Culture | Date published: 10.6.2020

Girls Make Games 2020 Recap

GMG Summer Camp Goes Virtual
Girls Make Games 2020 Recap

Girls Make Games (GMG) is a series of summer camps and workshops designed to address the gender gap in the games industry and inspire the next generation of designers, creators, and engineers. This is the fourth year that PlayStation has sponsored GMG’s summer program. In the following post, co-Founder and CEO of GMG, Laila Shabir, shares how GMG Summer Camp shifted to a virtual format and highlights this year’s Demo Day finalists.

Going virtual

When it became clear that we needed to move the GMG Summer Camp online this year, we recognized that we had limited experience with remote learning. We ran focus groups and tested two main elements of our curriculum – community building and game development.

Based on feedback from the focus groups, we reviewed our curriculum and approached it from the lens of accessibility and simplicity. We decided to split camp up by age groups – creating ‘GMG Virtual’ for ages 13-18 and a new free, experimental program called ‘GMG Junior’ for girls ages 8-12. We also picked a more accessible game engine called “Construct 3” which works in web browsers so that campers who only had access to Chromebooks or smartphones could still be able to join us.

Creativity knows no boundaries

I’m always blown away by the creativity of our campers and this year was no exception. The variety of the protagonists in the demos was astounding, especially since we didn’t implement our traditional team format. Individual campers created everything from a game about a cow trying to escape a farm because his best friend was turned into a hamburger, to a white shark that wants to teach you about the environment! We met wizard lizards, amnesiac ghosts, and Yellowleg birds. 

This year’s projects were a unique challenge as our campers took on the task of creating a game entirely by themselves. But that’s what makes their accomplishments even more impressive! All the games represent incredible work by these young developers, and we’re so proud of each and every one of them.

Play the GMG Virtual finalist entries here.

Girls Make Games 2020 Recap

This year we decided to do things a bit differently with the Grand Prize, too. In the past, we would fly five teams out to the Bay Area to be finalists in a nationwide competition. A panel of industry veterans would judge the teams’ projects, with the grand prize winner getting their game fully developed and published by GMG (See previous Demo Day Winners here)

Of course this year was a bit different. For our teen campers, 10 solo projects were selected from all those submitted and our judges narrowed that down to a top 3.

GMG Virtual Grand Prize Winners:

Our GMG Jr. group submitted game concepts, and 5 of these won the GMG Jr. Grand Prize. Read the Jr. winning submissions here.

GMG Jr. Grand Prize Winners:

  • Happy Energy by Cate E.
  • Twiggy and the Evil Radish by Elizabeth C.
  • Portal Skater by Paige J.
  • Marshmallow’s Mysteries by Addie B.
  • Virus Attack! by Seraphina S.

You can watch the entirety of the 2020 Girls Make Games Demo Day here:

Girls Make Games 2020 Recap

Building community with virtual tools

Both programs exceeded our expectations this year. We had a whole ‘command center’ set up at GMG and it was amazing to see our campers play, learn from developers, and make new friends over the two weeks of camp on two different coasts. For the first time since launching GMG I was able to meet and spend time with every camp participant!

The virtual format also opened the program up to kids who might not have been able to come to in-person camp because a GMG camp didn’t exist in their hometown. One of the things about camp that really surprised me was how normal everything seemed even being remote. The kids made friends and connected easily with each other. We know they walked away from this experience feeling empowered to continue to build community in their own hometowns.

On the heels of the success of our virtual summer program, we are proud to bring virtual workshops to all kids around the world.

For the first time ever, GMG workshops will offer both all-girls and co-ed options to families.

By expanding the program’s mission to include all kids, our virtual workshops aim to reach kids of all genders at a time when they are starved for opportunities to learn outside the classroom, to make friends, and to express themselves creatively. Registration is now live on GirlsMakeGames.com

We are immensely grateful to our community and industry partners for their support over the years, but especially this year. We can’t wait to bring the program to kids everywhere and with our new virtual offerings, I believe we’re getting closer to the goal than ever before.

While I’m truly inspired and energized by the potential of GMG’s digital reach, I cannot rest with the belief that our work is done. Nearly 12 million kids in the US are missing school without access to broadband, and we absolutely cannot leave them behind. My team’s next big challenge is finding creative solutions for those kids who are missing out on an education while sheltering in place. If you or someone you know is working on the intersection of tech and educational access, please reach out to us at info@girlsmakegames.com