She’s Got Game
Lisy Kane’s Girl Geek Academy wants to help girls level up as developers.
Board game brought to life!
Some people know from an early age exactly what they want to be when they grow up.
Lisy Kane was not one of them.
“I played videogames from as early as I can remember,” Kane says. But attending all-girls schools in Brisbane, it didn’t occur to her that it could be a viable career. “I didn’t think about the fact that people make games at all.”
She’s come a long way. At 26, she co-founded Girl Geek Academy, a Melbourne-based organisation whose mission is to get more women into the game and tech industries. Now 31, she is lead producer for indie studio League of Geeks, whose debut, the digital board game Armello, made waves for its delightful fairytale universe and complex design.
It took years of trial and error to find her calling. After high school, Kane pursued a business degree at the University of Queensland but decided it wasn’t for her. She went back to study music and film – and withdrew again.
In 2009, she returned to school at the Queensland University of Technology and discovered it offered a degree in game design. “As soon as I saw that I was like, ‘that’s what I want to do with the rest of my life’,” Kane says.
After completing her degree, she moved to to Melbourne – the heart of Australia’s game industry – and joined a quartet of other women to found Girl Geek Academy. It was a way to build her platform and address a problem that she, as someone who had never been encouraged to follow her passion, had experienced firsthand.
“We always get told that women don’t want to be in tech,” she says, “but they don’t have the option delivered to them the way men do. The whole pipeline is broken.”
Girl Geek Academy initially ran one-off events like hackathons and game jams. But the team quickly expanded into education and early-career support. Today the Academy hosts coding workshops, networking events, community programs, residencies, teacher-training sessions and more. A series of young-adult books featuring girls who are into technology is forthcoming.
When Kane was hired as an associate producer and community manager at League of Geeks, she was the only woman among eight employees. Today, 11 of its 25 employees are women. “We’re focusing on being a really awesome and ethical company – one that gives back to the community,” she says.
For Kane, gender parity in the game industry isn’t just about fairness; it’s about making better games. “A more diverse team will result in a better creative product,” she says. “The more different people you have making games, the more different stories you’re going to have. And you get people playing games who wouldn’t have before because there was nothing that spoke to them.”
We always get told that women don’t want to be in tech. But they don’t have the option delivered to them the way men do. The whole pipeline is broken.
Kane has some advice for young women who want to follow in her footsteps. “Find your girl gang,” she says. Also, ask parents for help, and remember that there are many ways to work in games and tech. “It’s not just about writing code,” she adds.