Sony's G.I.R.L. Game Design Scholarship Offers $10,000

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Sony's G.I.R.L. Game Design Scholarship Offers $10,000

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The fifth annual Gamers in Real Life scheme is a great student opportunity with gender equality at its heart.

Although the games industry is becoming a more gender-balanced world as it grows and matures, many game studios still remain dominated by male workers. While there are a few initiatives working to help redress this imbalance, this one in particular offers something a little special: the chance to intern at Sony's San Deigo offices, in addition to $10,000 towards tuition fees and associated expenses. Hurrah!

The name of this opportunity is the SOE (Sony Online Entertainment) G.I.R.L (Gamers in Real Life) Scholarship (not an acronym. Phew). It's in its fith year, and if you're a student aged over 18 in any field relating to video game development, you can apply for the scheme right here.

"Celebrating its fifth anniversary, the G.I.R.L. Scholarship prides itself as being an active catalyst for inspiring women's involvement in the video game industry, as well as for providing an open gateway for those pursuing careers in the field of creative and applied arts," reads the scheme's statement.

Says SOE Senior VP of Global Sales and Marketing, Laura Naviaux, "The goal of G.I.R.L. has always been of opportunity, education and recruitment to get more women into the gaming industry...Now in our fifth year, we can't wait to see the creativity that comes out of the G.I.R.L. program."

Nothing more needs said, really. The scholarship sounds like a great opportunity, and anything that promotes workplace equality is usually a good idea. If any of you are smart and lucky enough to earn the scholarship, do let us know.

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So, is there anything of this sort out there for guys? Because if not, it kind of negates the whole "gender equality" angle.

SirBryghtside:

Sparrow:
So, is there anything of this sort out there for guys? Because if not, it kind of negates the whole "gender equality" angle.

But there is an imbalance. the only way you can fix it is by kicking one side of the scales into the right place and then removing the support. This is the kick.

That imbalance probably isn't caused by sexism, though. It's probably just more guys want to be game designers than girls, and in the grand scheme of things that makes a hell of a lot of sense. Offering a scholarship won't help improve the amount of women will sign up for it, it'll only help the women that already want to become game designers get a leg up over the guys that do.

Sparrow:
So, is there anything of this sort out there for guys? Because if not, it kind of negates the whole "gender equality" angle.

weeelll....

if you think about it this way I think the "Idea" is that its easyer for guys than it is for girls..or whatever

Sparrow:
So, is there anything of this sort out there for guys? Because if not, it kind of negates the whole "gender equality" angle.

But there is an imbalance. the only way you can fix it is by kicking one side of the scales into the right place and then removing the support. This is the kick.

Sparrow:
So, is there anything of this sort out there for guys? Because if not, it kind of negates the whole "gender equality" angle.

SirBryghtside:

Sparrow:
So, is there anything of this sort out there for guys? Because if not, it kind of negates the whole "gender equality" angle.

But there is an imbalance. the only way you can fix it is by kicking one side of the scales into the right place and then removing the support. This is the kick.

That imbalance probably isn't caused by sexism, though. It's probably just more guys want to be game designers than girls, and in the grand scheme of things that makes a hell of a lot of sense. Offering a scholarship won't help improve the amount of women will sign up for it, it'll only help the women that already want to become game designers get a leg up over the guys that do.

I'll dump this here (it's in "Rules"):

Eligibility: Any individual who is currently enrolled at an accredited school in an undergraduate program related to video games, including programs related to video game art, design, animation, production, programming or visual effects, has an average GPA of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale), and will not graduate before the end of the 2013 spring term is eligible to enter. Only the original author who submitted the e-application and created the Submission may enter or win.

So dudes are free to apply, but part of the application has to centre around what you'd do to make the games industry a better place for women to work in, or a theme similar to that, in essay form.

Also one of the reasons why there are so few women working as games designers (or in other areas of the industry) is that games are still, more often than not, seen as a "male" thing. For the longest time they were designed for the most part by men, starred men, were written about by men, etc. I think the aim of scholarships like this is to make games look like a more attractive option for female designers. Hopefully cultural shifts, assisted by programs like these, will lead to a more level playing field in 5-10 years.

