The tech and digital community is at the beginning of a massive shift. GX, an LGBT gaming conference, is entering its third year, and feminist gaming initiatives are gaining momentum across North America. Diverse voices are starting to speak up from the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
Susan Sim, computer science PhD and University of Toronto educator, notes how women in the video games industry — a culture long considered to be a white, straight, cisgender man’s world — are now standing up against systematic sexist behaviour. “[But] at the same time, I was looking forward to seeing The Imitation Game,” Sim says, “which had received the People’s Choice award at TIFF. The film is a biopic of Alan Turing, one of the founders of computer science and a gay man.”
It’s no wonder Sim and her colleagues at the Turing Initiative decided to draw on his life to connect LGBT techies and their allies in the industry.
“My aim is for every event to have a tech component and a diversity component,” she says. “Most of us are in tech because we like making things, creating beauty, telling stories and so forth. And this is just as important as the personal characteristics that set us apart.”
In the time the Initiative has been holding events, they’ve held a private screening of The Imitation Game followed by a discussion panel with experts from different fields. They’ve also held a workshop for beginners in the programming language Python.
On Feb 24th, the Turing Initiative hosts Queer Love in Games. “So often, computer games are heteronormative, with objectified love interests and a romantic relationship with an inevitable conclusion,” she says. “At the event, we’ll be hearing about some exciting alternatives.” Miriam Verberg, video game producer and game designer, will be speaking about LongStory’s range of identities and relationships. Michael Brown, writer, academic and gaymer podcast host, will be speaking about his research in exploring popular series Mass Effect’s romance options.
This is just the beginning for the Turing Initiative. Sim hopes that eventually they can create a network of people who will be able to provide anti-oppressive workshops for industry workplaces.
“We’re looking for people who’d like to get involved,” she says. “Helping out could range from simple logistics, or organizing events, or hosting an event in your space. Having free space at the university is great, but it would be even better to meet people where they are, such as in the design district or in the gay village.”