Civilization, Ponycorns Creators Named Among Backbone’s Top 15 Canadians in Digital Technology

It’s not enough that my daughter Cassandra created the artwork, puzzle design and voice work for her first video game at the tender age of five. Now, Backbone Magazine has named her as one of the Top 15 Canadians in Digital Technology.

Cassandra Creighton has been named to Backbone Magazine's list of Top 15 Canadians in Digital Technology

Wanna know who else made the list? Legendary Civilization game developer Sid Meier, who keynoted last year’s Game Developers Conference.

i Got All the Awards

Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure is an entrant in this year’s Independent Games Festival, so she has a real shot at winding up at GDC herself to accept all the awards, including Most Prodigious Use of Invisible Walls and the HervĂ© Velasquez Memorial Award for Digital Inclination. It’s very possible that if Ponycorns is nominated, Cassie can actually meet Sid at GDC 2012. That’s incredible! Wouldn’t you have wanted that opportunity at five years old? IGF judges: you can make this happen.

Cassie’s game enjoyed international fame and critical acclaim after delighting fans the world over. Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure has been featured in digital and print publications as far away as Spain, Japan, and Russia. The game was a finalist in the 2011 IndieCade Festival, and many games journalists have hailed it as an early contender for Game of the Year 2011 since its release in March .

7 thoughts on “Civilization, Ponycorns Creators Named Among Backbone’s Top 15 Canadians in Digital Technology

    1. Ryan Henson Creighton

      Maybe, until you consider the ramifications of a 5-year-old girl making a video game.

      First, there’s the “women in video games” angle. The video game industry is woefully under-represented by anything but jocular white males between 18 and 30, and the games show it. Cassie is an inspiration for burgeoning female game devs … many have told me so themselves.

      Then there’s the generational angle. We haven’t really seen video game development pass through generations from parents to children because the medium is so new, but we have seen generations of talent in other, more venerable media like film (Judy Garland -> Liza Minnelli, Kirk Douglas -> Michael Douglas, Martin Sheen -> Charlie Sheen & Emilio Estevez, etc). i think it’s just dawning on many of us that our talent in this industry can carry over to our kids. Ponycorns is a symbol of that.

      There’s the “kids and computers” angle. i’ve started teaching game development to grade three students because i was dismayed to find that computer education in elementary schools hasn’t change one lick since i taught it fifteen years ago. i think a lot of people were inspired to see someone so young being so involved, because elementary school-aged kids are often overlooked in the area of tech education (we focus all our attention on high school students, and by then i think there’s a very big missed opportunity). This ties into the various “game-based learning” initiatives. Ponycorns is a success story that will help that movement along.

      Finally, there’s the “girls and math” angle. There are a lot of articles and studies floating describing how girls are not being allowed to play, and are being subtly excluded from or turned off STEM stuff (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Of course, the highest-paying jobs in the world are predicated on these areas of study. The story of a little girl being given such a world-renowned head start in STEM is a coup for people who want to shatter the glass ceiling and see wage equality for women in the next generations.

      The story of Cassie and her Ponycorns game, and what it all represents, earned her a well-deserved place on Backbone’s list.

      1. Mark

        I see the significance of showing that audiences are hungry for rich kid-created interactive content and opening the door for kids, especially girls, to create more with their parents.

        I think it comes down to measuring influence of this milestone. I think Cassie’s influence on digital technology is yet to be seen. Obviously many people disagree with me, including Backbone magazine, and feel that she’s already had a huge influence on digital technology.

        Anyways, thanks for the thoughtful response and congrats on the success of the game.

        1. Ryan Henson Creighton

          (remember, too, that these guys have magazines to sell … and lumping a bunch of obvious choices in with a 5-year-old girl on the cover might help them move a few more copies … :)

      2. Mushyrulez

        It isn’t only because it’s a five-year-old girl creating a game, though – I’m sure there are at least several five-year-old girls who have made computer games, somewhere. It’s not impossible, especially with so many gamer programmer dads around, right?

        The main difference that I’d think made Ponycorns so successful was all the publicity, which quickly becomes a virtuous circle – after all, people only talk about things that other people talk about, right?

        (Congratulations, by the way!)

        1. Ryan Henson Creighton

          A few dads reached out to me to tell me about the games they made with their kids. But not many. And not all of the kids were girls. And perhaps most importantly, none of the games were necessarily playable and enjoyable. These differences give Ponycorns a distinct edge that make it worth talking about.

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