Mentor and Volunteer Guidelines

Thank you for considering volunteering to mentor with DMG! If this is your first time volunteering or mentoring with DMG – or if it's been a while – please take a moment to read through these guidelines.

While we greatly value the contributions of everyone who supports DMG with their time and expertise, we strive to center and prioritize people who are socially and structurally marginalized in tech and game spaces, especially gender-marginalized and racialized people. We expect all mentors and volunteers to do the same.

What is my role during the program?

  • You are an adviser and a resourcenot a teacher or instructor.
  • You help participants solve their own problems.
  • You lend your experience and insight so new game makers can focus on the parts of the process they find most interesting and valuable.

Expect to learn as much from the participants as they will learn from you.

  • Mentors are, without exception, engaged and trusted members of the DMG and/or Gamma Space communities. Everything we know about being a good mentor we've learned from mentors and facilitators at our programs, and owe a huge debt of gratitude to everyone who has helped set the tone for a truly supportive and collaborative community.

What is a DMG intensive?

It’s not a "learn to program" course. We don’t just teach a specific development environment or language, or how to make a certain type of game or interactive experience. Depending on the program, we may provide:

  • A crash course in/survey of a wide range of technical and creative aspects of game development (design principles, composing, visual art, project management, and more)
  • A game design vocabulary and opportunities to develop literacy around play
  • A safe and open place to talk about what games mean to us
  • A structured environment for individuals to find and express their creative voice and discover what interests them most about making games
  • A time and place for participants to learn from and support one another
  • Resources and access to new networks, including educators, investors, academics, industry and funders

Understanding DMG's goals and values

DMG is a member organization that values collaborative learning, free self-expression, affirmation and creation. Learn more about us here:

Please read and affirm our Code of Conduct, and talk to an organizer if you are confused about anything.

Understanding the goals of an intensive

Our intensive programs are workshops that last one to six months, with a set cohort of participants selected through an application process. The group meets two to three times per week, and receives one-on-one mentorship and peer support for the duration of the program. The purpose of our long programs is to:

  • Create a friendly, open, collaborative experience for participants
  • Create vital new networks and open up access to resources for new members of the community
  • Transfer tacit knowledge from experienced creators to new members
  • Provide a safe and playful space for exploring creative ideas, as well as learning problem-solving, technical, and organizational skills
  • Facilitate meaningful connections between participants and more experienced members of the DMG and Toronto game communities
  • Expose established members of the community to valuable new perspectives, experiences and knowledge
  • Help create makers, mentors, collaborators, and friends out of everyone involved
  • Contribute to systemic change in the games industry that will result in more resources, autonomy and liberation for everyone, prioritizing those who have been excluded from and harmed by it

Who are you mentoring?

Intensive participants come from a broad scope backgrounds and have a range of skills, interests and knowledge. Get to know them! Trust and respect the unique experiences and skills they bring.

Inclusive Language and Behavior

It is critical that a safe, stress-free and inclusive environment is maintained at all times. Here’s how you can do your part:

Respect Diverse Identities

  • Do not make assumptions about identity, experiences, or pronouns and always use a person's pronouns if they've been communicated (default to "they" if not)
  • Allow participants space and time to disclose as much or as little information about their identity and background as they wish
  • Treat all participants with respect and assume they know more about what they are trying to create than you do

Respect Space and Agency

Do not touch or take the keyboard away. The keyboard is lava!

  • Grabbing someone's keyboard can be off-putting, scary, and demoralizing
  • Give clear directions and let participants do their own work – if you're frustrated by the speed a participant is learning, you're in the wrong place
  • If you absolutely must type something (chances are you don't), ask "May I?”, go slow and explain what you are doing

Focus on the participants

  • Be available and attentive to participants throughout the work session.
  • Stay on the sidelines, but "read the room" by monitoring facial expressions visual cues that signal frustration. Ask, "What are you struggling with? Can I help?" if it's clear someone is struggling
  • Do not interrupt or talk over participants. Listen, listen, listen.
  • Avoid in-jokes and lengthy private conversations with other mentors - this can be alienating. Include participants in casual conversations.
  • Understand that participants' goals with their projects may not match your own, and that's ok. We are here to support self-determined outcomes.
  • Don't suggest that participants drastically alter their projects; help them improve on what they've chosen to make.

"Do"s and "Don't"s for Respectful Critique and Discussion

Instead of… Try…
"This doesn't make sense." Help articulate problems "Can you explain your thought process?"
"No." "You're heading in the right direction" "Yes, and…"
"It doesn't work" "It's broken" "Let's try to improve this part."
"This is just like [Idea X]." "Check out these projects – they're doing something similar. What can we learn from them?"
"Do you have any questions?" Encourage questions, and respond to them positively "What questions do you have?" "What an interesting question! I've wondered that myself."

Thanks!

  • Mentors past: You set the tone and a great example for this wonderfully collaborative community.
Last revised: March 7, 2019