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SOE's G.I.R.L. Scholarship now accepting submissions

SOE's G.I.R.L. Scholarship now accepting submissions

Fri 22 Feb 2013 8:46am GMT / 3:46am EST / 12:46am PST
EducationDevelopment

Offers students the chance to win $10,000 in educational expenses

This year's Gamers in Real Life (G.I.R.L.) Game Design Competition, run by Sony Online Entertainment, is now accepting submissions. The winner will receive $10,000 towards their education and a 10 week paid internship with SOE.

"At SOE, we believe that diversity is one of our keys to success and it is truly woven into the fabric of who we are as a company," said Laura Naviaux, senior VP of global sales and marketing.

"We want to help make the games industry even that much more approachable and our goal with the G.I.R.L. Scholarship is to provide an easy way to usher even more women into the industry."

The competition is open to Americans, male and female, over the age of 18, currently in a form of undergraduate education that applies to video games and with a 3.00 or higher GPA. They must submit an essay and two pieces of concept art inspired by PlanetSide 2 or EverQuest II. Submissions must be made before March 29.

When GamesIndustry International spoke to Naviaux about the programme last year, she said it was still important to attract more women to the industry.

"It's imperative that we have people on the development teams that are women, because you can't have 18-34 year old men making games for every type of demographic."

16 Comments

Jade Law Senior concept artist, Reloaded Productions

72 291 4.0
Popular Comment
I still find this sexist.
"It's imperative that we have people on the development teams that are women, because you can't have 18-34 year old men making games for every type of demographic
-yes you can. Most girls love zelda. created by a man. Minecraft.. a man... infact most girls i know like the same games guys do. As a developer id be offended if someone put me on a team specifically to make a game for women. Why isnt the focus on just making gender neutral experiences that are great games?


im not saying we should have no women because that would obviously put me out of a job, however i fail to see why women deserve preferential help such as this.

thats not equality, its hand holding.. and for what? the sake of some perceived issue about low female participation being a problem.

Posted:A year ago

#1

Jessica Hyland Character Artist

327 1,321 4.0
Most girls love zelda
Really? Most girls have never even heard of Zelda, because they don't play non-casual games. Sure, the ones who do play non-casual games tend to like LoZ but there is a huge, huge number of women and girls out there who are put off from playing and therefore making less casual games because it's still perceived as a vastly male-dominated and male-oriented industry. Which it is. And how do we fix that? We encourage more women to join our industry, because through diversity of experience we can really achieve diversity of design and appeal.

This isn't about getting women to make games for women. This is about attracting more young women to consider a career path that society tends to deem 'a man thing' and helping them to come and enrich our industry with their talents.

Scholarships aren't about putting people in positions they don't 'deserve', they're just a helping hand to give marginalised people(whether they're too poor to attend higher education or too discouraged by the prospect of being surrounded by men and sexist attitudes for the rest of their working lives) a chance to gain the education and experience they need to break into the industry.

I do wish this scholarship programme was a bit broader in focus though, as by the sounds of it it's aimed purely at concept artists. We could really do with more lady coders and designers too.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Jessica Hyland on 22nd February 2013 10:05am

Posted:A year ago

#2

Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer

482 293 0.6
@Jessica

Er actually more women play casual games now than men so, even though you're a woman and so I ironically thought you'd know this. You seem to be a bit out of touch with your peers.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Jessica Hyland Character Artist

327 1,321 4.0
@Peter

The Legend of Zelda is a casual game now? I must have missed its Facebook debut. Possibly I should edit my response to clarify that non-casual games are still largely seen as the preserve of men for some reason.

But of course, being a woman I should know everything that every other woman on the planet does and thinks. Sorry about that, I'll remember next time.

