From December 6 to December 8, 2019, developers, funders, and fans alike flocked to the convention center in Philadelphia, PA for three days of dice rolls, panel discussions, and high-octane fun.
PAX Unplugged is the analog gaming edition of the Penny Arcade Expo series. “PAX” refers to a collection of games conventions founded by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, authors of the popular web comic Penny Arcade. Held each year in Seattle, Boston, Melbourne, Philadelphia, and San Antonio, these conventions are an opportunity for celebration, new releases, demonstrations, and discussion surrounding the rapidly evolving world of gaming.
The game development world is changing. And it’s changing for the better.
At PAX Unplugged, held in Philadelphia from December 6-8, developers and fans alike gathered for a weekend of celebrating one of our favorite pastimes: analog board games. The atmosphere at this convention was different from others I’ve been to in the past. The excitement was there, of course, as was the kid-in-a-candy-shop feeling that permeated the Expo Hall, but there was an edge to the proceedings that I haven’t felt before, a conversation that started a few years ago and is turning into one of the most compelling threads in game development today.
For generations, games were seen as something of a “boy’s club,” an industry dominated by white, male players consuming games and media designed by white, male-dominated studios. While there is still much work to be done in this arena, progress is on its way.
On October 17th, 2019, the Women’s Foundation of California (WFoC) celebrated its fortieth anniversary with a major announcement: the organization pledged $40 million to gender justice, and began its groundbreaking campaign to raise the funds to facilitate another forty years of gender justice grantmaking.
Less than a month later, the WFoC is more than halfway to its goal of $40 million. This stunning fundraising effort is the result of a steadfast community of donors, supporters, and activists, which the Foundation has built over forty years of campaigning for social change.
The annual Women in Games European Conference kicked off in London on September 11, facilitating a conversation the games development industry has been itching to have since 2014.
Sexual harassment, assault, and unhealthy work environments for women, nonbinary individuals, and other marginalized communities are all far too common in gamedev. In recent years, allegations of harassment and assault have come to light, leading to major restructuring decisions from games industry giants like news sources Polygon and IGN, and developer Bethesda.
On August 20, 2019, an initiative to connect and catalyst the field of giving circles announced their intention to donate $32,000 to collective giving organizations. The funds, distributed in thirteen microgrants ranging from $500 to $5,000, will go toward circles and networks that “showcase, scale, strengthen, and sustain the field of collective giving.
This initiative is born out of a yearlong co-design process spearheaded by the organizations Amplifier, Asian Women’s Giving Circle, Catalist, Community Investment Network, and Latino Community Foundation.
Members of the feminist giving community: An upcoming webinar co-led by Helen LaKelly Hunt could be the perfect opportunity to learn some new skills for healthier relationships.
Relationships First and the Center for Partnership Studies (CPS) are joining forces next month for Safe Conversations: Shifting from Domination to Partnership in Relationship. Held 11:00 – 12:30 PR (2:00 – 3:30 ET) on Thursday, September 12th, 2019, this FREE webinar focuses on the ways people can improve their relationships through quality communication skills.
The Tegan and Sara Foundation, founded by the eponymous indie/folk/pop musical duo, has partnered with shoemaker Teva to launch a limited-edition, multi-colored sandal to support the LGBTQ+ community. The elevated rainbow sandal celebrates Pride Month, and Teva will donate a portion of sales to the Tegan and Sara Foundation (TSF).
TSF “fights for health, economic justice and representation for LGBTQ girls and women.” Launched in 2016 on a commitment to feminism and racial, social and gender justice, TSF is in solidarity with other organizations fighting for LGBTQ and women’s rights. The Foundation raises awareness and funds to address the inequalities currently preventing LGBTQ girls and women from reaching their full potential.
The 23-person field vying for the Democratic nomination for president includes six women: Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard and Marianne Williamson. Two of them (Harris and Warren) are seen as having decent odds of taking the nomination, while Klobuchar is a potential dark horse.
But will these women be torpedoed by press coverage that holds them to a different standard than their male counterparts? The women’s advocacy organization UltraViolet Action says that is a very real danger, and decries the sexist coverage so far exhibited by the mainstream media.
