Our first year has been a relatively quiet one. There are obvious reasons like demanding day jobs and making humans and what not, but then there are less obvious reasons like trying to see what we want Widget to become, the directions we want to go in, the things we want to try and achieve. That’s something we still need to nail down, and will be having meetings about soon to try and sort out. But until then, on this one year anniversary of Widget, International Women’s Day, let’s have a look at what we’ve done so far!
Widget’s first year was focussed on sharing women’s wisdom with other women. Good old fashioned blogging. The brief was usually to use these questions as jumping points: “What do you wish someone told you ages ago?”, “What do you want to share with women you think they should know?” or “What was a turning point in your thinking about your craft”. But they ended up being anything from a basic overview of different software or coverage of events. This is the blessing of not really knowing what we were out to achieve yet, we had a nice broad spectrum of advice and wisdom to share.
We’ve had 30 articles and roundups on the site in the first year, which was the maximum we could really afford given we have funded from our pockets. We don’t pay anywhere near enough the standard rate for 500-800 words (especially considering some of our generous contributors smashed that wordcount out of the park) but it was something that both Liah and I were really passionate about doing. Women’s voices need to be heard, and women need to hear their voices have value. It would be hypocritical to talk about the gender pay gap or advising against women working for free when we don’t pay contributors ourselves.
Elizabeth Boylan wrote “Gaming is Creative Freedom” to explain how her love for games informed the kind of mother she wanted to be, that focusing on choices and interactivity made her realise what she wanted to give her daughter the most — choices. In “Waiting To Create” Miellyn Fitzwater-Barrows shared her top tips for creatives at work. Meghann O’Neill was a good friend scouting writing software for games for us so we didn’t have to, dropping breadcrumbs in “Do-It-Yourself Answers” where she had a quick look at Twine, Storynexus and The Dragon Age Toolset. Cleo Wittingham wrote in “Share the knowledge, spread the love” of the importance of sharing women’s wisdom and looking after each other (total loveattack there!) and also shared some of her personal experiences with the overlap between traditional screenwriting and writing for games in “Screenplay The Game”. Karin Weekes had some great advice about doing That Thing You Love as a full time job in “Listen and Engage”, and reminded us sometimes we only get “15 Minutes To Be A Special Snowflake” and then we have to roll up our sleeves and get back to work. Camila Fisher shared her creative processes with us with the hopes of helping us find ours, and also shared a piece on when you have to count on creativity on demand instead of waiting for inspiration to strike. Amy Phillips talked about the struggles of finding that Work/Life Balance as a working parent, and Leena cried and cried and cried.
Caitlin L. Conner gave us some frank advice on surviving in a male dominated field, in “Clench Your Toes and Plan for the Future”, specifically sharing methods for dealing with Shit Hitting The Fan. Malin Lövenberg amazingly condensed her thesis to just over a thousand words (no small feat!) to share with us an exploration of Male Sexualisation in Videogames and also covered the Gotland Game Conference for us in her post “Creating Equal Spaces”. Rebecca Fernandez gave her personal advice on Overcoming Imposter Syndrome, a vary familiar ailment among makers, whether they’re veterans or emerging practitioners. Emma Boyes gave her advice for making games more female friendly, and Cat Musgrove gave us the skinny on going from AAA to indie.
Claire Hosking allowed us to republish her great blog post from Tumblr about BOOBS, which then informed Jenn Frank’s #boobjam, and Alison Harvey gave us a really generous roundup of the Different Games Conference in Brooklyn, a conference with the best Code of Conduct we’ve ever seen. Christy Dena very generously acted as a tour guide to places that don’t yet exist, discussing how we as women navigate map-less spaces in our changing crafts, preparing for jobs that aren’t fully actualised yet! And lastly, Meghann O’Neill again generously dipped toe into the Global Game Jam and sound design and shared some of the things she learned during that experience.
We’re immensely proud of all the amazing words our contributors have shared with us, so we could share them with you. Hopefully this women’s wisdom has helped other women in some way, and we’d love to hear about it if it has! While the blog posts have been great, unfortunately the funding model (lol) is unsustainable. Which is why the blog aspect of Widget has slowed down a bit. In the following year we hope to be putting together a handbook to help women developers deal with toxic spaces online, probably have a site re-design (more riotgrrl less Grammar Girl), organise some Proper Funding™ (insofar as having some at all), and start our first official Widget events. At the moment we would like to hold workshops (on Twine, branching narratives, Unity, organisation and public speaking, if there’s interest), exhibitions of kick ass stuff made by women (one university has already asked us if we can organise one!), and some live group mentoring. We’d love to hear what you want out of a local women’s support group for developers. You can email Leena at Leena [at] widgetau.org for the games type stuff or Liah at Liah [at] widgetau.org for the IT type stuff (or both at info [at] widgetau.org) and give us your suggestions or requests. We want to make a place where you can feel safe, nurtured, educated, and helped professionally. To do that properly it’s absolutely essential that we are open to your feedback.
We’re really pumped about 2014, and with your help we can totally blow the “Two Years On” blog post right out of the water!
(Correction: I originally stated Claire Hosking’s Tumblr post was riffing on #boobjam but it was actually the other way around, apologies for the mix up)