GDC 2018 Applications OPEN


IGDA Foundation GDC 2017 Scholarship Recipients and Volunteers

The IGDA Foundation is excited to announce that applications for its IGDA Scholars, Women in Games Ambassadors, and Next Gen Leaders programs at GDC 2018 are OPEN!

Each program includes an All-Access GDC pass, thanks to the generosity of UBM Tech Media, a travel stipend, and a mentor selected especially for the participant.  The programs also offer specific experiences for their participants.

The IGDA Scholars program, in its 17th year, is open to promising students, pursuing a degree in a field related to game development, from around the world.  In addition to the pass, travel stipend, and mentor, participants enjoy exclusive developer Q&A sessions, studio tours, and an introduction to game development as a career.

The Women in Games Ambassadors program supports students from around the world who identify as women, and who have graduated in the past six months or will be graduating in the next six months, in finding their first professional employment as a game developer.  Designed to support all career goals, from employment at a AAA studio to working as an indie developer to starting a studio, Women in Games Ambassadors provides resume and portfolio reviews, exclusive receptions with leading companies, developer Q&A sessions, coaching on how to be an effective advocate for inclusivity in the industry, and ongoing support.

Next Gen Leaders helps to retain under-represented minority game developers.  In addition to the travel stipend, GDC pass, and mentor, participants receive two days of personal and professional development workshops, ongoing support, and are invited to participate in the program at GDC 2019 as well.

Learn more about these outstanding programs and apply today!  Applications for all programs close on December 6, 2017, and scholarship recipients will be announced in late January.

Announcing our 2017 MIGW Scholar Recipients

migw@2xAfter a thorough judging process we’re pleased to announce our 8 IGDA Scholars for the 2017 Melbourne International Games Week!

Thanks to the generosity of GDAA, Unity, PAX AUS, and Creative Victoria as well as the efforts of the IGDA Foundation and the IGDA Scholarship committee, these selected students will receive scholarships including a travel stipend as well as passes to attend Game Connect Asia Pacific, Unite Melbourne, and PAX AUS. The scholars will also get access to one-on-one mentorship from industry veterans, special Q&A sessions with some of the game industry’s most influential developers, and more!


Here are this year’s MIGW Scholars:

Christopher Wratt (Victoria University of Wellington)

Chima Ngerem (Nigerian Law School)

Aidan Wall (Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam)

Emily Mulgrue (Academy of Interactive Entertainment, Melbourne)

Andrea Hayes (The University of the Witwatersrand)

Mahli-Ann Butt (The University of Sydney)

Noni Och (Academy of Interactive Entertainment

Rohan Malone (SAE Institute Melbourne)


Visit our scholars page here to read more about each recipient.

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Our scholarships organizing team and volunteers will be retweeting and sharing our IGDA Scholar’s MIGW experience live on Twitter! Follow our Twitter account, @IGDA_Scholars, or the hashtag #IGDAScholars to keep up with all the action!

Welcome New Volunteer Leaders

Volunteers make the IGDA Foundation’s work possible, and nowhere is this more true than in our IGDA Scholars, Women in Games Ambassadors, and Next Gen Leaders programs.  So while I’m thrilled to announce new volunteers joining the IGDA Foundation team today, it’s also a bittersweet occasion, as we recognize the outstanding contributions of our retiring volunteers.

Molly Proffitt has led the IGDA Scholars volunteer team of Justin Lara and Erich Schuler for three years, delivering a consistently outstanding IGDA Scholars experience for conferences around the world, introducing literally hundred of aspiring game developers to mentors, supporters, and career possibilities.  It’s impossible to overstate the impact of Molly and her team to the IGDA Scholars program, the IGDA Foundation, and our game development community.  We are very fortunate to have received so much of their time, effort, and passion over the past three years, and we give Molly, Erich, and Justin our heartfelt thanks and very best wishes.


1VXuJ1F1_400x400SarahSpiersWhile replacing Molly and team is an almost-impossible task, we think we’ve made a great start.  Oleg Brodskiy, our new Program Director for the IGDA Scholars, is an IGDA Scholar alumnus, COO & Festival Chair of the Boston Festival of Indie Games, and combines both his experiences supporting the game developer community with extensive experience in managing projects and programs.  Joining Oleg as one of our IGDA Scholars Program Coordinators is Sarah Spiers, also an IGDA Scholars alumna and experienced game developer and community volunteer.  Welcome, Oleg and Sarah-we know the IGDA Scholars program is in great hands!

