When you think of Rockstar Studios, “female empowerment” may not be the first thing to come to mind. Games like Grand Theft Auto have been described as sexist and their portrayal of women are limited to prostitutes and strippers, with violence against these women and other females easy to commit.
It has been argued that seeing as these women have little to no social capital and are therefore powerless, their digital deaths aren’t taken seriously. Therefore, women are generally not seen as holding power in Rockstar games. Sure, there was the gun toting, take no crap Sadie Adler in Red Dead Redemption 2, however she is one of the only women with any autonomy that I can remember being in a Rockstar game.
That’s why the news that Rockstar is opening it’s doors to Girls’ Game Lab is a nice surprise and a move in the right direction. Girls’ Game Lab is run by three women that work in the gaming industry that run workshops throughout the UK that aim to, “break stereotypes and let girls get to know their local games industry.”
Girls ages 8-12 are involved in these workshops with volunteers consisting of women working in the gaming industry. They provide these young with basic coding skills needed to create a platform that they can then take home, work on and play with their family. Their main aim is to make the gaming industry accessible to young women and provide them with the confidence to understand that they can be a part of what is still a very male dominated industry. Girls’ Game Labs workshops have previously seen them partner with Playground Games (Forza Horizon creators) and Jagex (developers of RuneScape)
Rockstar studios are notorious for being secretive so it’s a real win for Girls’ Game Labs and young aspiring female developers to get to team up and have access to Rockstar North’s assets. In these workshops, as in previous ones, attendees will be able to work with members of the studio’s development team who will lead them through such activities as levels, designing mechanics and narratives.
The workshop, hosted in Edinburgh at Rockstar North, is being held on the 22nd of February and has, unsurprisingly, already sold out. Girls’ Game Labs now have a wait list for the event, but said they will hopefully hold another Rockstar workshop if the demand is high enough.