TIFF Nexus is doing incredible things here in Toronto: It is a program that allows creators of all kinds come together and produce really special things. In the past we saw a collaboration between hardware hackers and game makers that resulted in some pretty intense projects, including a flight game piloted by your eye. Just recently however, Nexus ran an initiative that sought to bring more females into the field of new media (film, television, game-making, etc.).
Leigh Alexander, the keynote speaker for the event, discussed the need to diversify the industry. Her main point was that by bringing in new people and new ideas into the industry it will grow to be a robust culture that includes everyone. The “all-boys club” of the past can no longer be considered a sustainable model on a go-forward basis. Alexander praised the Nexus initiative for encouraging more woman to join the industry; these initial folks will, in turn, inspire more woman to move into the industry. Screen-based media is still relatively new; but it is still an incredible force in our society today. That is why it is important to have as many different people as possible positively represented, thus ensuring that the future of screen based media is equitable and strong.
The conference also highlighted the Difference Engine Initiative, which is a game jam (created by Toronto’s Hand Eye Society) aimed specifically at aspiring female game makers. The head of Ubisoft Toronto, Jade Raymond, was present to discuss the behind the scenes of the Difference Engine with the game makers. There was a strong sense of camaraderie and support among all of the game makers. Panelists spoke on the importance of having such a supportive group around them as they developed their game; it allowed them to stay motivated throughout the process.
It is great to see initiatives like this thrive in our city (and in our industry) because it makes things more dynamic and fresh. Screen-based media is still in its infancy, so initiatives like this are extremely effective in fostering change in the industry. We look forward to the future to see what comes next out of the amazing TIFF Nexus.