In front of a quintessentially Berlin half-abandoned train station, a number of young men and women slowly started queuing at the reception of a festival which the organisers called “the largest queer tech conference” in Europe: #Unit.
On April 16th I was there as well, representing King and speaking as a queer member of the tech community (and I must proudly add that King was a sponsor as well). I attended as a visitor too, listening to many of the interesting talks and participating in some of the workshops.
I was impressed; to give you an idea of the topics and energy at the conference I will mention a few:
- Female Leadership in the Digital Age, by Isabelle Hoyer
Agile teams, leading across continents, teamwork instead of top-down management: How does that work, which tools are useful and how do networks support it? Panel and discussion with women who lead, try, fail, experiment, and share their learnings.
- From Bitcoin to Smart Contracts: Reimagining the Future, by Brian Fabian Crain
While attention for block-chain, the technology underlying Bitcoin, has exploded, understanding the substance behind the hype is no easy task. This talk will explain how block-chains work and then dive into crazy possibilities ranging from automated companies to decentralized financial systems.
- HTTP/2.0 101 introduction (workshop), by Bastian Hofmann
A new version of the HTTP protocol has now been finalised and wide support in browsers and web servers is coming quickly. The workshop will explain how HTTP works in general and what you currently have to do to make your application as fast as possible. The speaker will show what HTTP/2.0 is all about, what it changes and how it helps your application’s performance
It was really energising to see so many people with diverse backgrounds coming together to talk about their jobs, passions, and of course commitment to diversity.
My talk was about games but very accessible and aimed at a diverse audience without any specific background. The title was Picasso, Africian Art, and Gender: Inclusivity in Video Games.
During the talk:
- I gave an overview of the gaming industry and its three main pillars (mobile, console, PC) to remind those less acquainted with our industry about how relevant we are these days.
- I then looked at inequality in two different areas:
- The games.
- We as developers.
- Speaking about diversity in games I addressed:
- Issues women face for how they are represented in game marketing and treated in game communities, and how society tends to drive them away from tech and gaming.
- LGBT characters and themes in games. These are not only extremely rare but when they appear, they are often very stereotyped.
- Non-white characters and cultures. Rare and often depicted in a stereotypical if not outright offensive way.
- Speaking about diversity within our developer community I spoke about:
- The lack of diversity within the game dev community, an issue which unfortunately most tech industries share.
- I did mention as well that things are improving but with a long road ahead.
- For a lesson, I looked at how Picasso drew inspiration from African art at a time in which westerners completely ignored it.
- I spoke about his friendship and rivalry with Matisse and how thanks to him he got to know West African sculpture and art.
- I described how Picasso had the vision to understand that against all mainstream perceptions of the time, African craft had important artistic lessons to teach.
- I described how gradually Picasso managed to experiment and absorb this style changing Western modern art forever.
- Closing, I observed how we, technology and media firms, can learn from Picasso and should be open to experimenting with content and ideas from minorities and other cultures.
The audience seemed to follow with interest and the room was filled so I got the feeling that the topic resonated quite positively. Later a few participants asked me about my experiences and about King; it felt really gratifying to trigger such interest and to start a positive debate.
Tech and consequently gaming still have a long way to go but events such as these are promising bright spots of how to make things better for everyone.
For more info on the event you can go here: http://www.unit-festival.com/