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SOE Founds Scholarship For Female Developer

On Tuesday night of the Game Developer's Conference, the team from Sony Online Entertainment announced that they would be providing money for a scholarship that will see one potential female developer awarded $10,000 toward their education at The Art Institutes.

SOE Founds Scholarship For Female Developer

On Tuesday evening, MMORPG.com attended an SOE gathering at the Game Developer's Conference. There, the company announced a new initiative that will see a $10,000 scholarship for The Art Institutes awarded to a deserving female candidate. On top of the tuition money, the winning candidate will receive a paid internship at one of SOE's numerous studios.

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The purpose of the scholarship program is to try to draw more women into the gaming industry, an industry that is currently male dominated. It is the hope that the scholarship, named G.I.R.L. (Gamers in Real Life) will eventually help to close the gender gap that currently exists on the development side of the industry.

According to a press release, Torrie Dorrell (VP of Global Sales and Marketing for SOE) had this to say:

"It's no secret to female gamers. Women are out there in significant numbers, playing MMOs, action games, first-person shooters, etc. What is lacking in the equation are women behind these games and we hope G.I.R.L. can help support this program. SOE's program is a key component of our G.I.R.L. initiative because the scholarship will be the gateway for one student into this field of expertise. I invite other publishers to join us in sup porting this initiative."

The scholarship announcement was accompanied by results of a survey that polled current female attendees of the Game Art and Design, Visual and Game Programming and Visual Effects and Motion Graphics programs at The Art Institutes. The survey included questions about how often the women play games, what positions they would like to enter at a game company upon graduation, and more. Below, please find some of the highlights of the survey:

Gaming Hours Per Week

Of the women surveyed, 38% of the respondents said that they played between six and ten hours a week, followed by 23% saying that they play between 11 and 20 hours. 19% answered that they spent more than 20 hours a week playing games. Everyone else falls into the category of less than 5 hours and an "I'm not sure" answer.

Jobs After Graduation

When asked what type of work the women would like to find after graduation from The Art Institutes, the largest number seemed to be focused in, not surprisingly, the art areas of the business with Modeler, Character Modeler, Texture Artist and Artist leading the pack and FX Artist and Video Postproduction Artist bringing up the rear.

The Perception that Fewer Women Enter Gaming Because it is Male Dominated

This last question seems to speak most directly to the issue at hand and supports the reason for this scholarship. On a scale from one to seven, seven being strongly agree and one being an answer of strongly disagree, 61% of respondents answered between five and seven when asked" "How much do you agree or disagree that fewer women enter the gaming industry because it is perceived to be male-dominated?"

While the topic of female gamers is one that many gaming fans have read about and talked about many times before, this survey and the scholarship that it supports look toward bringing more women into the development of video games that, even looking around here at the Game Developer's Conference, is certainly male-dominated. The result of a more gender-balanced industry, it is hoped, will result in the development of games that appeal to a broader spectrum of potential female gamers as well as the male gamers that still make up the majority of the industry's player base.

For those who might be interested, applications open on April 1st, 2008. Applicants must be currently enrolled in as a student at an Art Institutes school and must submit an in-game design, concept art and two essays. The deadline comes up on May 31st, 2008.