You’re a Damsel in distress and nowt’ more than an object

This series is by, Anita Sarkeesian, who talks us through a history of the “Damsel in Distress” mechanic used by many popular games from the digital age, referenceing games like Mario, Zelda, Prince of Persia… pretty much a lot of games. It takes a very well laid out approach to identifying what to look for, what mindset it may put the player in and rounds with a challenge that “game makers can do better”. The video essay explores how Damsels in games are powerless, stupid and nothing more than a ball in a game between two male characters, an object. Not I hear you fuming, a great image.

While the video is a very good essay piece and was interesting, it does feel very narrow minded. She definitely uses some popular games to prove her point but you’re still left with a feeling of unbalance; She fails to explore the hundreds of other games that have “jack all” (nothing) to do with Damsels and more to do with sweets (Candy Crush saga) or strong women characters (the Halo series).

Feminist Frequency
Feminist Frequency

The video is still worth taking the time to watch, monotonous as it is as I have no doubt it will set you thinking. Bring on Part II and we’ll see if the view balances.


In response to this, enjoy this graphic 🙂

Dad re-writes Donkey Kong for girl to be hero
Dad re-writes Donkey Kong for girl to be hero

The super meetup of digital and government thought leaders, CITIZEN2013


Can citizens really be customers? Can public bodies really ‘engage’ with citizens? Can the public sector achieve the same ease of doing business online as achieved by the big online brands? On June 13, 2013 the second CITIZEN conference will take place to try to answer these questions.

Now this is exciting, I’ve got a ticket to go to CITIZEN2013, albeit it’s to help out and get some Voxpops, however I’m still going and couldn’t be more chuffed.

This year it’s on June 13th at the Park Plaza Westminister Bridge Hotel and my word are there going to be some outstanding speakers. It’s worth noting too the number of top women speakers, thank goodness; A view on democracy and politics from what is a very male dominated workforce. (146 women out of 504 people, House of Commons, 2012)

So, first up on the list to tell you about is Elizabeth Linder, who is currently Facebook’s Political and Government specialist. She’s not shy of all the big digital wigs and has worked at Google and Youtube already with similarly huge roles.


Second, and even more Government is Martha Lane Fox who co-founded and is now the “UK’s Digital Champion and chair of Go On UK” whatever that is 😛

Martha Lane Fox
Martha Lane Fox

Maybe the next post, I’ll attempt to shut my gaping mouth and talk a little about what’s being discussed at CITIZEN2013 this year and it’s relevance to the other Governement Digital meetups I’ve attended.

Raising the cost to cut use…

Mathematically, “raising the cost of objects to cut their use” will work, eg, beer, cigarettes, petrol. Ethically however, it could be interpreted as rich people telling less rich people what they can and can’t buy as the price change affects their consumption more.

So having millionaires deciding budget changes for a majority of non-millionaires, is that sensible?

Cartoon about millionaires in UK Cabinet
Cartoon about millionaires in UK Cabinet –

Making the switch to Agile, part one

Switching to Agile. Not the simplest thing in the world, however… very very worth it.

Our office at Thought Den made the switch last year and while it’s a great idea all this transparency, updates and team responsibility it’s not a simple thing to do.

So I’ve written a two part blog post about it over at the Thought Den blog with our “learns” so far. It’s like a little heads-up if you’re thinking about making the change, read about it here.

Fear is to be expected when a company director swans into the studio after a fancy workshop in London saying, “We’re going to change how we do EVERYTHING!”.

Fear not…


Hacking apart the environment – the write up

The event has been going all weekend, people are so tired they, wolfed down the pizza and fizzy drinks in 10 minutes after serving and they should be looking sugar-rush nervous.


But there’s a jolly tone in the air, and even with the judges stalking between the teams checking out everyone’s new creative ideas. The probing, “I’m sorry, it does what again?” intersperse a brave developer’s sleepy pitch.

The environment hack weekend is a great idea. The up-beat tone is testament to the progress people have made on behalf of themselves and the environment agency.

What is it?
Here is a good value solution for government agencies looking to start digital projects ‘right’. There is an opportunity for crowd wisdom, creative flair, silly ideas and it won’t break the bank!

There are limits to these events, its use is better for discovering a new brief, not finishing a product. It’s for ideas and concepts not working on an old product. It’s best used as a pre-cursor for new products and available budget spend. Also, the haphazard team that had the creative idea may not be the best to make it a reality.

However, more government projects and agencies should try this model (ill be creating a template in another post) attempting to find the great ideas with all their data, using the skilled public at a small scale to look for and probe for successful services in the digital revolution.

The presentations
I saw all the presentations luckily, at the expense of nearly missing the train, here’s my favourites.


River watch, identifying the points on a canal where the biggest drop is, which identifies good places for a hydroelectric station.

Air pollution, a map app that links asthma prescriptions data to air pollution data, letting you see high and low affected spots of those two data sets.

Many penguins might die, a silly and very shareable city environment quality app which tells you how many penguins might die if you dumped them in your city. Their predicted death toll is based on water, air and food quality. Lower penguin death count indicates better living quality… Obviously!

I can see satellites, a calm app thats clearly from someone who’s done time as at the pmstudio. The app quietly reports how many satellites it can see above at any point.

Hacking apart the environment…

Who’s going to the Environment Agency hack day?

We will be bringing together around 80 software and hardware developers, Environment Agency experts and interesting data. The goal is to create cool demos that showcase how technology can help us all be more green and environmentally responsible.

Environment Hack logo
Environment Hack logo

A great way to source the wisdom of the crowd. I’m heading along on the Sunday to see and record some of the progress.