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Girl Power: A Female’s Guide to Becoming an Indie Game Designer

On 10 March, as part of International Woman’s Day, Sony announced the installation of their Girls Make Games Summer Camp, dedicated to increasing female representation in the gaming industry. According to a study published in 2014, 52% of gamers are women. However, this does not mirror the number of female game developers in the industry. Gaming, a 41.5 billion-dollar industry, is dominated by men and this is reflected through their games. A lack of females in the industry has also led to a lack of female protagonists and an increase of male masculinity in mainstream video games. So, girls, are you ready to break the stereotype? Here are some tips on becoming an indie game designer.

Choose Your Developer and Software: You can build your skills by attending game design schools and diving into essential game programming classes such as C++ or Objective C. However, nowadays you don’t need schooling or the backing of an established company to be successful at game design and development. Indie, or independent, games are making huge impacts in the gaming industry. You can team up with a friend that can program the game and use software such as Game Maker, Adventure Game Studio, or BlitxMax. You don’t even need to drop a bunch of money to buy the software. Simply come up with a game idea, work with your developer, and spit out your creation.

Channel your Frustration into a Great Game: Some of the best game developers are those that take their frustrations with the industry and channel it into their video games. If you see it as a lack in the industry, so will most players. Brainstorm why you don’t like certain games and how you could improve on those issues. If you want to become a game designer in this male-dominated industry, you will be able to see problems that many other designers don’t, and provide a perspective that the industry doesn’t currently have. Through this brainstorming, you will be able to design a game that fulfils a niche within the industry.

Designing Your Story: Most people starting out stick to a well-known genre such as platformers or puzzlers. Figure out the theme of your story which comes down to characters, world development, conversations, plot, and the end goal of your story. Design the puzzles and difficulty level on the game as well. Making it easily accessible to everyone is a great way to get more people playing, so you may want to start with a game with a low difficulty level. Also, include subtitles or color blindness mode, to allow everyone the ability to play. Once all these come together, you can work with graphic artists to make the characters come to life and your developer to put your ideas into the game world.

Advertising: The most important aspect is advertising your game to the right media. Post about yourself and your game, leading up to the game’s release on different social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, and on multiple gaming sites. Also, reach out to reputable game reviewing sites to ask them to review your game. They will gladly do it for free, if you provide them with a copy of your game. Pick review sites that are Metacritic approved, as this will give you the most visibility and free advertising.

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