Congratulations on your newly published book "Gamedesign for Dummies Junior". How did you get the idea to choose this topic for your next book?
Thank you! The idea actually came to me three years ago when the publisher asked for suggestions for the second book. At that time, we were faced with the choice between game development and 3D modeling. We decided on the second option. Last year Johanna, who also gives workshops for children as a mentor, contacted me. She wanted to write a book about game design for kids and looked for assistance. This was a perfect fit! Together with Wilfried, who teaches courses on computer game production as a professor and is very active in the Scratch Wiki, we were happy to write the book.
Why is Scratch as a programming language particularly well-suited for children and young people getting started in game design?
Nowadays, programming your own games is easier than you think. Scratch offers everything you need to develop your own computer games. At the same time, the complicated-looking subject of programming is greatly simplified. You don't need to know the programming code and instead of writing code lines, you simply visually push colored blocks into each other in a free space like a puzzle. By using these blocks, the programmed result is less prone to errors, as the shapes and colors of the blocks make visible what belongs together. At the same time, graphics can be used very quickly since many templates already exist as well as a child-friendly painting surface to draw your own figures. Sounds and melodies can be simply created and are therefore easily accessible.
Scratch was designed for children aged 8 years and older but is used by people of all ages. I highly recommend Scratch as a starting place for anyone who wants to get generally familiar with basic computer science concepts like loops, conditions, and variables.
In order to strengthen diversity in the gaming industry, you have developed digital games with women from different countries. Why do you think it is important for this industry, in particular, to become more diverse?
The game industry - like the general IT industry - is highly male-dominated, which among other things affects the working atmosphere and representation of women in games. In 2018, I had the chance to participate in the "Girl Games" project funded by the Goethe Institute. In this project, 13 women from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Germany, Colombia and Peru came together in São Paulo to develop their own games within a period of two weeks. As a highlight, we programmed the games especially for the FIESP building in São Paulo, which is equipped with LEDs on the façade, so we had a gigantic and slightly pyramid-like display that was lit up with bright colors in the evening.
I was very surprised by the experiences of the other women from the fields of game design, game artist and software development, because, although we went through similar experiences, I became even more aware of the difference between other countries. Violence and sexism towards women is generally more prevalent in Brazil than in Germany. Sexism both in the workplace—so-called game studios—as well as in games themselves, but also the exclusionary behavior in online gaming towards women is unfortunately still common. We can only achieve more diversity both in characters and in the topics of digital games by changing the current situation.