Salon / NetworkPopChange

Pop Culture Meets Social Change Retreat 2021: Gaming (Day 3)



Friday, 19 March 2021






By invitation.

Certain events will be live-streamed to Facebook and Youtube — check the programme.

Hosted by


Salon / NetworkPopChange

Pop Culture Meets Social Change Retreat 2021: Gaming (Day 3)

Day 3: Gaming

Please note this event is taking place online by invitation only. Select events will be live-streamed to Counterpoints Arts’ Facebook and Youtube; see below for links where available. All times listed are in GMT/UTC.

9:30 – 10:30
Coffee Hour
10:30 – 10:50 Game Showcase
Get a taste of Kind Words, a BAFTA-winning game by studio Popcannibal about writing anonymous letters of comfort and encouragement to real people – and sending requests for the same. It’s about nurturing one’s mental health, and all to a beautiful lo-fi soundtrack.
Daily Reflections / Day Overview — Iain Dodgeon, Shay Thompson feat. Mohammed Ali
10:50 – 11:40 Amal/Hope: Putting Lived experience at the Heart of Game Development — Malath Abbas
Indie games developer Malath Abbas, discusses the process of creating his upcoming game, Hope. Depicting the experiences of refugees settling in the UK, he explores the challenges of drawing from real life.
Building Code Coven: a bootcamp for marginalized developers — Tara Mustapha
Tara Mustapha shares her journey building Code Coven, an online community for marginalized developers. Learn about the opportunities to get involved and how to move from being a gamer to a games developer.
Changing the Landscape of Who Creates Games: What’s Happening Now — Shay Thompson, August Aiden Black, Tara Mustapha and Malath Abbas
Our panel comes together to discuss the wider games industry landscape, exploring the opportunities and challenges for bringing more diverse stories, characters and communities into interactive entertainment. From indie to the big studio, it’s a chance to find out more about how to be a part of shaping this exciting time in games.
11:40 – 11:50 Game Play Live TEA BREAK — The Night Fisherman with Antony de Fault
Grab a cup of tea and watch/play along with this 10 minute game, The Night Fisherman, developed by FarFew Giants. Experience a poignant tale, which beautifully presents the struggles of a refugee. Access the game for free on Steam.
11:50 – 12:30 Mental Health and Games: the good, the bad and is there an ugly? — Naomi Mwasambili
Naomi’s work (Chauna) as a clinician and games developer has led her to build games helping improve the mental health of marginalised young people. She shares her challenges and learnings, including the importance of ensuring games like hers are evidenced-based.
  How Soundscapes Shape Perceptions — James Cook
From designing medieval soundscapes for games to creating interactive historical audio tours, James will explore the role of audio design in perpetuating misconceptions and prejudices about the past which carry on into the present; and what historians can do to help bring about change.
Building diversity within larger games studios — Kurston Timothy
Ubisoft’s Kurston Timothy discusses the mission of The Black Game Pros, a community founded to generate and foster more representation and diversity in the broader video game industry.
The Depiction of Poverty in Games — Erica Lynn Rosenthal
Erica, Director of Research at the Norman Lear Center, shares their latest work exploring the visual representation of poverty in video games and its impact on players.
12:30 – 12:35  Morning Wrap Up — Shay Thompson
12:35 – 13:30 LUNCH BREAK Inc. Lets Play live play through of some extraordinary games
SESSION 2 WORKSHOPS (happening concurrently in different rooms)
13:30 – 14:30 The Power of a Voice: The Making of Tell Me Why — August Aiden Black
August Aiden Black is the voice actor of Tyler Ronan, the main protagonist in the acclaimed interactive adventure video game, Tell My Why. He will discuss how his experience as a trans man helped shape the first video game from a major developer featuring a lead transgender character.
Activating Real World Impact — Nikolaj Moller and Maria Sayans
UN Live and ustwo games talk through their experience of collaboration on Alba: A Wildlife Adventure. Sharing practicalities and advice, they will discuss how to form similar partnerships on projects with the potential to bring about real-world impact. This workshop will include a playthrough.
Writing diverse voices and lived experiences into game narratives — Corey Brotherson
Drawing from his experience as a professional writer working across diverse media including ITV and Playstation, Corey will share his learnings on writing diverse and engaging characters in games and how to avoid common pitfalls.
Using games to inoculate against fake news — Jon Roozenbeek
From Fake News to conspiracy theories, the gamification of truth was the launchpad for this innovative series of games from University of Cambridge. Learn more about how the team put behavioural research into practice to help the public spot misinformation.
14:30 – 15:30 BREAK
15:30 – 16:15  Speed Networking
16:15 – 16:55 Informal Break Out Spaces
16:55 – 17:00 Wrap Up — Shay Thompson‘s final reflections for the day
17:00 – 18:00
GAME TIME HAPPY HOUR — Black Girl Gamers X Counterpoints Arts Livestream on Twitch
Join gamers, comedians and artists over on Twitch as they compete in our live streamed ‘Game Time Happy Hour’ hosted by Black Girl Gamers. Hosted by InDeeDee (Black Girl Gamers) and featuring contestants Evan Narcisse (Narrative Designer, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales), Stephanie Ijoma (Founder, NNESAGA) and Mo Omar (Comedian).  They’ll be competing for the crown of “Tastiest Cake” in the bonkers game of Cake Bash, while chatting about the games they’ve grown up with and are excited by now; together with the value of gaming communities, and reflections on what’s happening around diverse representation in the gaming world. Black Girl Gamers is an online safe space and platform that heightens the visibility of Black Women in Gaming and advocates for Diversity & Inclusion.



