Leveling up diversity in game design

New club at George Brown works on improving diversity in gaming to make inclusive and interesting games

Image of a poster on wall with text Pytvo Gaming with image of brain in a fist and the founder Gabriela Aveiro standing next to the wall

Pytvo Gaming club founder Gabriela Aveiro aims to make video games more diverse. |
Photo: Aliona Kuts / The Dialog

Gabriela Aveiro, a third-year game development student, is running Pytyvõ (puh-tee-voh) Gaming. The group has recently been approved by the Student Association (SA) as an official club.

The name originated from Aveiro’s mother tongue, which is spoken by Paraguay’s indigenous people. Pytyvõ means “community” or “helping out communities” in the Guaraní language. The aim of the club is to put more attention on games featuring diverse characters, especially marginalised ones who belong to ethnic minorities such as black, Latino, indigenous and Asian.

Although the club is about video game characters, it is also highly focused on game developers themselves. “We want to create a sense of community between these marginalised creators whose work doesn’t get noticed much and empower them,” said Aveiro.

She came up with an idea in November 2014, launched a Facebook group the following March and held the first event, featuring diverse games and discussions on the subject in June. Even though Aveiro is connected with similar clubs in the U.S. and Canada, there were people who helped her throughout the process.

Jean-Paul Amore, co-ordinator of game development, game design and advanced digital design at George Brown helped her allocate space for the club. Dany Ko a computer science and equity studies student at University of Toronto helped spread news about Pytyvõ Gaming events. Finally, Seneca communications student Zarish Asif gave her a hand writing the group’s mission statement.

As an executive of the International Game Developers Association at GBC, Aveiro has been promoting her group throughout the college. Now in her last year of the animation program at George Brown College, Aveiro has created a Twine game, based on some of her culture’s stories as part of a Game Jam, which took place from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Twine is a free game-making program that is mainly used to make text-based games, which rely on storytelling.

Pytyvo Gaming will be starting a social media campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #LevelUpDiversity that will run from Oct. 22 to 28 to encourage people to share art on diverse characters. The campaign will lead to an event screening series talks about gaming diversity, mentioned Aveiro. All the club’s events have been open to the public and free and Aveiro said she hopes to keep them this way with the help of the club funding from the SA.

Upon graduation Aveiro’s ultimate goal is to register her group as a non-profit organization.

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Leveling up diversity in game design