Amplifying New Voices workshop teaches a variety of game talents how to lead and speak
Amplifying New Voices will take place on Sunday as a one-day skills and representation workshop prior to the Game Developers Conference. It is aimed at underrepresented people in the gaming community.
The sixth annual event brings together veterans with new voices in the gaming industry to prepare a new generation of speakers and presenters. It provides early or mid-career training for developers so they can present their game or company professionally to their peers, audiences, and/or the media.
As the gaming industry becomes more diverse, gaming conferences need to reflect that diversity. But all too often the same old speakers appear on the stage, and there are few women or people of color speaking or even willing to speak. This is what Amplifying New Voices is set to change,” said Meggan Scavio, president of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (AIAS), in an interview with GamesBeat.
The AIAS Foundation organized this event with donations from the GDC, which is offering space and AV assistance to cover the cost of the event. AIAS is also raising more money from other sponsors to help members fly out from all over the world. This year’s sponsors are Microsoft, Sony, Supercell and Electronic Arts.
Amplifying New Voices was founded by industry veterans Perrin Kaplan, Zebra Partners; Robin Hunicke formerly of Funomena; Caryl Shaw of Double Fine Productions; Brandi House, formerly of Meta’s Oculus; and Sibel Sunar, head of public relations for Fortyseven. Scavio said the group came together after GamerGate when it became clear that spinning off different game developers could benefit everyone in the industry with more knowledge about who makes the games we love to play.
“This was our opportunity to try to solve the problem of representation in games and really show the world who makes games and not just the people we put forward,” Scavio said. “We are empowering underrepresented game developers to become part of the next generation of games.”
I agree with the group’s approach to teaching people how to be storytellers. For a long time, I’ve been trying to find the most outstanding CEOs I could find to speak at our GamesBeat Summit events. But it turned out that many of them refrained from speaking frankly due to various corporate restrictions. And it turned out that focusing on anyone who was a good storyteller could lead to both better speakers and a more diverse selection of people.
This year, applicants came from all over the world, from top-notch studios as well as independent game studios. Past applications have come from all over, and the applications have often been varied. Ren Brier, creator of the popular indie game Unpacking, has been through the program.
Scavio said the training focuses on how to become a good public speaker, as well as skills like writing a bio in a way that will help you get selected as a public speaker. According to Scavio, too many people are too modest when compiling a biography.
The program is a full-day hands-on training and coaching workshop for candidates who demonstrate high potential as new voices, with the goal of creating outstanding, active role models for underrepresented groups and viewpoints. He also trains them in personal and professional PR and improves their public speaking and presentation skills. They teach them, for example, how to interview Dean Takahashi and not get scared.
All professional assistants are volunteers and the environment is supportive. ANV is accepting about 36 people from a pool of applications, perhaps around 150 applicants. The ultimate goal is to normalize diversity in games.
“This is a passionate project for all of us,” Scavio said. “I love amplifying voices so much that I really want to talk about it all day.”
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