Adventures in GeekGirlScouts: An Interview with Andy
GeekGirlCon and the Girl Scouts of Western Washington have joined forces to bring together our love of gaming and young female empowerment. Andy Munich, our own Gaming Events Coordinator, helped bring the program to life. An avid gamer himself, Andy wanted to organize activities and tours for the Girl Scouts that would teach them more about the gaming industry. So far, they’ve visited our friends at Wizards of the Coast and DigiPen, and have future tours scheduled with studios such as Bungie.
To learn more about the program, I did a Q&A with Andy to see what the GeekGirlScouts are all about:
Q: What is GeekGirlScouts?
A: The GeekGirlScouts is an initiative that was started via a conversation between me and Tammie Treibley Thompson while we were participating in the 2014 Wizards of the Coast Dungeons and Dragons Extra Life Marathon. We both agreed that it was high time that GeekGirlCon and the Girl Scouts of Western Washington teamed up for something related to the nerdy activities we so much enjoy.
Q: How is GeekGirlScouts different than other troops?
A: The GeekGirlScouts is a moniker for the series of activities we’ve held and will be holding. Past participants have come from several different Girl Scout troops. These programs are open to all members!
Q: How does the program relate to GeekGirlCon?
A: As a member of our Games Team, I’ve tried to bring the joy of gaming to others via community outreach as well as events held during the convention itself. Gaming is big part of the GeekGirlCon experience and one we want to share outside our single glorious weekend. GeekGirlScouts is a targeted way of bringing that experience to a group whose mission aligns closely with our own.
Q: Visiting geeky-professionals in the Seattle area plays a significant role in the program. What sorts of activities and trips are unique to GeekGirlScouts?
A: For year two of GeekGirlScouts, I wanted to do some field trips! As much fun as we had in the past playing games, I thought it vital that the Girl Scouts get a chance to see how games are made and, more importantly, who was making them. The Seattle area boasts a large array of companies and institutions that are in the business of making games, many of which employ women in key areas of development. Our tours, as we are calling them, put a focus on this contribution to the industry.
Q: What did the girls do at Wizards of the Coast?
A: What a great visit! First, everyone posed in front of a huge red dragon! Then the girls were led on an extensive tour of the offices, which are festooned with decades of amazing artwork for Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering.
There was a short break in which the girls received gift bags of Magic cards, which they immediately began drafting.
Soon after, everyone gathered to meet Mark Rosewater, head designer for Magic, who took them through the process of creating a unique, playable card. The GeekGirlScouts designed it from the ground up, and then were presented with their very own copies!
We ended our tour by meeting Elaine Chase, who started at Wizards back in 1999 and has since gone on to become a Senior Director of Global Brand Strategy and Marketing. She was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to give some advice and inspiration to our GeekGirlScouts about succeeding in the world of big, geeky business. I felt pretty inspired myself.
Q: What is DigiPen Institute of Technology, and why is visiting places like Digipen important for young girls? What did they do on the visit?
A: DigiPen is an international university that focuses on training students for a future in the video game industry. They have a campus here in Washington, and two others located in Singapore and Spain.
The hope in visiting DigiPen was that we’d show our GeekGirlScouts that there are educational paths that specifically support a career in game creation. It’s not an easy path to follow, but resources now exist that make such a career within reach for the truly dedicated.
Our troop was able to visit the entire institute, from cafeteria to classrooms, talking with faculty and students about their experiences there. Especially inspiring were the walls covered in artwork from major, excellent game titles that alumni had worked on.
We were lucky enough to have my friend Hana Butler, who is a student at DigiPen and game developer, drop in to help guide the tour. She gave some honest, valuable insight into the program; I think the girls really connected with what she had to say.
Q: What trips do you have planned for the future?
A: We’re putting together a visit with Bungie, creators of the Marathon, Halo, and Destiny video game franchises for later this fall! We have some other local companies that have expressed an interest in hosting the GeekGirlScouts and we’re looking forward to recruiting for those visits soon. My hope is that as other companies hear about the program, they become eager to open their doors to these amazing young women.
I’ve wanted to pursue the gaming industry for as long as I can remember, having been a hardcore gamer since the day I could read and properly comprehend dialogue (without constantly asking mom to be my personal Uhura). Seeing programs that inspire and encourage girls, particularly young girls, that geeky fields and hobbies are totally within their grasp makes me extremely proud and thoughtful for the growth of this community. Giving girls the opportunity to engage with these programs and have fun learning about how games are professionally made and constructed, is an amazing opportunity and one that I wish I’d been given at that age.
If you’re interested in signing up your daughter, visit the Girl Scouts of Western Washington to get started! If you’d like to get involved with the GeekGirlScouts feel free to reach out to Andy (email@example.com).
Are you joining us at the convention in two weeks? The GeekGirlScouts will also be teaching people how to play some fun games in the gaming section, and the Girl Scouts of Western Washington will have a table in the GeekGirlConnections area. Stop by and make sure to say hello!