Brock game jam series puts spotlight on motherhood

Brock University Assistant Professor Sarah Stang is on a mission to make video games accessible for everyone, especially mothers.

A gamer, game scholar and mother herself, Stang is organizing an innovative two-day workshop aiming to break through barriers that might prevent mothers from exploring their love for — or curiosity about — video games.

Hosted by Brock’s Department of Digital Humanities, the Mother of All Game Jams will take place Saturday, Feb. 24 and Sunday, Feb. 25 in the Rankin Family Pavilion at the University’s main campus.

It’s not often game jams — where participants try to make video games from scratch — carry the theme of motherhood and maternal identity, as mothers are often ignored by the video game industry, Stang said.

“Current research across Canada, the U.S. and U.K. exploring how many moms play video games shows that the average age of a gamer is 34, and that’s split 50/50 between men and women,” she said. “This surprises a lot of people.”

To help mothers participate in the event, Stang felt strongly about offering free child care on site for both facilitators and attendees.

“The game industry is not designed to be accessible for mothers, so offering free child care so moms can focus on their skills development is one way we are working to change the norm,” she said.

Incorporating themes of feminism and maternal identity, Stang said the event will be facilitated in a way that is inclusive, collaborative and accessible for beginners and is open to anyone curious about how to make a game or exploring a unique theme through interactive media.

“This game jam is all about praxis, combining theory and practice to create a supportive and fun environment where participants not only feel comfortable, but encouraged, to try new things,” Stang said.

The game jam is presented in collaboration with Brock Library’s Makerspace, where participants can also make traditional non-digital games, such as board or card games using 3D printing and laser cutting.

“We are very open to people coming with no experience in making any kind of game,” Stang said. “If you want to try, we will hold your hand.”

Everyone is welcome to attend the workshops. “You don’t have to be a mother and you don’t have to be a woman. You might identify as a trans-mother or queer-mother, or even just feel connected to maternal identity through care work. Or maybe you’re just generally interested in the topic,” she said.

The game jam will culminate in a series of showcases at the Brock Library and a public event on Mother’s Day weekend at the St. Catharines Public Library where workshop participants will be invited to share their experiences with the community.

The game jam is drop-in friendly and will include full catering for both days and free on-site child care provided by a certified Brock Education student. To register, please visit Eventbrite.

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