In an effort to bridge the gender-gap in the video game industry, Laila Shabir started Girls Make Games four years ago. Every year, Girls Make Games runs 3 week long summer camps around the country. This year, 33 teams of girls between the ages of 8-17 learned how to design and program video games at PlayStation’s campus in San Mateo to celebrate girls in gaming. Of those 33 teams, the top five made it out to Demo Day to pitch their games to a panel of industry judges.

The panel of judges included big names in the video game industry. Executive VP of Gaming at Microsoft, Phil Spencer, Executive VP of Business Affairs at Nintendo, Devon Pritchard, and Senior VP of Business Development at Caffeine, Anna Sweet were among the panel of finalist judges. Moreover, they were joined by PlayStation President and CEO John Kodera, Chairman of Worldwide Studios, Shawn Layden, and Vice President of Product Development at Worldwide Studios, Connie Booth.

The winning team this year was Team Sarcastic Shark Clouds, who created a game that takes a multi-narrative approach to bullying, presenting the issue from both the victim’s and the bully’s perspective. The game’s title is Shredded Secrets and it is an emotional journey through four characters and their experiences with school and life. This game shows how people from different backgrounds can overcome adversity together.

Shredded Secrets impressed the industry experts so much that it is going to be made into a full game over the next year to be published on Steam and console. For Shabir, “It is [her] hope that Girls Make Games can provide the same validation and access to education – which is the best form of empowerment – to girls everywhere,” and as is evident in the quality of the games produced at the event, Girls Make Games is certainly a great start. Other winners included the games Detective Blobfish, a horror game titled Luka, an educational game titled Kaiyo, and The Return.

All these games are free to download and play on the Girls Make Games website.

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