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Cardiff inspires the next generation of game designers

16 February 2021

Example of a game
Example of a game created by the participants of the Impact Games project.

Cardiff University’s School of Computer Science & Informatics has undertaken an exciting collaboration project with Cardiff Science Festival and Impact Gamers, aimed at inspiring the next generation of female scientists.

The forward-thinking project, entitled ‘Impact Games’, has a very clear mission – to inspire young people to become games makers rather than game players!

UCAS figures show that just 16.2% of the 2020 intake for Computer Science were female*. However, this demonstrates a 1% increase from the previous year, and a steady increase over the earlier 5.

In a bid to engage the female coders of the future, the project united numerous parties, bringing together a range of expertise to inspire and empower.

Impact Gamers, an award-winning company based in Bradford, played a key role by helping to design activities that would demonstrate to the next generation just how fun and easy coding can be.

On board were also Girlguiding Cymru, an organisation focused on supporting the development of girls, with previous success in managing varied and exciting programmes throughout the changing circumstances of the pandemic.

‘Impact Games’ worked with nine groups of girls within the Girlguiding Cymru organisation, over the course of six remote sessions. During this time, the participants created nine separate interactive games, reflecting a range of scientific topics.

Susan Monkton, Liaison Officer at Cardiff’s School of Computer Science & Informatics, told us:

“The ideas and implementation of the game rested squarely on the young participants shoulders, and it was fantastic to see them grow in confidence throughout their time with us.

The topics the girls chose included Space Exploration, Cleaning the Atmosphere, and the Bodies Reactions to Illnesses, and they did a brilliant job!”

Cardiff University’s School of Computer Science & Informatics supported these dynamic game development sessions via their successful STEM Ambassadors Scheme, which sees students undertaking a range of activities to promote both computing and STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) to young people.

Peter, a STEM Ambassador involved in the project, reported:

“Being involved with Impact Gamers has been a fun experience. The Impact Gamers staff have been invaluable, as we did not always know what to say and they would step in and support us.

The games created were very well done and you can see the hard work the girls put into it. They managed to add all sorts of educational elements to make the game relate to the information that was given to them.”

Arunima, also a STEM Ambassador, reveals the importance of the project for inspiring young female coders:

“Since my childhood whenever I wrote code, a feeling of accomplishment spread through me, giving me an adrenaline rush. It is then I knew that I wanted to inspire girls like me to break all stereotypes and choose computer science to achieve their dreams. Impact games was one such project that gave me this opportunity.

This entire process was very interesting as the girls would get so excited sharing so many of their creative ideas. Even though not all participants knew each other, they made friends with each other in no time were helping each other through the sessions.”

The Impact Games project was born in the Autumn of 2020, spanning several months, due to end with a celebratory event as part of the Cardiff Science Festival 2021, where the games will be showcased. The event takes place 6pm Thursday 18th February - head to the Cardiff Science Festival events page for more information!

Speaking for Cardiff’s School of Computer Science & Informatics, Susan Monkton told us:

“We are incredibly proud of this project and the work the participants have done. We hope to continue this important work in the future, to empower girls and women to build their knowledge in coding and in Computer Science in general”.

*McDonald, C. (2020) Number of students taking computer science degrees up 7.6% in 2020, Computer Weekly. Available at: https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252493740/Number-of-students-taking-computer-science-degrees-rises-76-in-2020 (Accessed: 14 February 2021).

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