Things That Matter

The Gaming Industry Isn’t Known For Diversity, The Latinx Games Festival Is Working Hard To Change That

For the past few years the gaming industry has gotten a bad, very bad reputation when it comes to gender, sexual and ethnic diversity. Even though video game fans are as diverse as society itself, women, LGBTQIA and people of color are underrepresented. This extends to how games are marketed, to diversity in professionals in the industry and to networking opportunities.

Even though gaming is as widespread as say, watching television, and we play more than ever before, some online communities formed mostly of white men believe it is their right to claim the entirety of the gaming world for themselves. Yes, really. 

So Jason Vega created the Latinx Games Festival, which just had its first and very successful run.

Credit: Instagram. @LatinxGamesFestival

Jason Vega is a famous Latino gamer who saw an opportunity in bringing together gamers and developers from both sides of the border. So professionals from the United States and Latin America, a region that has a nascent and in crescendo independent games scene, got together at the Museum of Latin Art (MOLA) in Long Beach, California. September 14, 2019, will be remembered as a watershed moment for collaboration among Latino gamers.

Networking is king!  

Credit: Instagram. @LatinxGamesFestival

The idea behind the festival was to bring people of color together to identify and fight against political, social and economic obstacles that impede their inclusion in the digital games industry. Vega hopes that this event will plant the seeds for future networks of professionals. He also advocates for a DIY culture: we got the tools and we got the creativity, so a trabajar, mijos!

And the attendees heard some pretty inspiring words!

Credit: Twitter. @latinxgamesfestival

Vega said in the inaugural address, as reported by Latino Rebels: “This story is not about me. It’s about everyone in this room, community organizers, all you here. [It’s] also about using my own money, the sleepless nights, the pain you feel in your skin when you’ve been working too hard and your eyes don’t feel the same. You don’t wake up the same. You have nightmares about things going wrong”. Preach, hermano! If something can distinguish the Latino gamer community in the future is that sense of solidarity that makes us who we are.

And there were some great speakers such as Trinidad Hermida!

Credit: Instagram. @LatinxGamesFestival

This Latina is the head of diversity and inclusion at Niantic, one of the industry’s giants (just to give you an idea, the company developed Pokemon Go!, perhaps the most successful Augmented Reality game of all time). Hermida is an amazing woman who has broken many glass ceilings in the  digital technology industry, working for companies like Dell. She has a great philosophy, “setting a standard of incorporating everyone’s genius, we can change the game.” We are right there with you! 

And Fernando Reyes Medina, a wonderboy of the industry.

Credit: Instagram. @LatinxGamesFestival

There is some great, young Latino talent in the industry. That is why Vega included Fernando Reyes Medina in the speaker program. He was born and raised in Mexico City (eso, un chilango, carajo!). He has worked in such big projects as incorporating the Microsoft Cortana personal assistant into the Xbox platform. He is changing the industry from within: he is part of Latinx in Gaming, an initiative born within Microsoft. The future is shiny for him and we are sure he inspired more than one gamer in the room. 

The event was a success and fans were quick to thank the organizers.

Credit: Twitter. @_Ben_Wu

Yes! This is what Vega was aiming for, the establishment of networks of professional collaboration and emotional support. We gotta stick together! Ben Wu, who identifies as Asian-Latino, is literally over the moon after the event

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11 Free Classes To Help You Walkout Of Quarantine As A Better Version Of Yourself

Things That Matter

11 Free Classes To Help You Walkout Of Quarantine As A Better Version Of Yourself

asisebaila/ Instagram

OK…so most of us have now been under stay-at-home quarantine orders for a few weeks now. And although I’ve alternated mostly between getting some work done and then eating (not well, I might add) and sleeping – I’ve been interested in trying to do something different during all of this.

Sure I could binge watch all the new series on Netflix or endlessly scroll through my Facebook and Instagram feeds, but I’m already bored with that. So what’s one to do?

Here is a roundup of some of the top free, fun, and cool classes that you can take online right now to help keep yourself busy:

Brush Up On Your Latin American History With A University Professor

Credit: JenneBella / Instagram

We all know that we’re taught very little – if anything at all – about Latinx culture in the United States. Thankfully, we have access to great online resources, our families, and Latino literature to help keep us informed. Well now you can also sign up for the University of Houston’s Latin American History Through the Novel course.

Channel That Inner Creativity Into Art

Brit + Co is offering all of their classes for free during the pandemic. All you have to do to take advantage of their top-selling courses is use the code SELFCARE at checkout and you’ll quickly be learning how to decorate cakes, take wedding photos, improve your Instagram skills, and so much more.