PBWI’m also thrilled to announce a new Program Director for our Next Gen Leaders program, Patricia Beckmann Wells.  In addition to her work as a tenured professor at Irvine Valley College, and her creative endeavors as a game developer and film director and producer, Patricia has also led training and development programs at Walt Disney Animation and Dreamworks.

aaeaaqaaaaaaaag1aaaajgu1ztu1mzdilwm0otytndk1ny05ywm2lwfjyjzhodflzwizmaI would be remiss if I failed to recognize the contributions of our returning Program Director for the Women in Games Ambassadors program, Cat Wendt.  Cat built the WiGAm program from scratch, supporting a more diverse and inclusive game development community and introducing women from around the world to careers in game development.  We’re absolutely delighted that Cat is returning to lead the WiGAm program again this year.

FB_IMG_1507130781599And, last but certainly not least, please join me in welcoming the IGDA Foundation’s new Operations Manager, Brie Wendt, who will be helping us provide better programs, support our volunteers to make a bigger impact on their communities, and grow our funding.  Brie is a long-time IGDA and IGDA Foundation volunteer with extensive experience in operations management, and she’s already made a huge impact on the function of the IGDA Foundation.  

We’ve already started our planning for GDC 2018, and we’re getting ready for a great show!  You’ll be hearing from Oleg, Cat, Patricia, Brie, and me over the upcoming months with exciting news and announcements.  In the meantime, please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or feedback you may have.

-Jen MacLean, Managing Director, IGDA Foundation

Exciting News from our Managing Director, Jen MacLean

FEN-102615-Edit (1)Today, the IGDA announced my appointment as interim Executive Director. As I think about the opportunities to make an impact on game developers and our industry, I couldn’t be more excited by my dual roles with the IGDA and IGDA Foundation.

The IGDA and IGDA Foundation have profound, complimentary missions. While the IGDA focuses on improving the lives of game developers around the world through community, advocacy, and compelling member benefits, the IGDA Foundation supports the creation of a more diverse, inclusive industry. Both groups believe strongly in the power of games as a medium, and in the need to provide an amazing environment for game developers around the world to practice their craft.

In many ways, this opportunity to dual-wield leadership roles at two of the largest, and most impactful, organizations in our industry provides an unprecedented mechanism for supporting games and their creators. As the IGDA is the largest member organization in game development, a closer partnership with the organization provides a boost in reach for the IGDA Foundation and its work. And the Foundation’s efforts to introduce a broader pipeline of talent to game development as a career, support diverse creators in remaining part of the industry, and driving awareness of the importance, and benefits, of an inclusive industry offer benefits for every developer, and studio, around the world.

I look forward to leading the Foundation in its expansion, both into new programs and a wider reach, and I hope you’ll join me in supporting the Foundation and its work to make the game developer community, and the games we create, amazing experiences for everyone.

Jen MacLean

Announcing the first MIGW Scholars Program

Melbourne International Games Week

The IGDA Foundation is pleased to announce the opening of its first ever MIGW IGDA Scholars program to take place 22-29 October 2017. Melbourne International Games Week warmly embraces the IGDA Scholars program and is excited to welcome the IGDA scholars to Melbourne, Australia. In 2016, over 60,000 people attended this critical event in the Australia games community. The IGDA Foundation is grateful for the generosity of the GDAA, Unity, PAX AUS, and Creative Victoria so that 8 scholarship recipients will receive scholarships to attend Game Connect Asia Pacific, Unite Melbourne, and PAX AUS as part of the MIGW Scholars program. Recipients will also receive a travel stipend valued between $500 and $2000 USD depending on distance traveled from the IGDA Foundation.

To apply visit and submit your application by 1 Aug 2017.

Eligible recipients, must be over the age of 18 at the date of application and a university student, including undergraduate, postgraduate, and advanced degrees, or have graduated from a university within 6 months before 22 Oct, 2017. The MIGW Scholars program is intended for students studying to receive a bachelors degree, masters degree, or PhD in games or games-related fields who intend to pursue a career in games. It is an incredible opportunity for those who are interested in entrepreneurship, game design, and games business and ideal for those interested in independent development studios and the mobile games industry. Students, do not miss this once in a lifetime chance to travel to Australia and explore Melbourne International Games Week!

