For the past two school years we’ve partnered with Gay Gaming Professionals, a nonprofit that helps identify community-oriented LGBTQ+ game development students for scholarship opportunities, and the Entertainment Software Association to award $5,000 scholarships to some very deserving students (and extremely promising game developers in training). We’re pleased to announce that applications are now open for the 2023–2024 school year.
In addition to the funding, a big highlight of the program is that it offers the scholars a unique opportunity to be paired with Dreamhaven developers who match their interests and needs, in order to learn more about the discipline they’re pursuing as well as different areas of game development and studio operations.
Inside the Mentorship
Randen, one of our current scholars who’s studying to become a narrative designer at the University of California (Irvine), feels his mentorship experience has provided him with invaluable insight into good level design: “What makes a good level isn’t how flashy or decorated it is; it’s how clear it conveys to players what you need to do and how to do it . . . guiding the player toward their objective without outright holding their hand.”
After an in-depth initial discussion to explore Randen’s background and preferences, his primary mentor, Moonshot designer Nicole Thayer, went on to meet with Randen monthly, connecting him with some of her own work, sharing insights and experiences, and providing feedback on the work he’s doing at school. She also set him up with several focused sessions with other developers throughout the company.
Reflecting his experience partnering with Nicole, as well as his studies, Randen’s perspective on the most important quality of a successful narrative designer is communication. “By avidly talking with other departments throughout the development process, from conception to polishing, you can properly intertwine a story through most all aspects of a game.”
Our other 2022–2023 scholar, University of Utah senior Devyn, noted that the “unique expectations and culture of the games industry are a lot easier to learn when you have a live person like a mentor to learn from and ask questions to.”
That primary mentor in Devyn’s case has been Moonshot artist Hadidjah Chamberlin, who feels Devyn has “a clear and empathetic sense of purpose and passion for games as a medium.” Hadidjah particularly appreciated Devyn’s commitment to making games a more welcoming space where the stories of a more diverse range of characters are told.
For Devyn, as for Randen and many others, the desire to enter the industry was in part fueled by personal observations that hit close to home: “LGBTQ+ representation in games and the industry was lacking . . . and I questioned how I would be treated if I pursued work in games. I eventually found resolve in wanting to make representation better. Diversity makes games, their communities, and the teams that make them better. As representation in games improves, future aspiring LGBTQ+ developers won’t have to hesitate the way I did.”
We agree. Games do so much good for so many people—through the relief, escape, and self-reflection they help bring; the individual skills they help develop; the community bonds they help create across social and geographical boundaries; and more—and that’s why diverse representation in games and among game developers is so important. Everyone deserves to feel seen, and included, and to have an open and welcoming opportunity to participate in and benefit from a career in gaming and from the huge range of gaming experiences out there.
Looking Ahead to Year Three
Getting to know and work with Randen and Devyn has been a rewarding experience for everyone involved at Dreamhaven, and we’re looking forward to reviewing the next round of applicants for year three of the scholarship program.
To learn more and apply, visit the GGP application site. Applications close April 30, and recipients will be announced in June.