Artifact Studios published a new short documentary about the founder of the Girls Make Games program, Laila Shabir, and about her summer camp program for budding female game designers, Girls Make Games. The video chronicles Shabir’s inspiring move from The United Arab Emirates, where she felt fearful of stepping out and doing what she wanted to do, to her starting college at MIT, and then starting her Girls Make Games program.
The documentary takes you into the summer camp and talks a bit with some of the girls in the program. Many of the girls attending the program say that they often hear people and society expressing the idea that computer science and STEM fields are not a place for girls, or that girls simply can’t succeed in those fields.
One of the girls featured in the video said that when there’s a project at school that requires the use of a computer, the boys at her school just take over the project.
“I started out making games to help people learn,” Shabir says. “And now, we’re helping people learn other things, like gaining confidence or just being better at whatever you’re doing through game making.”
Though despite all of these negative messages, the girls in the video also express how important games are to them.
“Games are important. They bring people together and they make you feel competition against yourself or others and to do something we all enjoy, so I think they’re very important,” one of the girls featured in the video said.
The documentary highlights how important it is for these young budding female game designers to have a safe space away to be able to create games.
Shabir started Girls Make Games in 2014, and the program is now in 38 cities around the world. This year she will be travelling back to the United Arab Emirates to bring the program back to the neighborhood where she grew up.