Introducing more women to gaming - The Difference Engine

Hey girls, have you ever thought about creating your own video game? Last night the Centre for Social Innovation hosted the second round of the Difference Engine, a six-week game making incubation for women. Most of these women had never attempted to create their own videogame before – let alone in six weeks!  The gaming industry is huge in Canada, employing over 16,000 people. It’s expected to increase by 17% per year over the next two years, generating almost 6,000 new job opportunities. Canada is the third largest video game industry in the world and contributes $1.7 billion to the Canadian economy alone!

So what is The Difference Engine and can I play the games?

I’m glad you asked! The Difference Engine is designed to get more women into gaming as well as help under-represented groups have a voice in the gaming community. It’s also about diversification as there’s more to games than you’d think. Did you know the video game industry extends highly into industries such as medicine ? Doctors are even using Xbox Kinect technology to assist in surgeries! The Difference Engine is run by Toronto’s Hand Eye Society, who mesh the city’s gaming communities together. It was named after Ada Lovelace, considered the world’s first computer programmer.

To date, 12 women have created their own games through the initiative from unicorn fighting to the Kreayshawn Game, which took the Internet by storm and was all the rage on the Twitterverse! This game was created by Beth Maher, an illustrator who was inspired by the catchy, colourful video for Kreayshawn’s track “Gucci Gucci.” The best part is you can play it and all of the games from the first round here. The second round games will be posted online soon!

You’ll be able to play all of the games and listen to women speak about gaming at the Women In Film, Games and New Media conference happening Dec 9 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Entry is $30 for students.

Games are fun but will they make me money?

The Entertainment Software Association of Canada found that the average salary in the Canadian video game sector is $62,000 per year versus $29,000 in the rest of the Canadian economy. By 2013, every game company in Canada is expected to hire an average of eight new grads. Big companies are expected to hire up to 26 new grads per year! The industry already consists of a majority of young employees.

Okay, I want to make a game! Where can I start?

Multiple online platforms can help you learn to create your own games. Start with something like Sploder then work your way towards learning detailed programming. Numerous college and university programs focus on video game design in Canada! Here’s a list to help get you started.

Facts about Canada’s video game industry:

  • There are 348 video game companies in Canada, 60% are hiring right now and 77% said they’d be hiring by 2013.
  • Almost all video game jobs are in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.
  • Quebec is the hot video game province, housing half of all video game jobs in Canada. Most of these come from large game companies and are based around consoles.
  • Ontario is home to the majority of micro and small video game companies in Canada with an emphasis on mobile, social and casual video game platforms. It is the fastest growing video game province.
  • Did you know the average age of Canadian gamers is 33? A gamer is considered anyone who has played a computer or video game in the past four weeks.
  • Male teen gamers like shooter games, action/adventure, sports and fighting.
  • Female teen gamers like music-based games, strategy or role playing, racing games, and card, puzzle, arcade and word games.
  • Almost half of all Canadians play video games multiple times a week…we’re a nation of gamers!

Check out these career options and education programs!


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