Next Level is a Ufi VocTech-supported project that’s training working class women of colour in Sheffield how to make games using relatable role models and accessible technology.
There are fewer women, people of colour, people from deprived backgrounds and people with disabilities in the games industry than amongst the public and players. This is despite the fact that more young people play videogames than have a social media account (Ofcom 2019). There are no demographic, class, economic, racial siloes for games players aged 16-25 but there are for the people that make games.
One way that we decided to tackle this very intractable problem was to train a cohort of working class young women of colour from our local community to use accessible tools to create and publish games.
We know we have to tackle technology poverty, lack of safe places to learn, low skills levels, poor confidence and mental health challenges, and the lack of positive role models.
So we chose a games development technology – Crayta – which is accessible from mobile phones in everyone’s pockets. We’re running courses in the safe space of our workshop in the National Videogame Museum which we have kitted out to help learners. We are using an experiential, learn by doing model that requires no base level of skills. Learners will progress by working in teams to create things on a course with no wrong answers.
We are bringing in relatable role models from the games sector so learners can ‘See it and you can be it’. And our course will be facilitated by a young woman of colour, a long-time collaborator with the charity. Finally we will highlight career pathways and development opportunities for our learners.