Even though there are plenty of women playing games, there aren’t enough women making them. According to the ESA, a whopping 47-percent of game players in the US are women. In the past month though, just one of the top ten best selling console games in the US featured a woman in the lead, and the feminist merits of Tomb Raider are still a topic of much debate. One of the obvious means for this to change is for more women to develop games, something many publishers like Sony are encouraging in order to expand the industry. But if more women are going to start making video games, then they need to be encouraged to learn how to do so. Women in Games International and the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles have a pretty keen idea on how to make that happen: do it the old-fashioned way and give away a merit badge for game design.
Or a merit patch, as the case is with the Girl Scout’s new program. The new game design patch will be given to scouts that make their own game. It’s another new initiative in the Girl Scouts’ Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) related activities.
“Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles has worked with WIGI in the past to bring STEM programs to Girl Scouts at some of GSGLA’s signature events like Girltopia,” GSGLA’s Carol Dedrich explains to Digital Trends, “Both of our organizations are very interested in exposing girls to women role models in STEM careers. The national Girl Scout Research Institute conducted a study in 2012 which found that while a majority of today’s girls are interested in STEM activities and excel at STEM curriculum, they continuously opt out of STEM careers due to a lack of knowledge about these fields. A large percentage of girls also still feel they would need to work harder than a man in order to excel in STEM careers. This patch program will both give girls video game design skills while exposing them to women working in various roles in the video game industry.”
The patch encourages not just STEM pursuits, but also adds to the growing number of technology related badges currently offered by the Girl Scouts of America, like Digital Moveimaker, Website Designer, and even Netiquette, for online behavioral skills. While Girl Scouts everywhere in the U.S. can earn those badges, only the Greater Los Angeles area is pursuing game design at the moment.
“It’s really a pilot program, in that both the WIGI and GSGLA hope it will inspire other Girl Scout councils across the nation to partner with local WIGI chapters to develop similar programs,” says Dedrich. The ultimate goal to make game design yet another standard proficiency patch.
Who these new game making scouts will be working with has yet to be determined. Dedrich said that both WIGI and the GSGLA are trying to lock down what the curriculum will include and who will actually sponsor the workshops the girls learn in. There are a huge number of game companies in the Los Angeles area though, including EA and Square-Enix. It’s also home to USC’s game design program, the leading academic game design program in the country that’s responsible for turning out creators like Jenova Chen (Journey, Flower). If nothing else, there’s a thriving community of potential sponsors.