Contact: Kelli Hagen, 972-473-3534
or Robert Bobo, 214-768-7650
rbobo@smu.edu

 

Jan. 7, 2005

FIRST-EVER WOMEN'S VIDEO GAME SCHOLARSHIPS AWARDED

Dallas (SMU) – The Guildhall at SMU and WomenGamers.com have announced recipients of the first-ever women's only, industry-funded scholarships to attend the school, a one-of-a-kind digital games education program. Three newly enrolled and two existing female Guildhall students have received a total of $14,000 through the new scholarship fund.

Award winners Cynthia Bell, Hilary Kauder and Kim Mundy will begin classes in January as part of the fourth cohort of Guildhall students. Bell and Kauder will specialize in level design, a course of study offered only through The Guildhall, and Mundy will specialize in software development.

According to Pheadra Boinodiris, co-founder of WomenGamers.com, the scholarship fund is an example of how formal education is helping encourage positive changes in the gaming industry.

"WomenGamers.com and The Guildhall at SMU strove to spotlight the need for more women to pursue careers in the gaming industry by launching this scholarship," said Boinodiris. "These pioneering women submitted outstanding essays with their applications, and we hope they will be an inspiration to other women who might be considering careers in game development."

The WomenGamers.com Guildhall at SMU Scholarship for Women collected nearly $10,000 through donations from game industry companies including Sony Computer Entertainment America, gameLab, Her Interactive, MaryMargaret.com and Radical Entertainment. The school provided additional funding through Guildhall's Founders Scholarship Fund.

"We established the scholarship fund for women because there are tremendous opportunities available in the game development industry that women simply aren't aware of," says Guildhall's Executive Director Peter Raad. "We decided the best way to encourage women to explore these types of careers was to help open the door for them through education."

The number of women applying to the program has tripled since announcing the scholarship fund in September, and Raad says more interest among women seems to be taking hold. However, he says the school's goal isn't merely to admit more women into the program.

"In a much larger sense, our goal is also to educate the public across the board that these career opportunities exist -- from being a digital artist and 3D animator to writing software programs. The game development industry offers some incredibly challenging career choices."

The Guildhall's current female students are set to graduate in July 2005, and Raad says he expects them to represent the program well to the industry when they leave. "As more women like Jackie Gan and Jennifer Canada show the industry how much they have to contribute, I believe more companies will be eager to support our efforts to cultivate talented women who want to become game developers."

Raad says the school would like to offer financial assistance through the WomenGamers.com scholarship to at least one woman in each new cohort of students. However, accomplishing this goal "will be impossible without the active support of the game development industry."

For more details regarding this scholarship -- how to make donations and how to apply -- visit guildhall.smu.edu.

***

The Guildhall at SMU is a unique game development education program offered in Dallas by the Hart eCenter at SMU. The Guildhall's 18-month graduate certificate program responds to the industry's need for professionals who are immediately productive upon graduation and whose education prepares them to become gaming innovators of the future. Course project requirements give students three completed games for their portfolios. Game development luminaries such as Graeme Devine, Levelord, Tom Hall, Paul Jaquays, John Romero and more, came to the Hart eCenter with a vision for this new kind of program and have been closely involved with The Guildhall's concept and design. These experts and others remain involved with the program as teachers, tutors and mentors. More information about The Guildhall at SMU and how to apply for admission is at guildhall.smu.edu.

WomenGamers.com
Since its launch in July of 1999, WomenGamers.Com is expanding the $6.3 billion market opportunity of the interactive entertainment industry by specifically addressing the needs of a currently untapped and eager market segment -- women -- with a unique gaming portal on the internet. Their ultimate aim is to establish an environment where women gamers can be integrated with the rest of the gaming community. WomenGamers.Com provides in-depth, accurate information about gaming and game contents to gamers, and to those who have the responsibility of buying games for their families.

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