The Australian developer, educator, and games activist is one of ten people chosen to participate in the inaugural IGDA Foundation’s Next Gen Leaders fellowship program.
The program has been established to retain and train the next generation of leadership within the game development community at large, with a specific focus on marginalised groups at higher risk of leaving the industry.
Speaking with MCV Pacific, van Deventer said, “I’m absolutely thrilled to be considered for this program and I can’t wait to learn as much as possible to bring back to Australia and New Zealand. This program will assist in activating so many plans I’ve had for so long, and it would have been so much harder (and slower!) without this opportunity”.
Leena is the Director and Co-founder of WiDGET, the first Australian not-for-profit focused exclusively on supporting women and non-binary game developers, established in 2013. This leadership training coincides with a strategic shift in focus and structure for the organisation, with a huge 2017 planned. WiDGET will soon ‘level up’ from primarily providing in-the-trenches support to its 700+ members and begin to commission research, along with workshops and events, support for personal development and training, and fundraising.
She has also taught interactive storytelling at both Swinburne and RMIT Universities, and last year released her first book, “Game Changers: From Minecraft to Misogyny, the fight for the future of videogames” with Dr Dan Golding for Affirm Press.
The Next Gen Leaders Program, in partnership with Xbox, affords the participants a travel stipend, a two-day leadership summit, an all-access pass to GDC (provided by UBM), and a mentor for 12-months, individually selected to assist the program participant realise their professional goals.
Speaking of the program the IGDA Foundation says, “These exceptional developers, who are also members of under-represented minorities in game development, have shown a profound commitment to their craft and community. They represent the future of game development, and we are very excited to support them in their development careers.”
The other program participants hail from Ireland, Canada, and the USA. van Deventer added, “Representing the entire Southern Hemisphere is a bit daunting for one person, I’d love to see more people applying from all over the world and hopefully after I’ve seen what the program is like I’ll be able to assist and encourage people with their applications next year”
A member of both of our Women In Games List, in 2015, Leena won the inaugural Pioneer Award at the Women in Games Awards presented by Xbox and was a finalist for Woman of the Year at the 2016 event.
In closing van Deventer said, “I’m excited to be a sponge about all things narrative design, activism, and to learn more about myself, too. Thank you to the IGDA Foundation for this fabulous opportunity to attend my very first GDC”.