Antony de Fault


Antony is creative director of Far Few Giants. He’s also Wireframe’s game writing and narrative design columnist, a freelancer in the aforementioned disciplines, and a former English teacher. His work focuses on social justice issues, in particular putting the player into complex ethical dilemmas.

August Aiden Black


August Aiden Black is an actor and voice artist operating out of Los Angeles. August booked the role of "Tyler Ronan" in Tell Me Why and went down in history as playing the first playable transgender character in an AAA studio game.

Corey Brotherson


Corey Brotherson is an award-winning writer, editor and creative consultant, who has worked within the games industry since 2001 as a journalist, critic and content producer for some of the medium’s biggest brands, including Sony PlayStation, King and Apple.

Deanne @InDeeDee


Hi there, my name is InDeeDee! I’m Twtich streamer and host specializing in gaming, interviewing, reviewing & stream school teachings. I enjoy giving all kinds of advice & growing communities with my knowledge and passion for streaming & gaming. Deanne is on the POC in Play X BAFTA Games #BHMGames100 list 2020.

Erica Lynn Rosenthal


Erica Rosenthal is the Director of Research at the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center. She came to the Lear Center in 2011 and led research for the Hollywood, Health & Society program for more than seven years. Currently, she oversees the Lear Center's and the Media Impact Project's portfolio of research focused on understanding media narratives and studying their impact on audiences' knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour.

Evan Narcisse


Evan Narcisse is a writer and consultant who works in video games, comic books, and TV. He was a journalist and critic for many years, having previously written for The Atlantic, Time Magazine, Kotaku, io9, and The New York Times.

Iain Dodgeon


Iain Dodgeon is Director of OKRE. A former medical doctor and producer with over fifteen years‘ experience with the entertainment industries, he previously led Wellcome’s work in broadcast, games and film. He sits on Advisory and Editorial Boards for organisations including the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers and the BGI.

James Cook


James is Lecturer in Early Music at the University of Edinburgh, teaching music history, theory, and analysis. He was co-founder of the REMOSS (Representations of Early Music on Stage and Screen) study group which organises regular roundtables and conferences in this area.

Jo Glanville


Jo Glanville is a journalist, editor and radio producer. Her writing on culture and current affairs has been published in the Guardian, London Review of Books, New York Times, Financial Times and Times Literary Supplement, among other publications.

Jon Roozenbeek


Jon Roozenbeek is the Google Jigsaw Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab in the Department of Psychology. His research focuses on inoculation theory.

Kurston Timothy


I'm an easy-going, career-focused individual who is always seeking out ways to better my workflow and to learn new things. I believe that finding the most efficient ways to do you job will truly make your everyday tasks easier and more enjoyable. I love what I do and I cannot wait for my next learning experience. Kurston is Co-lead / Co-Founder of the Black Game Pros Initiative and ERG.

Malath Abbas


Malath Abbas is a freelance game designer, artist and producer working on experimental and meaningful games in Scotland. Malath is a founding member of Biome Collective, and produced and games and interactive installations including Killbox and Shpeel. He is a founder and producer of the game festival Arcadia.

Maria Sayans


Maria has been helping games companies succeed in the digital space, build great brands, and engage players for nearly two decades.

Marzena Zukowska


Marzena is a London-based organiser, communications strategist and co-founder of Polish Migrant Organise for Change (POMOC).

Mo Omar


Somali-born, Cardiff-raised and London-based, Mo Omar is a fast-rising stand-up comedian with a unique perspective on culture, faith and love. Recently making his TV debut on Harry Hills Clubnite on Channel 4, Mo was a finalist in the BBC Introducing Radio 4 Comedy Award and won the Leicester Square New Comedian Of The Year competition in 2017.

Mohammed Ali


Art meets faith, identity and social change in Ali’s work, adorning the canvas of walls and public spaces and continues to change the visual landscapes of the cities we live in. His art has inspired and informed a new generation across the globe, to boldly express their identity and ideals. He has been a pioneer in the street-art movement, fusing street art with Islamic script and patterns, delivering powerful and moving messages. Mohammed founded Soul City Arts in Birmingham.

Naomi Mwasambili


Hear from Naomi, who has been working in the area of social innovation, mental health and research for over a decade. Starting her career in research, she has worked as a clinician and more recently been focused on service and product design in digital healthcare. Inspired to bring more play into her healthcare work she has been applying gamification within training and digital health products she has been developing.

Nikolaj Møller


Nikolaj works for UN Live, and is a Cambridge-trained philosopher with an interest in practical ethics and behavioural science.

Shay Thompson


Shay Thompson is a presenter and journalist working in the games industry. Shay previously hosted McLaren’s Shadowcast and appeared in other McLaren Shadow Project related content on YouTube. Outside of that, Shay has also hosted panels and podcasts for Bafta and is currently appearing on the BBC Sounds podcast, Press X to Continue.

Stephanie Ijoma


Games consultant & Founder at NNESAGA, Stephanie Ijoma has created one of U.K's leading gaming and entertainment platforms that strives towards championing diversity, inclusion and representation within the space. NNESAGA has been featured in Forbes, WWD, BBC, Guardian, CNBC and more.

Tara Mustapha


Tara Mustapha (she/her) is an award-winning, seasoned game designer and producer. Her experience in gaming is vast, as she's worked with studios such as Microsoft, and EA. She founded Code Coven in 2018, with the aim of making careers in the games industry achievable and nurturing for marginalized communities.

More about this

Pop Culture meets Social Change Retreat 2021

field note

5 March 2021

Welcome to our first online ‘Pop Culture meets Social Change Retreat’.