An inspiring voice in the conversation about the future of women in the video game industry, Girls Level Up profiles a summer camp where girls are given three weeks to make their own video game demo. Camp Founder, Laila Shabir, who grew up in a conservative Muslim neighborhood in the Middle East before coming to the United States, provides a unique perspective on the challenges facing girls who love video games and dream of making them.
About the Filmmaker
Anne Edgar is a writer, director, and advocate for girls and women in STEM education. Before co-founding the documentary company, Artifact Nonfiction, she began her career as an assistant, creative executive, and screenwriter working with filmmakers including Fred Roos, Warren Beatty, and Sophia Coppola. She was Executive Producer of the documentary Operation Popcorn, which aired in 2016 on Public Television’s Emmy-award-winning series, America Reframed. She is also Executive Producer of the interactive documentary project Critical Path, a seven-year-long-and-counting documentation of the evolution of video games.
Growing up in the 80s, I loved movies and television. I still do, both as a viewer and as someone who’s worked in Entertainment her entire adult life. But I find myself hoping video games will not go the way of Hollywood, which has been dominated by white male filmmakers for over a hundred years.
It was inspiring to observe GMG girls transform themselves from girls who love games into creative, problem solving, determined game makers. I glimpsed a possible future where women game developers from diverse backgrounds are commonplace, and where the interactive experiences they create are beyond anything we can imagine today.
And then there’s Laila. Getting to know her has deepened my appreciation of how we all stand on the shoulders of our teachers, mentors, and parents to realize our potential not just as “makers”, but as human beings.