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Panel: “Getting down with the kids!”

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1From left to right: Toby Barnes, Rachel Bardill, Louise Ridgeway and Divinia Knowles

Chair : Divinia Knowles, Head Of Operations and Financial Controller, Mind Candy Ltd.
Panelists : Toby Barnes, Managing Director, Pixel Lab; Louise Ridgeway, Animation Supervisor, Rare Ltd; Rachel Bardill, Interactive Executive, CBBC

My Thoughts

A very interesting panel which diverges from the main topic for great reasons several times. I noted who said what for the most part (and it is accurate as far as I’m aware, it was pretty blunt in places :) ), and it most certainly overran so lots to read here.


DK: Moshi Monsters – tamagochi, facebook, MMO game. Massively popular for children – a huge explosion of games. Social networking is important, and a big part of Moshi Monsters. Also has stealth education via. fun puzzles.

DK – The Rise of Social gaming – club penguin launched 2005, Disney acquired them in 2007, $35 net profit. Children can talk to parents/grandparents, go around with your penguin and so forth. Large community – newspaper and so forth. 25,000 submissions per day for the newspaper!
RB – MyCBBC been in development for 2-3 years, people thought she was mad for proposing and doing it. She knew it was going to be big. A very simple application – you get a piece of CBBC, can personalise, can have a small set of friends, has presents, plugin games. High success, and allows some participation from the CBBC viewers. Create, Ship and continue developing.
LR – On Facebook, a large social community – allows keeping up with current friends, finding old friends. Going online while playing the game is important from this basis, such as sending presents over the net in Viva Pinata. Games are moving towards what women enjoy in games, which is having friends available and communication available. The computer game industry is moving so fast compared to other industries. The next generation will be more savvy about technology since before there was no option when people were growing up, now computers are everywhere. 11% of women in games, 40% playing games.
DK – Social networks are interesting. Widget thing allows showing off the game on social networks – word of mouth helps a lot.
TB – Social changes, 2 major ones for children. Viral nature of communication between them online, the second is more and more children playing games. Can collect people on facebook – it’s a game! Trevor Nelson doesn’t manage his own facebook profiles, a PR person does, so he’s not his friend really :)
Lego Star Wars by Jonathan Smith has made a brilliant kid-friendly game. Changed how you play the game – dying and cheating – why are games hard? why die a lot and fail a lot? Also adds co-op drop in and drop out for the second player. Adults can help for a bit. PMOG – passively multiplayer online game. It’s browser based, see certain websites, “playing your life” and collecting things. Everything is becoming more playable. Fitness – leveling up fitness without going to a boring gym would make a difference. Playability of life – “What is a game?” is such a large area. Broad spectrum, hard to classify which is a good thing.

DK – Where are the new opportunities in this (kids) section? Proportion of men to women in CBBC online bit?
RB – Controller of news came in, said it was all full of women, shit – female skewed department. 60-70/30 split in favour of women. Had to fight in the TV side, but much less so in the current department. Much more nurtured.
LR – Only women on the team when they started. Them and us, but love working with the guys. The minority of women sit together at lunch – don’t usually get the female company. When get 2 women in the department, need to change behaviours – don’t fart! :)
Totally different way interacting with the team – need the female input. Lots of specialisation’s in game jobs now too. Lots of opportunities now.
TB – Culture has changed massively over the last few years. Kelly Brook a while ago, then girlfriends and then kids in wooden hearts – the men grow up and their desktop wallpapers change. Crunching for 6 weeks or a month isn’t good. Now they have a family, they don’t want to work outrageous hours and so change the management culture.
DK – HR has stepped in, it is a recognised need for HR management, and the need to grow up the industry.
TB – Womens Hour was about getting more women into Physics/Electrical Engineering – 11% there. Simple thing is getting scientists going to schools to talk about science. People understand to make a film (which have a better skew of women), but not so much in games, as with physics and electrical engineering. Skillset are doing work on careers advice to get to talk about the games industry in school. Get into schools and educate about it. Up to about 12 both genders are about as interested in IT, but after that interest in IT drops for girls.
DK – Some school teaching how to make a game in primary school. Progressive work in the area.
TB – Games:EDU works with Universities, but going to schools can teach not just with games educationally, but teaching people how to make games, starting with pen and paper ones.
LR – Ambassadors for children from people in industry.
DK – Women in Media conference, and some local government work going on too.

Political interventions, to get more people into it now rather then waiting until the next generation. How can we put media female heroes to provide strong rolemodels for people?

RB – Girls generally follow boys (but not vice versa), pink doesn’t always work and making something that interests boys can interest girls too. Diversity across the board is important – Adventure Rock robots are both female and male and from various backgrounds.

Beyond pinking of things?

All – Oh yeah…
TB – Pink DS’s too obvious Nintendo thought. But the sales rocketed when a pink one was released. TV advertising is very terrible. Clearly Pink or Cool (guns, etc.).
LR – Likes explosions and shooting, not “Babies…and stuff” games. Girls are only just getting interested in better games.
TB – Marketing to them is crap. Pink clothes, even with a choice.
RB – Girls and girls, boys are boys. Give them a choice, since there are two distinct genders, even with the sets of grey.
DK – Community. In the game, the female staff member has started a leadership thing, because everyone is a monster it is a bit different.

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