Last Wednesday the White House hosted 20 girls aged 11-14 in a special Girls Make Games workshop in an effort to support women in game development and inspire girls to consider careers as game makers.
It was the first time a Girls Make Games game dev event has taken place in the White House, and that's kind of a big deal for a program that essentially began with a single tweet in 2014. At the end of the workshop all the participants walked away with a certificate, some chocolate (pictured), a prototype of their game and resources they could utilize to continue their game dev efforts.
The venture, spearheaded by LearnDistrict cofounder Leila Shabir, grew quickly and now encompasses a slew of game dev summer camps, workshops and other educational efforts around the world.
"It was incredibly inspiring for the girls to be at a venue like The White House - when you look at bodies of government you don't really imagine you'll be coding a game there some day, or that your passion for games would even matter to them (and by extension, the world)," Shabir told Gamasutra via email.
"Simply being there, making something together with peers from across the country (GMG alumni from 8 states attended!), and interacting with champions like Ruthe Farmer (WH Senior Policy Advisor for Tech Inclusion) and Erik Martin (Policy Advisor, Office of Science and Tech Policy) was sufficient validation. The 20 girls who attended have now gone back to their homes and schools and will continue to further inspire their friends and communities."
She went on to note that while it's unclear what the incoming U.S. administration's attitude towards game dev education (and computer science education in general) will be, the current administration's invitation to the White House was a significant event for the Girls Make Games team.
"I'm very grateful for the opportunities the Obama administration created for women and minorities," added Shabir. "This was my 3rd trip to the White House CSEdWeek, but by far the most meaningful, because I was able to share it with my girls and staff!"
The CSEdWeek Shabir is referring to is the Computer Science Education Week, an annual initiative to promote tech education. It's a global event, too; last week Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau made a show of support by creating his own game.