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Art exhibit a nod to women's contributions in gaming
July 18, 2013 12:15 PM | 2966 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Curators of the 'XYZ: Alternative Voices in Game Design' exhibit at the Museum of Design Atlanta are, from left, Adam Rafinski, Akira Thompson, Celia Pearce, John Sharp and Cindy Poremba.
Curators of the 'XYZ: Alternative Voices in Game Design' exhibit at the Museum of Design Atlanta are, from left, Adam Rafinski, Akira Thompson, Celia Pearce, John Sharp and Cindy Poremba.
For the die-hard enthusiasts that populate the gaming realm, it’s as simple as X-Y-Z.

Perhaps everyone else could stand to be enlightened.

Women’s contributions to the evolution of an industry flush with consumer dollars and interest are being placed front and center as part of an exhibit at the Museum of Design Atlanta in Midtown.

“XYZ: Alternative Voices in Game Design” — equal parts ambitious and informative — runs Sunday through Sept. 2.

“It’s a different type of game exhibition. … It’s like walking into an alternate reality,” said “XYZ” co-curator Cindy Poremba.

Patrons will get to experience the full gamut of the ever-evolving home entertainment platform via meticulously crafted galleries showcasing a broad range of interactive works, from classic arcade games to contemporary immersive 3-D properties.

In what is likely a nod to past and present, participating artist Kaho Abe’s creation, “Ninja Shadow Warrior,” is but a few yards away from an American arcade Golden Era staple, “Centipede.”

Abe created the Internet-compatible photo booth game, housed in a custom-built arcade cabinet at the museum, three years ago. “Centipede” was co-designed back in the ’80s by Donna Bailey, considered one of the early women game designers.

“I’m very grateful to be in this show; there are amazing artists and designers [represented],” said Abe. “For me, it’s nice to be recognized as a person in a larger group of people and a larger statement that other people are trying to make about games and women in games.”

For most of its 40-year history, the video game industry has been viewed as a boys’ club — justifiable given that women only make up about 15 percent of its active members and brain trust.

Still, women have had influential roles in the creative process of a surprising number of games, said “XYZ” lead curator Celia Pearce.

“The show is not in any way comprehensive — there are many, many more women game designers than are represented here,” said Pearce, an associate professor at Georgia Tech. “But, we want to depict pieces that we felt were exemplary of certain types of games in terms of game design or certain styles that women bring to the table.”

Titles like League of Legends, a popular multi-player online battle arena game co-designed by Christina Norman, occupy its own space in the exhibition. The fantasy game averages more than 12 million players worldwide every day.

On the flip side, independently produced games are given just as prominent room for review.

At first glance, the exhibition flourishes in its wealth of expansive offerings.

Showcases of educational and documentary games — “Whyville” and “Escape from Woomera” among them —  as well as properties created in the vein of personal artistic expressions supplement the attention surely to be devoted to “XYZ’s” more recognizable titles.

Poremba, a professor of game design at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, sees this as a plus.

“I think it’s really important to have all these games in one spot because it gives you this sense of what games would be like if instead of focusing on what we’ve traditionally focused on,” said Poremba. “It’s almost a ‘What if’ space.”

*Note: There will be special events scheduled throughout the exibit's run.


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