Posted:A year ago

#4

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

527 786 1.5
Popular Comment
Again, focusing on the wrong area. What's the point in giving girls who've already followed a path towards games anyway an easier ride, rather than trying to get more girls interested earlier on in the first place? Blatant sexism for no real benefit.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Moritz Wagner Game/Leveldesigner, Mimimi Productions

3 5 1.7
Popular Comment
Scholarships aren't about putting people in positions they don't 'deserve', they're just a helping hand to give marginalised people(whether they're too poor to attend higher education or too discouraged by the prospect of being surrounded by men and sexist attitudes for the rest of their working lives) a chance to gain the education and experience they need to break into the industry.
Not being able to afford higher education is a perfect reason for a scholarship.
Being a woman is not, in my oppinion.
The thing about the prospect of being surrounded by men and sexist attitudes for the rest of their working lives should be countered by a scholarship?
Like: "Here, take the education for free....then you will still be surrounded by men and sexist attitudes for the rest ofy our working life, but at least it was free" ?
Makes no sense.
I personally haven't encountered any sexism towards women in the companies i have worked. I am sure that it can be a problem, though.

But creating a sexist scholarship to stop potential sexism in the industry is rather stupid. Just give the scholarship to people that really can't afford the education but are promising, ambitious and talented enough to deserve it. Why create it gender-specific, makes no sense at all to me.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D

863 707 0.8
I'd agree it would have been better to aim it at coders - perhaps a maths or physics undergrad who agreed to do a coding internship would have been a better choice. Most of the women I know in games are on the "creative" rather than technical side, you could almost argue this just inadvertently reinforces this.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Andrea Wästlund Student

7 19 2.7
"Why isnt the focus on just making gender neutral experiences that are great games?"
I'd say it's easier to make brilliant games for more than one demographic if the development teams are made up of a mix of people, or even to just make better and more creative games in general.
"Most girls love zelda. created by a man. Minecraft.. a man... infact most girls i know like the same games guys do."
That's probably because the games available today were created by an industry that is made up of around 88% men. If women didn't like games that were created by men they wouldn't like games at all, and we know this isn't true. Lots of women play games (mainly casual games, as pointed out by Jessica) but few consider game development as a career. Why is that? Why are (non-casual...) games and game development still viewed as a "boys' thing" and how can we change it? Just imagine the rise in game quality if just as many women as men considered games as a career... Not because women are better at making games, but because the talent pool to hire from would nearly double in size. Getting more people interested in games and game development is never, ever a bad thing.

Scholarships like this is one small way of doing just that by very publicly showing that the games industry isn't just a place for guys, and that big companies are serious about diversity in their ranks. I personally couldn't care less about being the only woman in a team. It doesn't bother me. But that doesn't mean that the same prospect wouldn't discourage someone else, someone with amazing talent and brilliant ideas.

Echoing Jessica again here - it's not about giving money and internships to people who don't deserve it. Scholarships aimed at minorities are about giving opportunities to talented, ambitious young people who otherwise might not get to where they want because of discrimination, discouragement or just the constant feeling of being a minority in a homogeneous environment. But if one person receiving an internship through this incentive can inspire others to aim for similar positions - without the scholarship - wouldn't that pretty cool?

Posted:A year ago

#8

Rob Jessop R&D Programmer, Crytek

37 35 0.9
@Dave "a form of undergraduate education that applies to video games" could apply to many different fields that aren't necessarily vocational game development courses and net applicants that would otherwise have gone into, to pick an example, professional graphic design.So they aren't necessarily on a path towards games as you suggest.

@Andrea having a mix of people is good even if you're working on the more technical side. In my career as a tools programmer, interesting and useful input has often come from people with different situations and backgrounds to mine.

Posted:A year ago

#9

Andrew Watson Programmer

99 245 2.5
Maybe a reason why females don't play as many non-casual games is because there's still a sort of social stigma against it?

Posted:A year ago

#10

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

527 786 1.5
@Rob - True, Rob, but I still think offering money (bribing them, effectively) is totally the wrong way to go about it. If I were a woman I'd feel entirely uncomfortable taking the money. Imagine conversations with fellow students when they start bitching about university fees - "oh, I had mine paid for me, because I'm a girl". Can't imagine that one going down very well.

I'd rather see things like women already in the industry going talking to young school girls and being visible to them, saying "look how cool my job is, wouldn't you like to do that too?" Put the ideas in their heads earlier, when they haven't had years of social stigma clouding their judgement.

Posted:A year ago

#11

Andrea Wästlund Student

7 19 2.7
@ Rob
Oh, definitely! Very true, and it's a shame this particular scholarship only covers one discipline.

