“Oh, that’s a boy’s thing.” “Girls aren’t good at games.” “You’re only playing games for attention.” Phrases girls will hear all too often in the esports and gaming industry. Australia’s Girl Geek Academy is changing all that. Written for girls aged 7-12, the Girl Geeks series encourages young women to think about technology, gaming, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). There’s a huge gap in the STEM industry for women. This is typically due to technology not being seen as a “girly” thing. Girl Geek Academy’s book series is a fictional story covering the lives of four young girls. Think of it like The Saddle Club for technology, or The Baby-Sitters Club for gaming.
#QUT alumni @SarahMoran, @tammybutow & @lisyk are educating & inspiring the next gen of women in STEM with their new Girl Geek Academy book series! Check it out: https://t.co/qe8VcOFhAQ #qutstem #womeninstem @qutalumni pic.twitter.com/fUgFl7muH7
— QUT SciEng Faculty (@QUTSciEng) July 11, 2019
The first book is about a hackathon. It’s a competition where people solve problems through technology. Four girls, Hamsa, Eve, Niki, and Maggie are thrown together as a team — a girl gang! They must put aside their differences and work together. Each book is designed to follow one of the girl’s journeys. The girls navigate friendships, take risks, and “embrace their inner geek”. The first is for Hamsa. She’s the “too cool for school” kid. Hamsa faces challenges many young people encounter through school.
The second book is one for the gamers in the room. Game On! follows Niki’s journey. As a keen gamer and coder, Niki’s world revolves around video games and skateboarding. When the biggest esports tournament announces a junior competition in her town, Niki is the first to enter. But like with many esports tournaments, challenges are thrown her way. Some challenges come as a result of Niki being a girl. Others are problems many players face as they move into competitive gaming. But Niki has the support of her friends. Unlike the Girl Gamer Festival, Niki’s competition was non-gender specific. The issues spoken about in the book are certainly seen in the wider industry. Game On! is a great book for young girls, but women of all ages will resonate with this fantastic story.
This book series is designed to break down boundaries around women in gaming and tech. Inside the cover of the book is a definition about who a geek is. It’s not the “unfashionable or socially inept person” many people think. Instead, a geek is someone who is passionate about a particular topic. If you’re a StarCraft geek, you are super passionate about StarCraft. An Overwatch geek might have every skin available and every statue under the sun. A geek isn’t a derogatory term; it’s something to be embraced. That’s why Girl Geek Academy has written these books:
We wanted to tell stories to young girls because we know how great stories about girl geeks can be… This book series uses technology as a plot device and has fun with putting technology onto paper. There is something magical about the journey young girls go through as they learn about who they are as an individual and how friendship can make them stronger.
The series is written by the wonderful Alex Miles in partnership with Geek Girl Academy. Based in Melbourne, Alex has written in the Zac Power series and published children’s series. The first two books were launched in Melbourne in June, published by Penguin Books. The final two books are on their way. The Hackathon and Game On! are available to purchase on Amazon for only $10 AUD! If you know any young girls, this is the perfect series to get them into gaming and technology. Or just read it yourself. Even as a grown adult, I found these books certainly resonated with me.
Michelle is a Content Producer in the realms of innovation and technology. Known as the “Hackathon Queen” you’ll often find her on stage MC’ing or speaking on a range of topics from artificial intelligence, to business, community engagement, the future of work, and esports. With a background in both science and arts, Michelle writes extensively on a range of topics including innovation, startups, corporate culture, esports, business development, and more. She has a passion for gaming and combines this with her experience in a range of industries. Michelle brings a unique insight into esports innovation and draws many parallels between the physical world of sport, and the digital world of esports.