From Within an Active PoV: Feminist VR Game Making

From Within an Active PoV: Feminist VR Game Making is a research-creation project that investigates a feminist intervention in virtual reality game-making. It aims to build a generous and inclusive coalition of feminists in games by bringing feminist VR makers together and studying how, what, and why they make VR games.

From Within an Active PoV builds on the research of ReFiG, a 5 year project supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Composed of an international collective of scholars, community organizers and industry representatives, ReFiG is committed to promoting diversity and equity in the game industry and culture and effecting real change in an often myopic space that has been exclusionary to many. ReFig accomplishes this by intervening in four areas: game cultures, the games industry, informal learning environments, and formal education.

Unlike the world of commercial digital gaming, the VR ecosystem includes diverse voices: marginalized makers are visible in this emerging sector of technology (for example, CFC Open Immersion lab is open to indigenous artists and artists from the global south).  The inherent physicality of VR (which involves two audiences: the immersant and the voyeur) is also an opportunity to explore feminist approaches to game-making. From its development in the early nineties VR art has been driven by female artists, including works such as Catherine Richards’ Spectral Bodies (1991) and Char Davies' Osmose (1995). This clearly indicates a feminist interest in the ability of VR technologies to extend and reconfigure embodied experience. By featuring a living body, performance (and subsequently VR) allows women to “assert themselves as the active and self-determining agents of their own narratives” [1].

Through feminist game jams (distinguished by methods engaged and identification of participants) supported by multiple approaches to research documentation situated in OCAD University’s game:play lab, From Within an Active PoV will produce a series of VR sketches that explore, document, and instantiate a range of feminist approaches to processes of capture, design and development and interface.​ Engaging politically motivated activity in game cultures should grow from a purposeful playfulness in approach: playfulness is a much more potent force than direct conflict and offers an important means of engagement. 

​This will culminate in public exhibition and a co-Laboratory. Interested ReFiG researchers will join an open call for participation to these research jams. The jams will be documented using multiple methods (audio, video, note-taking, sketching, mapping, etc.) and the outcome shared in a range of channels including publication (academic and on the web), learning kits (for use in community and classroom) and via exhibition.

Additional Resources:
ReFig Website 
CFC Open Immersion Lab

1. Wark, Jane. 2006. Radical Gestures, Feminism, and Performance Art in North America. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press.

This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.





Photographs of immersants interacting with VR technology
Photograph of girl kneeling while playing a VR game
Photograph of two people: an immersant steps forward while interacting with VR and is observed by a second person
Photograph of a person using VR. Their right arm is extended forward as they move through the game world.
Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - 11:00am


Image from Marble Live/Game Jam
Wednesday, June 24, 2015 - 2:00pm to Thursday, June 25, 2015 - 9:00pm

This Game Jam design charrette presented by marblemedia and hosted by the game:play Lab at OCAD University approaches water-park game design, based on a combination of current game design and twenty-first century water theme park design skills.

This game jam will pull together student teams to design, develop and prototype innovative game design ideas that make full use of this unique opportunity.

marblemedia – is an award-winning content creation company at the forefront of television and digital media production, devoted to telling stories that entertain and engage audiences across all platforms. 

Currently being built in Ontario MarbleLIVE will offer state-of-the-art technology including the latest in smart wearables, player tracking, responsive screens and game approaches to create a wrap-around responsive play experience.

Project groups will start with a vision presentation from the MarbleLIVE team and the winning team has the opportunity to take up an internship on this unique project. This project design invites students from all OCAD disciplines. Each student that participates for the entire duration of the Game Jam will will be paid a $100.00 honorarium. The winning team will receive a marblemedia prize.

Venue & Address: 
Where and when: June 24th, 2015 – 10am -12pm  Mandatory Project Brief @ marblemedia, 74 Fraser Avenue, suite 100, Toronto presented by Mark Bishop Co-CEO and Executive Producer of marblemedia   June 25th, 2015 – 10am – 5pm Game Jam Day (breakfast and lunch included) @ game:play lab, 230 Richmond Street, West, 3rd floor, suite 309, Toronto hosted by Dr. Emma Westecott, Director game:lab, OCAD University