Many of today’s most popular computer games give the impression of being made for men, by men – but the vital and growing role played by women in researching and developing ground-breaking computer games will be explored at a major conference to be hosted by the University of Wales, Newport.

“We are delighted to be hosting the prestigious annual Women In Games Conference,” said Emma Westecott, one of the team researching computer games at the University’s Synergy research lab at the International Film School Wales (IFSW).

“The event was created as a forum to discuss a wide range of issues relating to women in games and to help develop ways of engaging girls and women in science and technology.”

This year’s conference, entitled ‘Aesthetics in Play: new platforms, new perspectives, new players’, will be held from 19th – 21st April, and will feature leading speakers from the games industry talking on a range of topics including games as an emergent art form and methods of encouraging diversity in games.

“The conference will highlight the importance of women as designers and consumers of computer games and draw attention to the contributions women bring to the game industry,” added Emma, who achieved international recognition for her work with the creator of ‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, the late Douglas Adams, as producer of his best-selling computer adventure game, ‘Starship Titanic’.

Emma, who has worked in the computer game industry for over ten years, producing and programming games as well as lecturing in game design internationally, is a key member of the Synergy research team, an interdisciplinary collective of artists, practitioners, and theorists investigating the relationship between computer games and art.

United by a common desire to explore in-depth the artistic potential of contemporary digital games design, the Synergy team aims to extend the reach of game form to a wider audience, with the aim of initiating and conducting novel and innovative research that explores and shares new visions of computer games and game play.

“Although the Women in Games conference is concerned with women and games it’s important to emphasise that men are very welcome as the industry needs a meaningful dialogue between the sexes if it is to move forward, ” added Emma.

Keynote speakers at the conference include Sharon Knight, Vice President & General Manager of Europe Online Electronic Arts; Alice Taylor, Vice President of Digital Content at the BBC, who is currently involved in interactive entertainment formats; Karen Wilkins-Mickey, Microsoft Corporation’s Diversity Staffing Program Manager; Dr Mary Flanagan, Associate Professor and Director of Tiltfactor Laboratory which researches and develops computer games to teach science and maths to young people; and Raina Lee, publisher and editor of 1-Up MegaZine, the first hand-made art journal devoted to game culture and criticism.

[tags]women in games, female gamer, game conference, gaming conference[/tags]