Each year VFS awards an outstanding candidate the Women in Game Scholarship to the Game Design program, which sets them on the way to being next generation game designers. But this year, for the 5th Annual edition, there is a bit of a surprise — the candidates were so impressive that we awarded it to four of them!
Two winners will be arriving in April, and the other two will be arriving in June. All of the winners of the scholarship will be sharing their experience with everybody by way of blog posts to Arcade. You can read the posts of the current Women in Games Scholarship winner Kristina Soltvedt from Norway (who will graduate from VFS this June) here. Previous winners Shannon Lee of Canada, (now at BigPark Games), Annie Dickerson from USA, (currently at Grantoo), and Larissa Baptista from Brazil, (who won a Unity Award for best Student game and is currently with DeNa Studios) have graduated and are now making their mark in the games industry.
The first of its kind in the world, this scholarship provides full tuition for an aspiring female game designer to VFS’s acclaimed one-year Game Design program. The purpose is promoting gender equality within the industry. The scholarship was established by Vancouver Film School to encourage women, and create more opportunities for those wishing to pursue game design as a career in a field traditionally dominated by men – around 80% according to a Game Developer survey.
We asked the winners how they felt when they got the news about being rewarded the scholarship and what about their year at VFS were they most looking forward to, and this is how they responded:
Janel Jolly, Canada
When I heard the news, I entered a two-day daze of joy and disbelief. My dream was really happening. Over the years I’ve been slowly inching my way into the industry, but I feel like this scholarship has given me rabbit’s feet to help reach my destination. The long road to success is both frightening and exciting, but I’m ready for the journey and eager to face whatever challenges are ahead.
I love gaming, and Vancouver Film School supports that passion. I look forward to working beside other gaming enthusiasts who have made a career in this field, but I’m more excited about sharing this adventure with my classmates, who are making similar journeys. The faculty at VFS is one of the best, so the obstacles will be a tough… but it will be a great adventure, and a life-changing experience. I feel incredibly fortunate to have this opportunity, and will repay the generosity of the scholarship committee by making great games.
Nicha Jaiadesuk, Thailand
At first I was completely overwhelmed. I needed a few minutes. I think I’m still processing it. I feel like I’m floating on a cloud. I’m incredibly happy and thankful. I think I will never feel I’ve said “thank you” enough times. I read the result very early in the morning before going to work, and when I arrived there and told my teammates the news, they said “Really????” and I answered “Well I don’t know if it’s real or a dream, I still don’t believe it!”
Of course, I’m thrilled to be learning everything I always wanted to as a real subject in a real school, finally getting a formal, first-class education in what I love. I have the strong feeling that I will grow so much personally and professionally in this year… I am really looking forward to it.
Anna Prein, Russia
I actually had to get up and prance through my apartment for a couple of minutes to get all the giddiness to stop. It’s hard to be calm when I think of all the amazing things ahead of me this year. Learning some proper coding seems exciting, but most of all I’m looking forward to the final projects, and the challenges involved in that.
Jaymee Mak, Australia
When I found out, I said “What?!” about a hundred times for the next hour. I was stunned, excited and I’m grateful for the opportunity. It didn’t sink in at first, but when it did, I yelped, “I’m going to Canada!”
I’m looking forward to immersing myself in every facet of Vancouver culture and being inspired by my new surroundings, as well as by my mentors and peers at VSF. I’m also looking forward to gaining the skills I need to make my game, ‘The Only Girl in the World’.
Here is what Game Design’s Head of Department, Dave Warfield had to say about the candidates:
“When we first started the Women in Games Scholarship I was very excited to see that there were always one or two candidates that really stood out, who I truly believed could make an impact in the Games Industry. Women like Shannon Lee and Annie Dickerson not only excelled in the Game Design program, but they also brought their classmates up to a higher level. This year it seems the word has spread about this scholarship and the success of past winners, because the number of high quality applications exploded. It was too hard to select just one candidate out of this wide variety of applicants, so we focused on four women who stood out, women who we believe will not only excel, but who will improve the quality of their entire classes.”