Culture Vulture Club, Wednesday 21 June
For the school’s first ever Culture Vulture Talk (a relaunch of Culture Vulture Club that ran many years ago) we had the privilege of hearing from two wonderful speakers, both previous alumni of this school. Reverend Doctor Margaret Jane Joachim was a previous member of Brighton Girls, Class of 1967, and was one of the most inspirational and accomplished people I had ever met. She studied Geology at St Hugh’s College Oxford, gained a PhD on Pleistocene Entomology, and became an Anglican priest. However, one of her most amazing accomplishments was her work as a political campaigner, trying to put more women in high positions of power. Margaret shared with us how after graduating from university she couldn’t find a job. Margaret gained the highest degree awarded that year at Oxford in Geology and that she was the only woman on the course. She was turned away from experiences, like going on the British Antarctic Survey to study geology, in favour of less experienced men for reasons as insignificant as there not being a women’s lavatory on the boat. This really highlighted the importance of having women in parliament, making decisions to allow more room for other women in male dominated fields. I asked Margaret what she would say to other young girls who were intimidated by going into male dominated fields, and she said that ‘if something is important enough to need doing, don’t wait around for someone else to do it for you’. Hearing about Margaret’s experience and her wonderful advice really put into perspective the systems by which our society runs under and the necessity of diversity in political parties.
Our second speaker Sebastian Yue from the Class of 2012 had one of the most interesting careers I had ever heard of. They studied English Literature, French and Spanish at the University of Toronto. Sebastian now designs tabletop role-playing games for the company ‘Hit Point Press’ and writes adventure books for the widely famous game ‘dungeons and dragons’. Although I had heard of the game I had no idea how to play it and was completely oblivious to this field of game design, however, Sebastian walked us through table top role playing games and how they work and I was very fascinated by them. Impressively, Sebastian has had an impressive career as a writer previous to this as well. They were a poet, a journalist, an essayist and a copywriter. Sebastian left us with a similar message to Margaret which was that we could achieve anything we put our minds to. Although they specialised in different areas and careers, Sebastian and Margaret were both incredibly wonderful and inspirational to us and I look forward to meeting more Alumna with interesting career paths in the next Culture Vulture talk.
Jen, Year 10
A few words from Margaret
Politics affects every aspect of our lives, from whether there will be a late bus to get home safely after an evening out, to whether the health service is properly resourced or our farmers can grow the food we need., It is far too important to ignore. Politicians in national and local government make crucial decisions on our behalf, and they should make them in everyone’s best interests. But although women have been able to become MPs since 1918 (and local councillors rather earlier), in 1979 when I first stood as a candidate in a general election only 19 women were elected. The difficulties I encountered when I was trying to get a job, buying a house and starting a family seemed to have a lot to do with the lack of women’s voices and women’s experience in the places where the rules were made, and so over the intervening years I have been trying to do something about it. Perhaps the most important work has been giving women the confidence to become candidates, encouraging them to apply for seats they have a good chance of winning, and persuading voters that a woman will make a really good MP. We’ve made quite a lot of progress in the last fifty years, but there are still only 224 women in parliament – 35% of the 650 MPs, so it’s much too early to sit back and relax.
Margaret Joachim, Class of 1967
Thoughts from Sebastian
The first time I heard the term “game design” I thought it was just for video games. Actually, every game has a design, even traditional 52-card deck games. Someone or a group of people came up with the rules and made a game out of them. So here are a few examples:
• ‘A tabletop game is a game where you play a character and you narrate that character’s actions. You’ll usually play a character you made up and you base your choices on how your character would act in the situation you’re dealing with in the game.’
• ‘Designing nonplayer characters (NPCs) is about how they can advance the plot, how they can be compelling for the players to interact with, and how they complement the story of the player characters, because the players are always the main characters of the story.’
• ‘A puzzle in a tabletop roleplaying game has to be hard enough that it’s a fun challenge but it also has to be solvable and not frustrating.’
Game design is a field traditionally dominated by white men, but there are plenty of communities that support women, LGBT+ people, and people of diverse racial backgrounds in writing and designing their own games.
Sebastian Yue, Class of 2012