of registration going live, XX Game Jam filled 40 spaces, and has a waiting list of an additional 40 participants despite skepticism from potential funders. Kennedy states that studios like Mind Candy, the makers of Moshi Monsters, and Maxis have helped to create games that appeal to both genders and have aided in changing the landscape of modern gamers.

Kennedy believes including more women on development teams could also help to change the landscape of games development, adding that while most women aren't opposed to the appearance of "sexy" characters in games, it's the creation of female characters as "victim or passive wall-dressing that you get that women find rather repellent."

The theme for this year's XX Game Jam was clockwork, with reference to female mathematician Ada Lovelace who is credited with being the world's first computer programmer based on her work in early computing during the 19th century.

The event ran from Oct. 26 to Oct. 27 during the London Games Festival.

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