Naming something that supposedly promotes gender equality "G.I.R.L." seems very counter-productive...

Actually, I think I just disagree with these kinds of schemes anyway. I'm sure this was created with all the best intentions, but I really doubt it will have any positive effect on the gaming industry, and it could even create resentment against women in the field. That's certainly what I've seen happen with similar projects focusing on racial equality.

Hevva:
Also one of the reasons why there are so few women working as games designers (or in other areas of the industry) is that games are still, more often than not, seen as a "male" thing. For the longest time they were designed for the most part by men, starred men, were written about by men, etc. I think the aim of scholarships like this is to make games look like a more attractive option for female designers. Hopefully cultural shifts, assisted by programs like these, will lead to a more level playing field in 5-10 years.

Well It would be foolish to ignore that there IS a fundamental deference in physiology between the sexes. Given how harsh the gaming industry workplace is, I would want to be sure that the female in question gets into it because they genuinely love gaming, not because someone else is going to be paying for it.

Aside from that, education costs in general have gotten way out of control so I guess it's nice there's one more scholarship out there. Pity it has to be Sony's Offices though.

Lunncal:
Naming something that supposedly promotes gender equality "G.I.R.L." seems very counter-productive...

Actually, I think I just disagree with these kinds of schemes anyway. I'm sure this was created with all the best intentions, but I really doubt it will have any positive effect on the gaming industry, and it could even create resentment against women in the field. That's certainly what I've seen happen with similar projects focusing on racial equality.

No one working in the game industry cares one bit about whether someone went to college or not, much less if they happened to receive a scholarship along the way. It's simply not relevant, only the quality of your work is. In fact, the only "resentment" I've ever seen is of people who did go to college, as some self-taught people have a stigma against graduates of game design programs.

So I wouldn't worry about it. The only thing students have to worry about is their mountain of student loans they'll be paying back for years on a most likely modest income, if they are lucky enough to find work. Any help along the way should be graciously accepted.

This seems like the height of coming up with the acronym first and then justifying it with some loosely related words with the correct first letter. Maybe it's just me but when I read Gamers In Real Life it doesn't sound like a scholarship, it sounds like a god-awful reality T.V. show designed to appeal to people who play games but made by people have only heard about the demographic. You know, the sort of thing that makes you want to stop playing games or watching T.V. just so you can maximise the amount of cultural distance between yourself and it.

I guess that's sort of a minor complaint to have about the scheme though.

Uhhh... I'm pretty sure there's an imbalance because each gender has different typical interests, though that obviously is changing on its own. I take offense that there's always the suggestion somewhere that there has to be some "boys club" that's designed to keep women out.

At the college I went to, interior design was dominated by women, but there were no initiatives to get more of the guys interested in it. Besides, there's a greater gender imbalance in roofing and logging, so maybe they should be asking why there aren't more women interested in tarring roofs first?

Unfortunately I'm a blond, blue-eyed, white, straight male.

While I like initiatives to get people into school for game design, I cringe every time I see something designed to help with equality because it tends to discriminate against me.

In this case it doesn't (if everyone would read the actual details of the contest). The problem here is that the name of the contest is just plain stupid and their information is a mess to work out what they are talking about with gender equality.

For the record, from https://www.scholarshipamerica.org/gamersinreallife/

"First awarded in 2008, the Gamers in Real Life (GIRL) scholarship was created by Sony Online Entertainment LLC to encourage students toward career paths in the creative and applied arts, with the ultimate goal of developing video games that are more interesting for women to play."

So, in fact, they are not necessarily aiming to increase the female game creator demographic rather they are trying to increase the female gamer demographic.

I have two problems with this.
1. They seem to think this is 20 years ago and that there aren't as many women gamers as there actually are out there. From what I've seen all over the place it (and I spend way too much time involved in gaming) it isn't parity yet, but it isn't as far away as something like this would have you believe.

2. This is the much bigger problem. This mentality that you can create a game for women to play. This seems like a step back to the idea of making a Barbie video game to appeal to young girls. This idea that you have to make a different type of game to reel in a girl instead of a boy is sexist by nature.

