As we mark the end of Women’s History Month, it’s great to be able to showcase those current day role models who are driving for change and making an impact in Scotland. Those unsung heroines who often are volunteers leading with passion and a vision to move the needle on gender balance in our tech sector.
Heart of Midlothian Football Club have recently delivered a programme, ‘Gaming for Good’ over a 3-month period from Jan-Mar 2022.
Gaming for Good is their video game club at Heart of Midlothian Innovation Centre. Over an 8-week block, young people are introduced to the intricacies of video game design and production, culminating in a video game extravaganza where they have the chance to play each other’s games and feedback on their experiences. Over the 8 weeks, attendees interacted with people working in the video game industry and had the chance to relate what they’re learning in the club with real-life video game development. They have met developers, writers, CEOs, artists, composers, and all types of video game enthusiasts! 40 young people from S1 to S3 have already completed the programme, with the next block dedicated exclusively to girls, starting in April. Here’s what some of the remarkable volunteers said;
“Highlighting role models to young people is so powerful in showing them that being interested in and working in technology is an option for them. Having the representation of a diverse group of role models through mentors and speakers at clubs like Gaming for Good lets our young people connect to what we’re talking about on a much deeper level. Role models bring their voice, experience and background to the sessions and let all young people see the world through a different lens from their own, highlighting that we’re all different and that should be seen as a good thing, not a barrier, especially when it comes to what we are allowed to be passionate about! I love talking to young people about my journey into technology and the more journeys and stories that they hear about really highlights to them that the options are endless, especially in a field like tech where things are always moving and changing. That’s where our games club really brings the subject to life through letting young people talk to experts in the field whilst we explore behind the scenes of some of our favourite video games and put that into action by using our own voices and stories to create our own games.” Tanya Howden, Gaming for Good Programme designer, Creative Technologist
"During high school, one of my favourite courses was Informatics. We covered topics from building a PC to building websites to building games. I had no idea at the time that this favourite subject could lead to a career path that suited me so well. I had been told more than once that I wasn't able to study Computer Science at University because I wasn't that good at maths and physics and it wasn't something for girls. Even in my twenties I was talking to some people at work about changing my career path into Data Analysis or Software Development. Again I was told that it was too hard to do and that I was too late. One day after all those nay-sayers, I decided to stop listening to what other people told me I couldn't do and did it! I saved up my money and I went to study software development at CodeClan, a Bootcamp that aims to up-skill and change people's careers into the direction of Software Development and/or Data Analysis. The best decision of my life! Now at 31, I am a Senior Developer at Social Security Scotland. I wish I could tell my younger self that I was more than capable to go study Computer Science and convince myself it wasn't just a man's world or for people that were geniuses at maths and physics. Since I don't have a time machine to tell my younger self, I've decided to dedicate time after work to volunteering at several of the amazing clubs that Heart of Midlothian runs to help the new generations figure out that Computer Science is super cool and show them that this awesome subject can be the start of a rewarding and exciting career for them. Turn that Nay into a Yay!" Diane Jonker - Gaming for Good Volunteer and Senior Developer
“Our goal at the Innovation Centre is to make digital education available to all and our Gaming for Good programme has been a way for us to highlight the more creative elements of the tech industry. Each week we met online to explore different aspects of the video game industry while working on building our own video games. We have introduced our attendees to a host of positive women working within the video games industry, from developers, to musicians, artists and writers. We were able to give attendees full insight into the industry thanks to the generosity of volunteers keen to share their stories and experiences. We want girls to know that there is plenty of space for them within the tech industry and that there is no single path into tech. We embrace mistakes as opportunities for growth and learning, and give them a space to experiment with their own creativity and a platform to express their own ideas. Seeing young people develop their games from simple ideas into completed projects - watching their creativity come to life and seeing them grow in confidence has been the absolute highlight of our programme.” Dr Kelly Gardner - Digital Education Programme Manager for Heart of Midlothian FC Innovation Centre
And if that’s not got you excited about this programme, then here’s some quotes from the last cohort of attendees;
My favourite part of this club has been designing my own characters and stories. I thought coding would be boring but I have seen that there is still so much creativity and that I don’t need to be good at coding to build a proper game.
This club has made me realise how many different jobs there are in the video games industry and that there are so many different types of games companies, I feel more confident now about looking for a job in video games.
My favourite thing about this club was seeing what everyone else was doing and getting to play the other games. I met new friends and enjoyed taking part in the weekly championship and following along as everyone developed their games!
Before I started the club I didn’t think I would want a job in the tech sector because I thought it would be boring and that I would be looking at a screen with numbers all day, but this club made me see how fun tech jobs can be and now I want to keep studying coding at school and maybe work in the games industry.
If you want to get involved please email email@example.com for more information.