Considering a recent article in Edge that claims that the number of women working in the game industry is actually on the decline, it’s easier to swallow SOE’s terrible G.I.R.L. acronym for the actual good the initiative does. The G.I.R.L. (it stands for Gamers In Real Life, sigh) scholarship program, which begins accepting entries for its 2013 award next month, offers a 10-week internship (at SOE) and a $10,000 scholarship to one college woman (currently pursuing a degree in a field related to games) who intends to go into the game industry.
It is an admirable program that’s seen several women placed in solid positions across the industry since its first iteration in 2008. SOE's senior VP of global sales and marketing gave Games Industry International a phenomenal pullquote regarding the importance of such a program earlier today:
Over the years we've watched the games industry evolve, and now people are gaming from every walk of life because of mobile devices and the different platforms. The genres are evolving and now there's a game for everybody. So 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.
Can I get a hell yeah and a #1ReasonWhyNot hashtag? It would be phenomenal if more studios showed this sort of forward thinking – even if the fact that one winner per year isn’t exactly going to tip the scales. It shows a cultural attitude of inclusivity and represents at the very least, a willingness to put some money (and a valuable networking opportunity) into the pot in an attempt to address a big, complicated problem.
No, one scholarship isn’t going to create thousands of jobs that encourage work/life balance, or destroy all sexism in industry culture. It won’t set up the groundwork for an industry-wide mentorship culture, either, which would certainly benefit male and female employees starting out in their careers. But it is a step in the right direction.