The Weekly Geek: “Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure”

My weekly dose of female empowerment came from a wonderful, unexpected source this time around. We all know about the game industry’s mixed reputation as a female-friendly place – or at the least, as a place that young women are encouraged to look into for career options. Well, one game developer has taken a stand against that, by bringing his 5-year-old daughter with him to a game jam (an indie festival where developers make complete games in a short time frame) and helped her make her very own game.

Developer Ryan Creighton details the adventure in this Gamasutra blog, where the creation of “Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure” and the experience of bringing his little girl to the Toronto Indie Game Jam (TOJam) is laid out.

While Creighton took care of the technical end, young Cassie created all of the art (with crayons), designed the story and the characters (including Mr. Turtle, the Mean Tiger and the villainous Lemon) and helped (along with the entire Creighton family) compose the music.

The most adorable part – aside from the awesome photos of Cassie and her dad hard at work on the game – is her obvious enthusiasm:

Sunday evening, the family regrouped at TOJam. The game, while still unfinished, was set up in a hallway where Cassie excitedly ran up to any interested passers-by, snatched the mouse out of their hands, and said “I MADE THIS! LEMMIE SHOW YOU HOW TO PLAY!”

This isn’t just cute, of course – it’s also genuinely heartwarming to see just how much emphasis Creighton put on the importance of Cassie feeling empowered. In one instance, he details a conversation he had with his daughter:

You have to prove to everyone that little girls can make video games, too. If you’re very well behaved, then next year if another little girl wants to come and make a game, the TOJam people will say “the little girl who made a game last year was so wonderful, we’d love to see more little girls making games.”

And towards the end, he reiterates that importance:

I think it was a really valuable life lesson for Cassie to see that all her hard work and effort went into making a product that brought smiles to the faces of her players.

You can actually play Cassie’s game right online, and revel in the sheer awesomeness that a little girl made it. You can also make a donation to Cassie’s education fund, if you feel so inclined.

Hooray for young girls getting their creativity on, parents who believe their little ladies are capable and awesome, and ponycorns – whatever they are.

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