Overall, the main problem is not that there aren't enough girl-centric games in existence. Rather, it's more of an upbringing issue in many cases. The notion that video gaming is a guy thing is what needs to be solved, not what the actual games are. Just like sports, girls need to be supported at an early age if they show interest in it.

In summary, I think the solution lies with introducing more girls to joys of gaming and marketing towards girls rather than trying to create games that people think will interest girls.

Needs clarification.

"It's in its fith year, and if you're a student aged over 18 in any field relating to video game development, you can apply for the scheme right here."

Implys if you are a student over 18. Not if you are a female student over 18.
Anyway its just sexist bullshit and only serves to create tension and widen the gap between the sexes. But hey, its Sony. They are not exactly known for their good ideas.

Monkeyman O'Brien:
Needs clarification.

"It's in its fith year, and if you're a student aged over 18 in any field relating to video game development, you can apply for the scheme right here."

Implys if you are a student over 18. Not if you are a female student over 18.
Anyway its just sexist bullshit and only serves to create tension and widen the gap between the sexes. But hey, its Sony. They are not exactly known for their good ideas.

Except you can apply if you are a guy.
OT: Good on them. Name is a bit dumb and broader goal (get more women into video games) is really not an issue anymore, but at least their hearts are in the right place.

I'm not generally a fan of this kind of affirmative action type policy, but at least it's happening in an area where there's a real imbalance (as opposed to female-only scholarships and programs that exist in spite of more women than men attending and graduating university. Affirmative action for a majority group can't really claim to promote equality anymore). I have yet to see any evidence that the small number of women in the games industry has anything to do with sexism within that industry (although I imagine sexism on the part of the people who design marketing campaigns might do something to diminish interest), but if Sony decides they want more female designers, it makes perfect sense for them to provide incentives.

I would tend to take issue with the idea that it "promotes equality", because sometime in the past couple decades that seems to have become synonymous with "benefits women", which isn't what those words actually mean. On the other hand, I don't think the idea of the scholarship is inherently harmful. I would take more issue with it if it followed in the footsteps of most similar campaigns by suggesting that a lack of female interest in a field is and must be the fault of men, but it doesn't seem to be taking that tack.

Oh noes! The marginalised groups are getting support to be less marginalised!

Next they'll be getting actual equality, head for the hills!

They're really reaching with that name, aren't they?

Wouldn't a better equal opportunity acronym for a gaming scholarship be:

Getting
Anyone
Money
Easily

Or somethin' like that.

FoolKiller:

So, in fact, they are not necessarily aiming to increase the female game creator demographic rather they are trying to increase the female gamer demographic.

I have two problems with this.
1. They seem to think this is 20 years ago and that there aren't as many women gamers as there actually are out there. From what I've seen all over the place it (and I spend way too much time involved in gaming) it isn't parity yet, but it isn't as far away as something like this would have you believe.

2. This is the much bigger problem. This mentality that you can create a game for women to play. This seems like a step back to the idea of making a Barbie video game to appeal to young girls. This idea that you have to make a different type of game to reel in a girl instead of a boy is sexist by nature.

Overall, the main problem is not that there aren't enough girl-centric games in existence. Rather, it's more of an upbringing issue in many cases. The notion that video gaming is a guy thing is what needs to be solved, not what the actual games are. Just like sports, girls need to be supported at an early age if they show interest in it.

In summary, I think the solution lies with introducing more girls to joys of gaming and marketing towards girls rather than trying to create games that people think will interest girls.

Interesting points. Let's chat.

I agree in part - there are way more women playing games than there were 20 years ago, and many of these women now feel comfortable enough in our culture to (like me) be proud of our favourite pastime, how creative it can be and how artistic it could stand to be in the future. However, on the development side, men still outnumber women by a huge margin. Although more women have taken up gaming as a pastime, the amount that choose to study it is still really, really small.

10 or 20 years ago, there were virtually no women working in any area to do with computing. Speaking personally, my mother worked as a coder for the Ministry of Defence in the early 80's, and it was taken as writ that she'd be paid less than male peers for equal work and would get passed up for promotion regardless of her ability. She was surrounded by men who assumed she couldn't code - the quality of the work didn't matter, and this was the military. She left after she wound up working under an imcompentent guy who'd joined the unit after her, but was promoted over her, took to routinely blaming her for his mistakes. Back then, the infrastucture for a woman to defend herself against this kind of discriminatino just didn't exist. For computing to come as far as it has in such a relatively short space of time is wonderful and astonishing, but it took effort.

