Kazakhstan schoolgirls will master video game development
UNICEF and KBTU launch UniSat gamification course
ALMATY, May 24, 2023 - The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and GameLab KBTU (the video game development and research laboratory at Kazakh-British Technical University) have launched an online course called ‘Level Up: Introduction to Video Games and Gamification’. The course is part of UNICEF’s global initiative to support girls in STEAM fields (science, technology, engineering, art, and math).
The course offers an overview of the multifaceted topic of video games and gamification. It begins with an introduction to the video game industry and the professions that exist there and progresses to teaching students basic game design and development skills. Over 100 girls will be able to take the course, which is offered completely free of charge.
The project manager, Alexandra Knysheva, stated,
“Our course is free and open to everyone, although it was developed to focus on high school girls. In inclusive pedagogy, there is the concept of the ‘imaginary learner’ – the person the teacher imagines when preparing her curriculum. Unfortunately, STEAM curricula are mostly focused on boys, who are quite ambitious and self-confident. As educators, we strive to overcome this bias in curricula development. The course’s goal is to offer girls the opportunity to consider game development and gamification as a potentially viable career direction. Research shows that most girls who were previously interested in STEAM give up in high school due gender stereotype pressures and choose the career path of least resistance.”
The opportunity to receive advice from successful women in the gaming industry is an important step in supporting girls considering future careers in STEAM. At the end of the course, these career women will talk to the girls in individual sessions about finding educational opportunities, promoting their competences in the highly competitive job market, balancing family and career, and addressing other issues that come up when choosing a career.
UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan, Arthur van Diesen, stated, “Women and girls make up half of the world's video game players, but only 24 per cent of women work in the video game development industry. Stereotypes and existing social norms prevent girls from pursuing their dreams and building careers in STEAM. We want to support Kazakhstani students who dream of a career in IT with our course, mentorship, and hackathon. By developing the necessary skills and knowledge in coding, game design, game product development, graphic design, and animation, girls will be able to become the architects of our digital future.”
Upon completion of the first course offering, 50 girls from all over Kazakhstan will gather at KBTU for a hackathon on UniSat course gamification, where they will be able to apply their knowledge and skills in practice. The best team project will form the basis for the gamification of the UniSat course, an educational program on nanosatellite development launched by UNICEF and Al-Farabi Kazakh National University in 2020.
You can join the steam of the first course by completing this registration form. Students must complete the Level Up online course and the UniSat online course by July 19, 2023 in order to participate in the KBTU Hackathon.
UNICEF works to ensure the rights and well-being of every child. UNICEF works with its partners in 190 countries and territories around the world to translate its commitments into reality, focusing on reaching the most marginalized and excluded children; to the benefit of children, everywhere in the world.
For more information on UNICEF’s activities, see www.unicef.org.
GameLab KBTU was established in 2022 through the School of IT and Engineering at Kazakhstani-British Technical University. The main objectives of the laboratory include developing and implementing educational programmes in game development and gamification for KBTU students and general audiences, mentoring student projects in video game development and research, and researching activities in the field of video games and gamification. Visit GameLab’s Instagram page to learn more.
Alexandra Knysheva is Head of the GameLab KBTU video game development and research laboratory. She possesses an MA in Media Studies and is Kazakhstan’s first ambassador for the international Women in Games organization.