Mentor and Volunteer Guidelines

Thank you for considering volunteering to mentor with Dames Making Games! If this is your first time volunteering with DMG, 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 genderqueer, femme, nonbinary, Two Spirit folks and Black, Indigenous and women of colour in our space, and 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, active 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. We do 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

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 (Damage Camps) are workshops that last four to six weeks 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 for the duration of the program. The purpose of our long programs is to:

  • Create a friendly, open, collaborative experience for participants
  • Provide a safe and playful space for exploring creative ideas, as well as learning problem-solving and technical 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
  • Help create makers, mentors, collaborators, and friends out of everyone involved

Who are you mentoring?

Intensive participants come from a wide variety of backgrounds and have a range of skills, interests and knowledge. Get to know them!

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

Sexual jokes, remarks, and advances are never funny or appropriate

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?"
  • Avoid in-jokes and lengthy private conversations with other mentors - this can be alienating. Include participants in casual conversations.
  • Try to find and respect the core idea of the game and understand its style, even if it's something that doesn't appeal to you personally
  • Don't suggest that participants drastically alter their mechanics; help them improve on the game 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 [Game X]." "Check out these games – 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."


  • Hat-tip to RailsBridge, a volunteer-run organization that produces free Ruby on Rails workshops for women and their friends
  • Mentors past: You set the tone and a great example for this wonderfully collaborative community.
Last revised: March 7, 2019