For one reason or another, it's never fun to be the only girl in a party full of just men - because you know that in there somewhere will be the white knight, the sexist douche, the one who tries to objectify you and tell you you're crap at maths automatically, etc. Sometimes it's hard to trust that there will be enough normal guys (who make up the vast, vast majority of men in the games industry) to make the place bearable if you're looking in from the outside.

Then there's the gaming community, which reacts to the word "feminist" like you've just poured acid into its face or something. But that's a whole 'nother topic.

As for point 2, I do think it's possible to make games which cater more to female players than they do just now (not Barbie though, ha). Men and women like different things, and rather than being scared of those differences we should celebrate them and see what we can create that best suits the needs of both groups (this goes for acknowledgement of physical difference too - like Bethesda did a neat thing pre-Skyrim where if you chose a female character you got lower strength but higher intelligence). Well-written female protagonists are in short supply, and I'm sure that many gamers - both male and female - want to see more of them and the stories they can carry which are specific to the female condition. It's just that when a young woman sees them, on marketing or when someone else is playing them, it starts to seem like maybe games are something which are made with her in mind just as much as her brother, cousins, boyfriend or father.

A lot of the time the image games portray screams "This was made for a dude. What the hell are you doing looking at it?" Even games like Mass Effect, vast swathes of which were designed with female players in mind, tended to have male-centric outward appearances. I'm glad to see that trend starting to slide back, though, what with Femshep getting her trailer on all over Youtube and all. Women make up 50% of Earth's population. EA and friends won't leave that market untapped for long.

Goddamn, this became a novel. Whoops.

tl;dr Things will change, slowly and over time, and all scholarships like this do is try to push the process to speed up. Ten years ago, we wouldn't even have been having this conversation, and knowing that makes me smile. Progress is happening; within ten years, maybe we'll have dropped all this "gamer girl" shit and women will make up more than the 6% (on average, in Europe) of the development industry than they currently do.

Promoting gender equality and calling the scholarship GIRL. This raises questions.

Would it be wrong of me to be angry at the irony?
Can a dude get the scholarship?
Why call it GIRL if you want to promote gender equality?

Chemical Alia:

Lunncal:
Naming something that supposedly promotes gender equality "G.I.R.L." seems very counter-productive...

Actually, I think I just disagree with these kinds of schemes anyway. I'm sure this was created with all the best intentions, but I really doubt it will have any positive effect on the gaming industry, and it could even create resentment against women in the field. That's certainly what I've seen happen with similar projects focusing on racial equality.

No one working in the game industry cares one bit about whether someone went to college or not, much less if they happened to receive a scholarship along the way. It's simply not relevant, only the quality of your work is. In fact, the only "resentment" I've ever seen is of people who did go to college, as some self-taught people have a stigma against graduates of game design programs.

So I wouldn't worry about it. The only thing students have to worry about is their mountain of student loans they'll be paying back for years on a most likely modest income, if they are lucky enough to find work. Any help along the way should be graciously accepted.

I think you've misunderstood me, I wasn't saying that it would generate resentment against students (with or without a scholarship), I was saying it would generate resentment against women.

Where I live, there has been a growing tendency for people to complain about the "unfair benefits" people are apparently receiving for belonging to some minority or another from our government. I don't agree with these people (or at least I don't think the blame for any of this should be on the minorities supposedly benefiting), but there's no doubt in my mind that this has all inadvertently increased racial tensions, and possibly even cultivated racist attitudes in people who might not have otherwise had them. It wouldn't surprise me if projects like GIRL had a similar effect against women in the games industry.

Lunncal:

Chemical Alia:

Lunncal:
Naming something that supposedly promotes gender equality "G.I.R.L." seems very counter-productive...

Actually, I think I just disagree with these kinds of schemes anyway. I'm sure this was created with all the best intentions, but I really doubt it will have any positive effect on the gaming industry, and it could even create resentment against women in the field. That's certainly what I've seen happen with similar projects focusing on racial equality.

