Our shared experience suggests that addressing complex social problems is most effective when organizing as a community of interests. In this context we've learned first-hand how uplifting and life-affirming it feels to be involved in such initiatives. We created Arden as an instrument of change, a community dedicated to addressing pervasive social issues with the skills and resources immediately available to us.
Arden is a non-profit charity of the game development community, pursuing educational and cultural programs for social impact.We aim to nurture future generations by facilitating alternative education programs, and we explore our culture’s views, beliefs, and practices through creative arts as physical representations.
As we started weaving our projects, we wanted by our side partners with the same values. Companies and other non-profits that understood the importance of:
We soon found this support in a collective of artisans from the game development industry, known as Amber. The continuous involvement of volunteers, the People of Amber, and the generosity of our partners allows us to make a positive impact. We are profoundly grateful for the opportunity.
In 2021 we began our activity and launched our alternative education program called Echo. The program represents our commitment to the well-being of future generations, as we connect game dev professionals and young people to provide accessible, safe, and thorough remote education.
We started with a mentoring program, but soon discovered that the majority of young people are not aware of the diversity of roles in the game development industry. Because they don't know the roles, they don't know the necessary skill sets or what to study. Thus, we created ArtZ in Gaming and RoleZ in Gaming, two awareness campaigns, informing about career paths, roles, and skill sets.
We reached over 95,000 young people in Romania, online and offline. The fantastic results were possible thanks to trustworthy partnerships with the local indie game studio, Amber, high schools and NGOs, The Social Incubator, and RGDA.
Furthermore, we explored the engaging conversations sparked by digital artworks in two Game Art exhibitions: Eastern European Game Art Showcase and CharactHER. We are appreciative of the talented artists that applied and got showcased at some of our favorite events: Clujotronic and Dev.Play Conference.
With the consistent efforts of all our partners: RGDA, Women in Games, Goethe Institut, Deutsches Kultur Zentrum & Institut Francais the exhibitions reached more than 2,400 people raising awareness regarding the misrepresentation of female game developers, female game characters, and pro gamers. We addressed this industry issue by helping the Romanian industry association (RGDA) with the organization of a dedicated Diversity Game Jam: “In Search of a Heroine”.
This unique exhibition creates an artifact sanctuary of real-life love-and-loss stories providing a cathartic experience to both the exhibitors and visitors alike. With the guidance of psychotherapist Yolanda Cretescu, Yogi Hitesh, storyteller Iulian Tanase, and artists Cosima Opartan / von Bülove, and Paula Dunker, we offered the people of Bucharest a safe space for self-discovery, creative expression, (re)connection, and healing. Love Lost, Bucharest (May 20th - June 10th, 2022) is a project of Arden and Strata Gallery, sponsored by Amber, with the support of Oveit and Avanpost Media.
In the next five years, we plan to develop programs focusing on creativity as a tool for empowerment, offering young people accessible safe spaces (virtual and on-site) for personal and professional development. Our goal is to create at least one self-sustainable alternative education program each year, by making use of the game developers' expertise. Some of the actions relevant to our approach are:informing about game dev roles, awareness campaigns, hybrid workshops with industry professionals, and exploratory visits to game development studios.
Even more, we continue to explore or culture's views, beliefs, and practices through creative arts as physical representations. Guided by our curiosity, we approach emotional intelligence as a tool for beauty appreciation and expression of emotional power, digital exploration while reflecting the essence of humanity through technology, in immersive environments, connecting participants and new media artworks, transforming them into a single element, providing catharsis. And this translates through quarterly dedicated events and exhibitions that promote cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue, increase access to art and culture in diverse communities, and support education through culture using multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches.
Lovingly looking forward,
Andra Beldean, Co-Founder Arden Romania