Media Advisory for December 2-9, 2021
Ja-Rei Wang, Caring Across Generations, email@example.com
Karla Reyes, Code Coven, firstname.lastname@example.org
Emily Churchill Zaraa, Counterpoints Arts, email@example.com
NEW YORK—Leading caregiving advocates and gaming innovators in the U.S and the UK are teaming up to explore how video games, which nearly 3 billion people worldwide actively play, can change the way that people think about caregiving. Care Jam 2021, a weeklong hackathon-type experience for gaming, is the first of its kind to bring together game developers and people touched by care—people with disabilities, aging adults, family caregivers and care workers—from across the world to design gaming experiences that raise awareness about the intricacies of giving and receiving care. Participants will learn about harmful caregiving stereotypes and incorporate lived experiences of care into video and analog game prototypes that seek to build game players’ empathy and understanding.
“Video games have been long overlooked as a tool for social justice,” said Marzena Zukowska, Care Jam co-producer and co-author of the pop culture report New Brave World. “Games offer uniquely interactive ways of experiencing narratives, whether seeing the world through the eyes of someone with dementia or saving the planet as a queer disabled superhero. We hope this inaugural Care Jam sparks new ideas and solutions for one of the most pressing social issues of our time.”
Unlike hackathons, which tend to focus strictly on solutions to problems, game jams encourage people with diverse skill sets and lived experiences to test out ideas and explore story-based gaming concepts. The Care Jam is open to the public and event organizers invite participants to reimagine caregiving within game storylines and structures.
“The pandemic has accelerated the proliferation of games, welcoming new and diverse audiences,” said Karla Reyes, Care Jam co-producer and business development head at Code Coven, an accelerator and learning community for underrepresented game developers. “Game developers, however, do not fully reflect the rich diversity of players. By empowering underrepresented creators and storytellers with resources to develop interactive experiences, we hope to increase representation both behind and on screen and inspire participants and players across the globe to explore the intricacies of care.”
The gaming industry, like many other mass media industries, has long been dominated by white, cisgender and able-bodied men. Games and other media tend to privilege these dominant identities and cultural norms while underrepresenting and caricaturing people with nondominant identities.
“Positioning people most impacted by care as protagonists in games and other cultural mediums can challenge the deeply held beliefs around race, gender, able-bodiedness and citizenship at the root of why societies devalue care,” said Sarah Vitti, event co-producer and culture change manager at Caring Across Generations. “When we challenge and begin to rewrite those narratives, we can transform attitudes, norms, and behaviour, including how societies support care across the lifespan.”
The pandemic has underscored that care across all stages of life is essential for families and economies across the world. Yet, care work—disproportionately carried out by women and especially by migrant workers and women of color—remains severely underpaid, undervalued and without benefits. In the United States, the median pay for home care jobs hovers around $17,000 annually and more than half of all care workers rely on some form of public assistance. Poor working conditions have contributed to the current shortage of professional care workers, which will only intensify as the number of people aged 80 and older is expected to more than triple between 2015 and 2050, from 126.5 million to 446.6 million.
“In the UK, Covid and Brexit have highlighted the vital yet undervalued role migrant and Black communities play in the care sector,” said Marcia Chandra, event co-producer and creative producer at Counterpoints Arts. “Using the power of pop culture to shift how we think about care in our everyday lives has the potential to impact wider narratives around migration and racial justice, and move people, communities and institutions towards social change.”
Weeklong “game jam” bringing together game developers, caregivers, and people who receive care from across the world to design gaming experiences to challenge harmful stereotypes about care work and change perspectives on the role that caregiving plays in families and communities. Gaming or game design experience not necessary to participate.
Several launch events will precede the game jam, including a virtual roundtable on November 30th from 1:00-2:30pm ET featuring leading game designers, culture change experts, people with disabilities, and caregivers. Follow #CareJam2021 for updates.
Leading caregiving advocates and gaming innovators based in the United States and United Kingdom, including:
Virtual Roundtable & Care Jam Kick-Off: 1:00-2:30pm ET on December 2, 2021
Virtual Care Jam: 2:30pm GMT on December 2 until 2:30 ET on December 9, 2021
Sign up to attend Care Jam and related events here.
Caring Across Generations (US): Caring Across Generations is a national campaign of families, caregivers, people with disabilities, and aging Americans working to transform the way we care in this country. By harnessing the power of online and grassroots organizing and culture change work, we are shifting how our nation values caregiving and calling for policy solutions that enable all of us to live well and age with dignity.
Code Coven (UK/US): Code Coven the first global award-winning games industry accelerator for underrepresented talent. Code Coven’s mission is to elevate marginalised voices and increase representation at all levels within the interactive media, games and creative technology spaces, both off and on screen.
Counterpoints Arts (UK): Counterpoints Arts is a leading national organisation in the field of arts, migration and cultural change. The PopChange (Pop Culture & Social Change) Initiative — funded by Unbound Philanthropy and Open Society Foundation — explores how the power of pop culture can be harnessed for social change in order to shift the way we talk, think and feel about migration and displacement in the UK. Together with a network of cultural innovators, creators, funders and activists, Counterpoints Arts is championing new ideas and cross-sector collaborations across comedy, gaming and TV/film.
National Domestic Workers Alliance (US): National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) is the leading voice for dignity and fairness for millions of domestic workers in the United States. Founded in 2007, NDWA works for respect, recognition and inclusion in labor protections for domestic workers, the majority of whom are immigrants and women of color. NDWA is powered by over 70 affiliate organizations and local chapters and by a growing membership base of nannies, house cleaners and care workers in over 20 states. NDWA has created Alia, an online platform to help domestic workers access benefits not otherwise granted to them, in addition to advancing bills of rights for domestic workers in cities and states across the country.