No one working in the game industry cares one bit about whether someone went to college or not, much less if they happened to receive a scholarship along the way. It's simply not relevant, only the quality of your work is. In fact, the only "resentment" I've ever seen is of people who did go to college, as some self-taught people have a stigma against graduates of game design programs.

So I wouldn't worry about it. The only thing students have to worry about is their mountain of student loans they'll be paying back for years on a most likely modest income, if they are lucky enough to find work. Any help along the way should be graciously accepted.

I think you've misunderstood me, I wasn't saying that it would generate resentment against students (with or without a scholarship), I was saying it would generate resentment against women.

Where I live, there has been a growing tendency for people to complain about the "unfair benefits" people are apparently receiving for belonging to some minority or another from our government. I don't agree with these people (or at least I don't think the blame for any of this should be on the minorities supposedly benefiting), but there's no doubt in my mind that this has all inadvertently increased racial tensions, and possibly even cultivated racist attitudes in people who might not have otherwise had them. It wouldn't surprise me if projects like GIRL had a similar effect against women in the games industry.

That's exactly my point, though. Unlike the internet, where people get whiny and complain about the unfairness of academic scholarships to encourage women in certain fields they're not prevalent in, it's not prevalent in the actual game industry. So few women work in this industry, and among them so few have degrees, that it barely affects anyone anyway. The only people who remain pissy about it constantly are nerds on the internet.

So they want to make people equal by giving benefits to one side only?

That's just wrong.

I have very mixed feelings on this.

On one hand, I can see that they are trying to get more girls into the industry.

On the other hand I can see this being like other female scholarships, or even racially based scholarships in which no one is going to take advantage of it that wasn't already going into college/the industry anyways.

I think they have good intentions, but the way they are going about it will just create resentment in the work force, like modern-day affirmative action... Yah know?

Hevva:
10 or 20 years ago, there were virtually no women working in any area to do with computing.

In point of fact, the percentage of women working in the computer industry actually peaked in the mid 80's and has been on the decline ever since. i couldn't a free source on the internet for that statistic, but here's a chart showing a similar trend in Bachelor's degrees granted to women. i work at a software company now and there isn't a single female programmer under the age of 30. All the new young hires coming in (myself included) are exclusively male.

Anyone claiming that programs like this are unnecessary because man and women are "equal enough already" doesn't have a grip on reality. There's a reason the software industry as a whole isn't as appealing to women as it used to be, and i doubt it's because the maths suddenly got too hard.

You know why the games industry is male dominated? Because men are more inclined to enjoy video games. You don't see anyone worrying about the lack of male teachers, do you?

It's good that the scholarship is open to men (although I'm sure there would probably some bias against men who apply) but I don't like how it implies that something needs to be changed other than more women being interested in gaming.

Yay I get to miss out of a scholarship again because I happen to be a guy and even though there is a gender imbalance in the industry that is mostly caused by social perceptions of gaming being a male past time so that their are less girls enthusiastic about gaming and less that want to become developers but at least I am the one getting punished for the possible sins of my sex and society. Isn't this all wubbly :3

Out of my relatively little experience. My mother is the IT manager of the Australian part of a multinational investment company and she was hired to this position after being the IT manager for another investment company. I am not denying that sexism still exists. It most certainly does and in all likelihood will never go away but the only way to reduce its affect is time. Affirmative action is sexist to those applying for jobs and not those who select the applicants. The fastest way to end sexism would be to remove those who are sexist in there selection but you can't know that so you must wait until they remove themselves.

...And it seems one of the essay entries must discuss the importance of girls in the gaming industry or something like that.

Yep, gender equality went out the window right there. But hey, it's still a good chance for girls. I'm not gonna discuss whether the idea behind this is outdated or how this wasn't clear enough. It just is a good chance, is all.

cobra_ky:

Hevva:
10 or 20 years ago, there were virtually no women working in any area to do with computing.

In point of fact, the percentage of women working in the computer industry actually peaked in the mid 80's and has been on the decline ever since. i couldn't a free source on the internet for that statistic, but here's a chart showing a similar trend in Bachelor's degrees granted to women. i work at a software company now and there isn't a single female programmer under the age of 30. All the new young hires coming in (myself included) are exclusively male.

