This is a guest post from Phil Harris on the ENABLE LAC Games Workshop run by Guerilla Tea, first published on Scottish Games Network.
We were delighted to be invited to Guerilla Tea’s second workshop with Enable Scotland’s East Renfrewshire Local Area Coordination (LAC) Team; with some parents and LAC’s there with the kids. For those of you who don’t know LAC’s support people with disabilities to think about and plan for a life that makes sense to them.
These youngsters had actively shown an interest in the games industry and the LAC Team had the foresight to talk to Guerilla Tea at Future Fest, to make things happen. After a little negotiation Guerilla Tea considered a set of workshops over two days, so here we are.
At the first event Brian (Baglow) spoke about the general history of games in Scotland, answering questions from the children and discussing how we had gone from then to now; a talk which I’d advise anyone to catch if they get the chance. This event saw talks from Ryan Locke (University of Abertay) and myself discussing further aspects of the industry.
I went first, discussing ways you might enter the industry, what to prepare, the differences between companies and the fact that the great world of multi-media was drawing everything closer together. Elements of videogames were now associated with TV, film and more traditional gaming experiences, and I highlighted the fact that the industry would consider anyone with the talents. Ryan followed talking about his experiences through university, the energy of proving peers – who suggested you couldn’t get a job in the industry – wrong and the fact that university learning was an open and engaging experience. Ryan reiterating the fact that the industry had grown up enough to see beyond disability and to the heart of the person beneath, be they programmer, artist, audio or design.
Following this Matt reminded the children of the company name, Lazy Boy, and the game concept they had invented. This cyberpunk reality, where the elderly were blocking the hero Norman from an alien invasion; causing him to have to use his cyber-watch to change his human abilities, so that he could move them out of the way.
It was great to see the youngsters actively animated and interested in this project, deciding whether they were working with programming, design or art elements and considering the needs of each other. They had high concept involvement too, which needed just a little reigning-in, as the game needed to be completed by the end of the day. However with gentle encouragement from Guerilla Tea, the LAC’s, parents, Ryan and myself things moved quickly – including the children passing positive reinforcement back to their tutors.
Lazy Boy’s first game will be launched for all to see later, after a little Guerilla Tea polish but, as always, the event itself was a shining example of what the games industry could achieve. Parents and LAC’s asked the whole team questions, looking for tips and ideas of how to support their young wards into the industry and some solid bonds were made. The chance for active engagement and the realistic feeling that they were part of something greater and could truly consider an industry job.
Guerilla Tea and the LAC Team have made a great step today and we hope that this event will be repeated next year, becoming an industry standard and ensuring that those who have disability understand that there is value in their work and skills within this constantly changing industry.