FuturePlay Exchange, held during the Edinburgh Festival, was an amazing forum to discuss the influence of tech on the arts, whether it’s performing arts or making video games.
The event covered ground on artists making art using VR through to user-influenced narratives through social media input. Whether experimenting with facial expression recognition or exploring the influence of tech for festival organisation, FuturePlay Exchange brought delegates together to share how to leverage tech in their projects.
Two sessions really stood out. The first one discussing the usage of data in the performing arts world. Discussing questions on “How is data used to foster insight and engagement?” it became clear that it is paramount to never cross the line at which data turns from being useful to being creepy. The second one opened up on the gender gap in the gaming industry and highlighted the deep running beer and pizza culture vs. more diverse work environments producing more inclusive gaming experiences.
Here’s a look at each in more detail…
UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE: USING DATA FOR INSIGHT AND ENGAGEMENT
The data available to be captured is amazing. However, is it really used to understand who the audience is? One of the major takeaways has been to target communications to the people who will be happy that they have come through the doors. While this requires being clear about whom not to target, decreasing the size of any potential audience it frees bandwidth to authentically engage with a selected group. Being able to truly add value to their experience is superb in creating loyalty.
As more and more data can be collected passively the more important is it to communicate trust. It must be the highest priority to keep data being helpful. Once people begin to feel targeted by an algorithm their data-sharing willingness will drop. Hence, it should be a goal to keep most of the data discrete and truly consider where its use adds value to our customer’s experience.
DIFFERENCE IN PLAY: GENDER AND VIDEO GAMES
While the video games industry employs 19% women, very few actually end up making games and implicitly this means many video games are made from a male perspective. However, the problem seems to be sitting much deeper in how society is raising children. Instead of encouraging girls and boys equally, at some point games stop being advertised to girls, resulting in less engagement and ultimately an invisibility of the gaming industry to young women. For the women who have made it into the gaming industry many report experiencing being patronised, not been taken seriously and lacking progression opportunities.
Women in Games, an organisation supporting women in the gaming industry, recognises the exceptional work done by women in the mobile games industry with its inaugural Mobile Games Award today. Jo Summers founded Make Play Code, a space for women to make video games and learn new skills from each other. In her view, reframing video games through a cultural lens attracted more women to join the Brighton-based collective. Choosing open and inclusive language as well as making women “visible” will be a catalyst to change.
The discussion on female participation in the tech industry will be continued at the first annual summit on Making IT Work for Women on 24 October in association of Women’s Enterprise Scotland and Informatics Ventures.