Here’s some good news for global feminist donors, particularly those focused on giving for LGBTQ issues. The Thomson Reuters Foundation – the charitable arm of the global news and information provider – has won funding for more media reporting on marginalized populations, as an award from the People’s Postcode Lottery, a UK-based organization that devotes “a minimum of 32% from each subscription” to charities and causes in Great Britain and around the globe.
The Foundation has received a £400,000 ($523,560 US Dollars) grant from the Postcode Heroes Trust, to expand its reporting on social justice issues related to labor and sex trafficking and other forms of modern slavery, as well as LGBTQ rights. These funds will be particularly focused on increasing media coverage of these topics in Southeast Asia and Eastern Africa.
The NoVo Foundation is one of the largest private foundations to advocate for gender equality and has specifically focused much of its funding on reducing violence against girls and women globally. In their most recent initiative, the Radical Hope Fund, the foundation donated $34 million in grants to 19 different organizations around the world.
The Radical Hope Fund began as a response to the 2016 election. Seeing the increase in attacks on women and girls as well as LGBTQ populations, immigrants, people of color, and refugees, the foundation felt compelled to take action in a new, bolder way. Thus, the Radical Hope Fund was born, initially pledging to donate $20 million to selected grantees, but eventually deciding to deepen that commitment to $34 million.
As Executive Director Pamela Shifman explains, “It’s an experiment — one that seeks to support new collaborations that are imaginative and focused on building the movements we need, not simply what we think is possible right now. Radical Hope aims for transformation rather than solely incremental change.”
Since inception in 2006, the NoVo Foundation has emphasized the way in which systemic change needs to evolve out of the communities affected by the problem. The NoVo Foundation reviewed over 1,000 applications to find the 19 best candidates for this new funding, particularly looking for organizations that are community-based and that bring transformational strategies to the table.
To help the public learn more about this new approach to grantmaking, NoVo also launched the Radical Hope Blog Series. This will allow partners of NoVo’s Radical Hope grantmaking to document their work, share what they have learned, and grow their audiences and support teams.
The 19 grantees NoVo selected all have strong agendas, and many have already accomplished significant work for women. One of these is the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), a grant-making foundation that works to support women and women’s organizations in Africa, moving closer to gender equality in the process. The mission of AWDF is guided by five main values: Respect: A basic respect for human rights of all African women; Diversity: An allegiance to non-discrimination and inclusiveness; Feminist Leadership: A dedication to upholding feminist principles and ethics; Professionalism, Accountability and Stewardship: A commitment to be transparent and prudent in administering funds; and Solidarity and Partnerships: A determination to link with other organizations to effect change.
AWDF’s initiative, the Flourish Project, for which they received $985,090, will strengthen feminist movements across Africa. Over the next three years, the Flourish Project plans to accomplish several goals. These goals include inspiring the next generation to be strong proponents of feminism. The initiative also plans to collaborate with AIR, an African professional network addressing trauma and mental health, to implement a pilot model that will allow stressed African feminist leaders to take leave to reflect and heal. The Flourish Project will also work on making connections between feminist activists and organizations working locally and nationally with the African Feminist Forum.
Another grantee is Masimanyane Women’s Rights International, a social justice organization working on gender equality and rights for women on local, regional, and international levels. This organization has worked for over 20 years to make allies in the movement for gender equality across the globe. Much of their work is focused on decreasing crimes against women and girls, providing support to survivors of violence, and helping women affected by HIV and AIDS.
Masimanyane’s project receiving support from the Radical Hope Fund is called International Network to End Violence Against Women and Girls. Novo’s grant will allow this program to continue and grow as it works alongside other organizations to increase awareness and about the problem of violence against women and girls. INEVAWG identifies failing state accountability as a major contributor to violence against women and will work with government systems to help address this failure. The project will also continue advocacy to increase society’s understanding of violence against women and other crucial issues of women’s well-being.
These two organizations, as well as Novo’s other grantee partners for Radical Hope, have done impressive work for women globally. The grantee partners appear to have clear missions and are taking many creative paths leading toward accomplishing those missions. Many of the grantee organizations also have strong connections with other partners and a commitment to core feminist values like diversity and transparency.