@ Dave
First of all, tuition in the US is expensive and no one is just handing out free degrees to people lucky enough to have ovaries. $10,000 would pay for around a semester's worth of studies at Digipen or Full Sail. That leaves you with around $70,000 left to pay, if not more - a significant sum of money that still leaves you entitled to join in when your friends start complaining about fees.

Secondly, if I received that scholarship I wouldn't tell people I got it because "I'm a girl". I'd tell people I got it because I completed and won a nationwide art competition in my spare time and wrote a brilliant essay about gender roles and women in games. I'd tell them it's because I'm ambitious enough to seek out opportunities outside of my studies and because I'm talented enough to impress people at a multi-million dollar company. I'd say it's because I want to work in games more than I want anything else, despite being one of very few girls on my course, despite being harassed when I play online games and despite the very real prospect of sexism in my future career. I don't think anyone would look down on me for receiving a scholarship for those reasons and I certainly wouldn't feel awkward about it.

Money like this isn't given to people because of their gender or the colour of their skin, but because they show extraordinary talent in a profession or area of study where they are a minority. Hopefully one day we'll see a more equal gender representation in the games industry, and then we won't need incentives like this any more. And of course - I'd love to see more women talking to young school girls, too! More game-making women inspiring young girls, more games that hold girls' interests, more opportunities for girls to develop and sustain an interest in technology... Etc. Those are all good things, and one doesn't rule out the other.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrea Wästlund on 22nd February 2013 4:07pm

Posted:A year ago

#12

William Leu Software Developer, Tietronix Software Inc

7 9 1.3
@JadeLaw
"however i fail to see why women deserve preferential help such as this."

It's an aimed scholarship! Might as well call scholarships that target minorities racist, or scholarships that target in-state students nepotist, or scholarships that target high-grade students success-ist. Although, I will argue the acronym is horribly uninspiring. If anything, I'd complain about the SOE specific concept art requirement, but it's their own thing, they can do whatever they like. Anyone who tries hard in school is eligible to apply for at least 1 scholarship (at least in a first world country), and a few of them have demographic requirements - this is just one more in the mix.

Also, "most girls love Zela"? As in more than 50% of a demographic? What's your demographic and where's your source? This isn't about holding a magnifying glass to Nintendo, it's about the industry as a whole - or for the very least, it's Sony holding a magnifying glass against themselves.

Posted:A year ago

#13

Gary LaRochelle Digital Artist/Game Designer, Flea Ranch Games

64 55 0.9
They must submit an essay and two pieces of concept art inspired by PlanetSide 2 or EverQuest II.
Looks like the scholarship is intended for only artists.
Will Sony offer a scholarship for coders as well?
Kind of sexist to think that women only want to work on game art.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Gary LaRochelle on 22nd February 2013 6:25pm

Posted:A year ago

#14

Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer

482 293 0.6
@Jessica

"But of course, being a woman I should know everything that every other woman on the planet does and thinks. Sorry about that, I'll remember next time."

Make sure you do! After all I've seen enough comments from women blaming every guy on here for the sexist attitudes and non-opportunity in the industry!

In all seriousness girls play games too (not just casua though I'd argue that Zelda isn't hardcore by any means) . What everyone seems to miss is that, unless girls are supposed to act and behave like men, they will not necessarily like the same kinds of things. I can't understand why there seem to be a need to force women into careers in X because men are succeeding at careers in X. Why? The same drive was done for engineering and physics etc. etc. only to find that a lot of women were not actually that interested in those subjects. Shock horror it turned out that women were NOT men! If a woman wants to go into creating games then there shouldn't be a barrier but, equally they shouldn't be forced down that route to make up the gender numbers.

Posted:A year ago

#15

Jessica Hyland Character Artist

327 1,321 4.0
I'd be pretty concerned if anyone was being forced into any kind of job, but that's not what's happening here - scholarships, university courses, jobs and internships are generally opt-in - so I'm not really sure what kind of hypothetical scenario you're talking about there.
If a woman wants to go into creating games then there shouldn't be a barrier
That's what this is about. There is a barrier - it could be more societal perception than any real wrongdoing by studios or individuals of any gender within the industry(#1reasonwhy suggests it's not, tbqh) - but the barrier does exist, and scholarship programmes like this are one way of tackling it.

Posted:A year ago

#16

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