Code Breakers: Women In Games – Interview With Lisy Kane

To celebrate the achievements of women in Australia’s expanding game development industry, ACMI’s Code Breakers: Women in Games is a free exhibition running until the 15th of May at Yarra Ranges Regional Museum. The exhibition offers visitors the chance to be fully immersed in the work of these incredible women, with interactive game stations and a comprehensive history of the ways in which these women have impacted and changed the Australian gaming scene.

One of the many women being highlighted by the exhibition is the indomitable Lisy Kane. Few faces better represent the Code Breaker philosophy – featured on the Forbes 30 Under 30 2017 list, Kane is a globally recognised expert whose work has been featured by Adobe and Nissan, as well as the Game Developers Conference, PAX Australia and Xbox’s Women in Games Rally. Producer at Melbourne’s League of Geeks studio and co-founder of Girl Geek Academy, a massive push to give 1 million women the tools they need to get into the tech industry by 2025, Kane is a powerhouse of technical know-how and a leading advocate for change in the industry.

We had the pleasure of catching up with her via email as we talk federal funding, intersectional feminism and why Code Breakers is such an important event.

Interview With Lisy Kane

PowerUp: Broadly speaking, how do you feel about the strides being made in Australia’s games industry to better recognise, celebrate and nurture women in these spaces?

Lisy Kane: Since I’ve been active in the Australian games industry, there has always been a place for advocates championing for equality across a variety of underrepresented developers. Initiatives like Code Breakers are able to have space because of the opennesses for change. However, within studios, I’m not as confident in how effective the growth and career development of women is as we still have a severe lack in senior and leadership level diversity. 

PowerUp: Your work with Girl Geek Academy is such a fantastic leap forward for women in the industry. Do you feel as though the Australian government could be doing more to provide incentives, funding etc? Either on a state or federal level.

Lisy Kane: The Australian government needs to clean up its own house first. Over the past 2 years and getting closer to election time, it’s clear how low of a priority equality for women is across the board – not just in games. Girl Geek Academy did receive funding earlier on in our journey however it’s tough to reconcile this when we’re seeing stories play out in Parliament itself. We want to see more diversity in our parliament, our decision-makers. At a state and federal level for videogames, there are a wide range of incredible grant opportunities, the interesting question to ask here is how Diversity & Inclusion is factored into the grant selection process. Similar to recruitment, what biases are held when making these decisions?

Armello, the digital board game Kane produced with League of Geeks

PowerUp: Intersectionality has become such a cornerstone of our understanding of women’s struggles in not just the tech industry but society as a whole. How do you feel about Australia’s gaming landscape as it relates to women of colour and queer women/non-binary people? And do you feel you’ve seen a significant change in this space over the duration of your career?

Lisy Kane: With Twitter being a popular platform for game developers; over the past several years the decision towards intersectional feminism has been made more important as it becomes easier to read and understand the struggles outside of white-cis-woman feminism. The important thing is that we are seeing more communities grow and form to support and give voices to those outside of ‘traditional’ feminism and it’s important we celebrate them all.

PowerUp: What are you most excited about people getting to see or learn about during Code Breakers?

Lisy Kane: Always excited to see how school-aged kids get excited to see that video games are being made in Australia, let alone by a diverse range of people. There’s also a range of events that the Yarra Council are putting on to complement the event including Savvy Seniors which is my personal fave!

PowerUp: Finally, what are you playing at the moment?

Lisy Kane: I’ve been playing a little indie Early Access game called Tastemakers where you make a restaurant! It’s very chill and cute.

If you’re interested in seeing more of Kane’s work, check out her official website right here. Code Breakers: Women in Games is still running at Yarra Ranges Regional Museum and will be open to the public until Sunday, May 15th. The exhibition offers us a unique opportunity to explore and better understand not only the contributions of ANZ women to the industry but also game design as a whole.

For more information, head over to the ACMI Code Breakers: Women in Games site.

James Wood
James Wood
James literally cannot recall a time in which video games weren’t a part of his life. A childhood hobby turned adult fascination, gaming has been one of the few constants.

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