Anyone claiming that programs like this are unnecessary because man and women are "equal enough already" doesn't have a grip on reality. There's a reason the software industry as a whole isn't as appealing to women as it used to be, and i doubt it's because the maths suddenly got too hard.

Completely agree with your second point, and the first is interesting - thank you for enlightening me. It's worth remembering also that in the 60's and 70's, a degree wasn't a guarantee of a job for a woman - they were still expected to quit when they started having babies. That report looks interesting though, something good to read this afternoon. Ta!

You can't buy good game design. You can't purchase creativity and imaginative thought.

Throw all the money you want at people, it won't make a game good or the people who make the game care about what they're doing.

All you're doing is trapping people in jobs "because it was financially sound/available".

Why aren't things like this offered based on merit, not one's reproductive organs/skin colour/religious affiliation?

BanicRhys:
You know why the games industry is male dominated? Because men are more inclined to enjoy video games. You don't see anyone worrying about the lack of male teachers, do you?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-14748273
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/27/AR2006082700273.html

Yes i do.

and this doesn't have anything to do with women enjoying gaming; they already do. This has to do with hiring practices in the industry reflecting the growing audience of women.

CosmicCommander:
Why aren't things like this offered based on merit, not one's reproductive organs/skin colour/religious affiliation?

E: this IS being offered based on merit. did you read the requirements? there's nothing in reference to gender or reproductive organs.

cobra_ky:
E: this IS being offered based on merit. did you read the requirements? there's nothing in reference to gender or reproductive organs.

I read the Terms and Conditions, etc- it doesn't explicitly exclude men, but when you run a campaign with the name GIRL, and the goal being "gender equality", it's fairly self-evident that any applications from men are going to get binned fairly quickly.

I can see why they want to do this, and they do have every right to. But there are just as many talented, creative men who want to break into the industry. I don't see how gender (which this is fairly loudly crying out) should determine any of these things.

SirBryghtside:
the only way you can fix it is by kicking one side of the scales into the right place and then removing the support. This is the kick.

no.

you create more opportunities for both genders until the unisex opportunities overwhelm the sexist ones and they disappear entirely ( or become such a small margin they're invisible to anyone but a sociologist )

your way is simply 'equally sexist' which is entirely missing the point

People seem to have a lot of contempt for affirmative action programs, despite what you may have been told all groups are not yet equal and there are inequalities that still need to be corrected and it will not be fixed by simply doing nothing.

Hevva:
. For the longest time they were designed for the most part by men, starred men, were written about by men, etc.

Guh? As if to say, if more women in the industry, we'd get stories about women starring women? ...context is what justifies male protagonists, you aren't really going to be playing a Call of Duty with a female lead any time soon. This sentence is just illogical and weird, man. "Men are in the industry so we have stories about men!" ...yeah, well... yes? That's... um...

...most of the "better" female characters are written by and designed by men, anyway. Beyond Good and Evil? Was that designed by a man or a woman? ...or does it not matter? ...it's that. It doesn't matter. People will choose characters and stories suitable to the game they're making. Just because that so often is male-focused doesn't say anything about the people making the game.

It's the kind of design mentality that produces games like Barbie Horse Adventure. Eurgh.

Hevva:
(this goes for acknowledgement of physical difference too - like Bethesda did a neat thing pre-Skyrim where if you chose a female character you got lower strength but higher intelligence)

Perhaps I'm misinformed, but wasn't the reason why that's no longer the case in Skyrim that it was seen as sexist in previous games? And that enough people vocally complained about it in Oblivion that Bethesda didn't bother making stats rely on gender in Skyrim?

Perhaps I'm wrong about that, but if I'm right, I find it odd that you're praising something like that as an example of celebrating gender differences while the more vocal people campaigning for gender equality in the industry see such a thing as sexist.

To clarify my views: I agree with you on that, I think having such differences can be an important aspect of a game if done with tact, it's just seems odd because you seem to be in favor of the scholarship and the ideas it represents, when following those ideas is what caused that detail to be written out of Skyrim.

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