Become A Tech Genius And Learn How To Code

Credit: Pixabay

If HTML, JavaScript and JPEG are foreign concepts, then a coding class is the way to get computer literate. This free coding class can teach you coding basics and so much more with over 120 hours of training. It’s a great starting point for anyone, from those looking for web development basics all the way to pros looking to brush up their skills.

Get Yourself Dance Floor Ready For Once We Can Finally Go Out Again

Credit: asisebaila/ Instagram

Everyone can dance, all it takes is some music — and tunes aren’t even needed for some forms of dance. Whether looking to learn ballet or just how to groove at a party, there’s a dance lesson for you. 305 Fitness has a plethora of free classes on YouTube.

Get Yourself An Ivy League Education

Credit: @classcentral / Twitter

The eight Ivy League schools are offering hundreds of online courses to the public for free.

Dhawal Shah, founder of the online course aggregator Class Central, compiled a list of more than 400 classes that are available in subjects as varied as Machine Learning for Data Science and Analytics from Columbia University; HOPE: Human Odyssey to Political Existentialism from Princeton University; The Science of Well-Being from Yale; and Gamification from the University of Pennsylvania.

Work On Your Fitness

Credit: Aly Song / Flickr

Not interested in stimulating your brain? How about your body? Many gym chains across the country have shuttered but are offering online classes for free.

Peloton is offering new users a 90-day trial on its app. This news comes as the company announced the closing of its showrooms until at least March 29. It added that this week it began producing content from its new studios in New York, “but it will be entirely closed to the public until further notice.”

Golds Gym is offering free access to its app, Goldsamp, until the end of May, where more than 600 audio and video workouts along with DJ mixes get you ready to work up a sweat. Planet Fitness is offering “Home Work-Ins” streamed live at 7 p.m. ET daily on its Facebook page.

Get Into Those Yoga Poses

Credit: Yoga With Adriene

When it comes to online yoga classes, over 6 million people trust Adriene. I’ve personally ditched the couch and went through a few videos. And they are great. In the playlists, you’ll find 30-day challenges for regular yoga practice, which work equally well for complete beginners and people who love sweating at gyms. Plus, Adriene and her doggie are super cute — so you’ll definitely enjoy their company. 

Take Ana Lilia’s 5-Minute Breathwork Meditation

Credit: _ana_lilia / Instagram

Right now we are being constantly bombarded with distressing newscasts and never-ending social media updates, so it’s especially important that we know how to de stress and unplug. This super helpful guided mediation class will help you start your day off on the right foot.

Take That Brilliant Idea And Become The Entrepreneur You Always Wanted To Be

Credit: Pixabay

Perhaps because we all have so little to do right now, we’re full of extra ideas. Feel like one of those ideas could be worth launching into your own business? Then Coursera’s course titled Innovation for Entrepreneurs: From Idea To Marketplace is the online course for you – and it’s free.

Gain Some New Professional Insight Into Your Career

Recently launched School16 is offering live, remote classes every week for free, starting April 1st, for anyone who wants to learn about careers in tech like product management, sales, operations and more.

Every session is taught by leaders in companies ranging from fast growing startups to large tech firms like Slack and Google, where students hear directly from people hiring and managing these teams about what skills candidates need to have to be attractive hires, and what jobs will be available in the months and years to come. 

Get Some Cooking Tips From Michelin-Starred Chefs

Credit: MassimoBottura / Instagram

Even if you hate cooking, when else will you have the chance to learn from a Michelin chef? Massimo Bottura, whose name is associated with one of Italy’s finest restaurants, Osteria Francescana, recently announced the launch of his Instagram cooking course. It’s called Kitchen Quarantine and it’s a fun video guide to cooking basic stuff at home.

Or maybe you don’t want to do anything at all…and that’s OK too.

All of these are great options to keep yourself active and motivated during these certain times. But keep this in mind: it’s OK to not be superhuman during this crisis. One-hundred percent totally OK. It’s OK to somehow feel both productive and lazy, both stir-crazy and introverted. It’s OK to feel this crazy need to make the most of these days while nothing is regular and no rhythms are intact.

You can take this unprecedented pause in normality to learn nothing new, do nothing new, acquire nothing new — not a new skill, not a six pack, not even a new outlook on life.

It’s important to remember that there is no shame in being unproductive and uncreative, especially during a global outbreak. If you’re only resolution at present is to emerge at the end of this, with your family, alive and well, that’s OK.

