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The GDC Europe & Gamescom Experience

The IGDA scholars have wrapped up their experience at GDC Europe and Gamescom in Cologne, Germany. This year scholars met with Lewis Brown from EA about how to get into industry, spoke with Tim Symons from Nintendo Europe about publishing with Nintendo, sat down with industry legend Don Daglow, received special access to the Sony Press Conference, had a Q&A with Brenda and John Romero, met with Oculus Product Lead Joe Chen, and grabbed lunch with Microsoft Tech Evangelist Lee Stott! They finished their amazing conference experience having a Q&A and goodbye dinner with IGDA executive director Kate Edwards.

We wanted to give a special thanks to all of the wonderful volunteers, mentors, organizations, and companies that made this possible. You can check out the scholars’ Storify below. Look out for GDC 2015 applications opening in the Fall. If you would like to help continue to make this amazing program possible, please visit to donate!

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The IGDA Scholars at GDCE & Gamescom!

GDC Europe & Gamescom are here and  that means you can follow our scholarship winners on Twitter! Look out for the #IGDAScholars hashtag, and as always, our @IGDA_Scholars account will be retweeting scholars’ pictures and experiences from the events!

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Where Are They Now: Gillian Smith

Where Are They Now? showcases interviews from former IGDA scholars. IGDA scholarship recipients have accomplished impressive professional feats since their time in the program.  These accomplishments range from working on award winning games to founding companies. Past IGDA scholars have pursued a variety of paths in the game industry and this series hopes to catalog those paths for supporters & participants of the program.

Read more interviews by clicking here.

Meet Gillian Smith

Gillian Smith is a professor, innovator, and design guru.

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She is an Assistant Professor in Computer Science and Game Design at Northeastern University, where she is a core faculty member in the Playable Innovative Technologies (PLAIT) lab. She earned her PhD in Computer Science in 2012 from UC Santa Cruz’s Center for Games and Playable Media.

Gillian’s research lies on the intersection of artificial intelligence, game design, and human-computer interaction–in particular, she is interested in procedural content generators and how humans can interact with them to craft unique experiences.

Why did you apply for the IGDA Scholars program?

I applied for IGDA Scholars when I was a PhD student. I wanted to gain insight into some of the design problems that are faced in industry from the people who actually work in that space every day. I was accepted into the scholars program at the Game Developers Conference in 2010.


What was the biggest benefit of the IGDA Scholars program for you?

Attending talks and trying to chat with the speakers afterwards to ask questions. My goal was to learn about the current state of design and development in the industry, and the talks were a fabulous way to do that. But I definitely wouldn’t want to downplay the value of networking at the conference… I met several people at the conference who I’m still in touch with today. I remember skipping a few talks because I was in the middle of interesting conversations that I wanted to continue.

What projects have you worked on since the IGDA Scholars program? Upcoming plans?

I came away from a GDC with a much stronger interest in design, as opposed to the pretty technical path I’d been on before. That increased interest (among other factors, of course) led to me leading a team to create an experimental game called Endless Web, which formed part of my PhD research and will be released quite soon! I am now an assistant professor at Northeastern University, where I teach computer science and game design.


What advice would you give those applying to the IGDA Scholars program?

First of all: definitely apply! I didn’t really expect to be chosen as an IGDA scholar, and I’m obviously really glad I tried anyway. Also make sure to say why it is you want to interact with people in the industry — everyone loves games and thinks it would be awesome to go to one of the events, so put some thought into what you personally want to learn or experience when you go.

Learn more about Gillian by visiting her website and follow her on Twitter.

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GDC 2014 Former Scholars Reports Available Now!

Are you a scholar looking to attend one of our opportunities in 2015? Want to know what previous experiences have been like for our scholarship recipients? You can now read about the amazing experiences our IGDA scholars had GDC 2014! Check out our scholars reports by clicking here!

Stay up to date on future opportunities by following us on Twitter @igda_scholars and don’t forget that applications for Tokyo Game Show and CEDEC are due by July 10th! Apply for TGS & CEDEC scholarships at

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Congrats to our 2014 GDCE & Gamescom Scholars!

We are excited to reveal the newest IGDA scholarship recipients! The IGDA scholarship committee welcomes and congratulates 8 bright students to attend GDC Europe (Aug. 11-13th) and Gamescom (Aug. 13th-17th) this year in Cologne, Germany. Here is the list of winners!

  • GDCEandGamesComImageJuney Dijkstra (University of Utrecht, Netherlands)
  • Anders Hillestad (Norwegian School of Information Technology, Norway)
  • Luci Holland (The University of Edinburgh, Scotland)
  • Alexander Muscat (RMIT University, Australia)
  • Karstein Røsnes Ersdal (Norwegian School of Information Technology, Norway)
  • John Sandford ( Bournemouth University, United Kingdom)
  • Nicholas Witsel (University for the Arts Utrecht, Netherlands)
  • Christina Kalinger (University of Utah, USA)

Each year we award select scholars with passes to GDC Europe & Gamescom, schedule booth tours and exclusive Q&A sessions, and match each of them with industry veterans as mentors. You can read the bios of our scholarship winners by clicking here.

Tokyo Games Show & CEDEC in Japan are the last stops for IGDA scholarships in 2014. If you would like to attend as an IGDA Scholar, visit here to apply.  If you missed out on receiving a 2014 scholarship to GDC Europe or Gamescom and want to be a part of this great experience, look for applications to open in the fall for GDC 2015! You can find out when applications will open by following us on twitter @igda_scholars and by bookmarking this blog!

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The IGDA Scholars had an Amazing E3!

The IGDA scholars had an AMAZING experience this year at E3. Award recipients toured studios EALA & Insomniac Games. They had Q&A sessions with Justin Berenbaum from 505 Games, Tim Symons from Nintendo Europe, Brian Fargo from inXile Entertainment, and Chris Jurney from Supergiant Games. They also received special booth tours & access courtesy of Disney, Destiny, Sony Europe, Ubisoft, Oculus, Bethesda, Indiecade, and Ouya.

We’d like to thank everyone who helped us set up this experience, from our contacts and sponsors who gave their time and resources to our scholars, to our volunteers behind the scenes. We’ve cataloged these experiences into a storify of Twitter posts shared to #igdascholars. Click Read More to see the storify on our website or click here to see it on!

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IGDA Scholars on Twitter

As our Scholars arrive in Los Angeles and E3 begins, remember that you can follow Scholar activities on Twitter throughout the week on the #IGDAScholars hashtag! Our @IGDA_Scholars account, now featured in the sidebar, will also be retweeting many of the Scholars’ tweets throughout the week, so stay posted!

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