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These Latinas Are Changing The World With Their Groundbreaking Inventions In Science, Technology, And Engineering

Things That Matter

These Latinas Are Changing The World With Their Groundbreaking Inventions In Science, Technology, And Engineering

@techreview_es / Twitter

Women are under-represented in the tech sector. Not only that, but they’re underpaid, often passed for promotions and faced with everyday sexism. It’s no wonder women are more likely to leave the industry within a year compared to their male counterparts. But there’s hope. Last week, the MIT Technology Review published a list of the leading Latin American innovators of 2019, and we wanted to highlight the women, who have pushed through in a male-dominated industry and are creating solutions for issues like climate change, terminal illnesses, and other threats. 

In a field that requires women to work alongside men who don’t believe women have the intelligence and inclination to work in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), these Latina innovators are proving otherwise.

Renee Wittemyer, director of program strategy and investment at Pivotal Ventures —Melinda Gates’ investment and incubation company— says that women, and particularly women of color, “are being systemically left behind.” And, she adds, “these stats are moving at a glacial pace.” According to Wittemeyer, African American women and Hispanic women represent 3% and 1% of tech workers respectively.

There is an extensive underrepresentation of women in STEM fields. 

Women make up only 24 percent of the STEM workforce. To make matters worse, only 3 percent of Latina women are working in STEM fields. So these Latina innovators are worth celebrating. 

These scientists, biologists and engineers are making a social impact by solving many of the world’s most complex questions and threatening issues—from climate change to terminal illnesses to social problems.

Here are five Latina innovators shaking up the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) sphere and using technology to create a greater impact for the world:

Lucía Gallardo

technologyreview.es

Lucía Gallardo is the brain behind “Emerge,” a start-up that aims to solve social problems with emerging technologies, such as blockchain, Internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI). “Through her company, Gallardo tries to bring these tools to people who work on social impact projects, especially in impoverished countries such as her native Honduras. One of Emerge’s main sources of support is women and marginalized communities, who are driven by both technology and advice,” MIT Technology Review writes.

María Alexandra Tamayo

technologyreview.es

This Colombian innovator, is purifying water in a country that has the second-most water resources but where only 8% of households have access to drinking water. This way, the biomedical engineer hopes to avoid diseases and death caused by water.

“This is how NanoPro was born, a device ‘capable of eliminating fungi, viruses and bacteria from water without affecting its taste, smell and color,’ the engineer explains. “The filter can be applied in both rural and urban populations, since it is incorporated both in faucets and in thermoses for those areas whose supply network does not reach homes.” With her invention, Tamayo hopes to democratize the access to drinkable water.

Marcela Torres

technologyreview.es

Marcela Torres wants to help refugees and immigrants in Mexico through “Holacode,” a software she developed to provide immigrants with access to employment and better integrate themselves into society. “Marcela Torres realized that in Mexico there were not enough people with the qualifications needed for the software developer positions that were open in the country, so she decided to use technology to solve the problem,” the MIT magazine wrote. “This is how ‘Holacode’ was born, a start-up that offers software development courses for the migrant community in Mexico.” Holacode offers coding and software courses for migrants in Mexico. The courses lasts five months, and with this start-up, Torres hopes that technology education can become more democratic and accessible. “The start-up allows these jobs to be filled by especially vulnerable people such as migrants.”

María Isabel Amorín

technologyreview.es

Amorín, 28-year-old Guatemalan chemist discovered an innovative way to clean sewage. On top of emissions and the excessive rate at which we are consuming resources, another great impact that global industrial activities have on the planet, is water pollution. In short, textile industries use a lot of chemical dyes for the production of clothing, which not only results in massive water waste but these chemicals can pollute rivers and other bodies of water. 

The Guatemalan chemist, Maria Isabel Amorin, “synthesized a polymer from shrimp shells that’s capable of retaining the dyes used in the textile industry.” According to the MIT Technology Review, “The filter works by recirculating and retaining the dye used to dye clothes. This project is particularly focused on artisanal textile production, since the technologies available to treat the waters are very expensive. Now, the young chemist is in the process of patenting her ecological method of filtration and hopes to scale production.”

Mariel Pérez Carrillo

technologyreview.es

This Mexican biochemical engineer and entrepreneur, helps farmers increase their crop production through Innus Technologies. Carillo recalled, “I went to the countryside to learn from the farmers and I realized that they don’t know how their crop is. They also don’t know what state their soil is in.” She invented Enviro, a device that identifies soil conditions and climate in real time and, from them, offers recommendations to improve crop yields.

Thanks to its sensors, Enviro can measure temperature, humidity, conductivity, pH and salinity. The device can help farmers reduce crop losses. Pérez affirms that Enviro also reduces the need of agricultural supplies, “which reduces the contamination of soil and aquifers caused by to excessive use of agricultural chemicals.” 

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