We would also like to thank the following members of the Australia games community who were critical in making this event happen: Giselle Rosman, Liam Esler, and Amelia King as well as the organizations, volunteers, and doners who have worked with us to provide this opportunity to our scholars.

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For news about IGDA Scholars follow us on Twitter @IGDA_Scholars and @IGDAFoundation.

IGDAF @ GDC 2017: Making the Industry Stronger and More Diverse

It’s been a bit more than a month since the conclusion of another amazing GDC, and now that we’ve all had time to reflect, recover, and marvel at the amazing experiences we shared, the IGDA Foundation wanted to share the impact of our efforts at GDC.5D4_7621

Our GDC programs included the IGDA Scholars (for the 16th year!), Women in Games Ambassadors, and our newest program, Next Gen Leaders.  Each of these programs helps us create a better industry for game developers by supporting the best and brightest students seeking to join the industry and actively encouraging the inclusion and retention of under-represented minority game devs.

Our programs touch a broad range of participants and volunteers: 135 students, developers, mentors, speakers, and supporters directly engaged in our efforts at GDC 2017.  We accept less than 10% of the talented students and game developers who apply to our programs, and we strive to give every participant a unique, life-changing experience that supports their personal and professional growth.

5D4_7607We made a difference in the lives of those participants: according to our post-GDC survey, 100% of IGDA Foundation participants would recommend their program to a friend our colleague, 83% believe their program made it more likely they’ll find or continue a career in game development, and 90% feel more positively about game development thanks to their experience with the IGDA Foundation.

We can also see the impact of our programs through the success of our alumni:  IGDA Foundation program alumni and current year participants delivered 28 sessions at GDC 2017, arguably the most prestigious and in-demand professional speaking opportunity in our industry!  

We’re also making progress on our goal of supporting an industry that reflects the diversity of the people who love and play games.  Across all of our programs, 77% of our participants identify as female, 40% are people of color, and 40% identify as LGBTQIA.  

Copy of 5D4_7616These programs wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of our sponsors and supporters.  We offer a heartfelt thank you to Intel, Xbox, the Bigglesworth Family Foundation, Double Fine Productions, and Zynga for their financial, experiential, and logistical support of the IGDA Foundation.  And we couldn’t provide our programs without Meggan Scavio and the GDC team, who not only create the pre-eminent conference for game developers each year but who generously donate GDC passes for our participants.

We’re looking forward to GDC 2018 and the chance to impact even more students and developers!  And in the meantime, we’re actively planning to expand the efforts of the IGDA Foundation to make an even bigger improvement to the lives of game developers.  If you’d like to get involved, we’d love your help!  You can reach me at

Animation Exchange – Livestream Supports IGDA Foundation

Not everybody gets to go to GDC, and that’s a shame. We try to help with our various scholarship programs, but we know that this week can still be a bittersweet one for many people trapped at home. But fear not, for our good friends at the Animation Exchange have you covered, with a full 8 hours of talks about animation on Tuesday February 28th, from 2pm to 10pm PST.
For that whole time Animation Exchange will be taking over Twitch, streaming sessions live. With content from Blizzard, Epic, Ubisoft, Riot, Naughty Dog and many many more, we’re sure that for people passionate about the art and tech of animation, you will find something of great interest.
And what’s more, the fine folks behind this awesome event have offered to raise awareness and fund for the IGDA Foundation. We’re very grateful for this support, and we hope you’ll check out their full schedule and tune in!

The IGDA Foundation at GDC 2017

GDC 2017 is less than a week away, and I’m so excited for the activities and programs we have planned!  Over the past months, a team of dedicated volunteers has been preparing some amazing initiatives, and we want to make sure you know about what’s going on with the IGDA Foundation at GDC.

Our programs support inclusivity in our industry and help improve the lives of current and future game developers, and we’re very proud to contribute to the outstanding programming at GDC-this year, 28 GDC speakers are IGDA Foundation alumni or current program participants!  We’re very excited to recognize the accomplishments of our extended community (but we’re not very surprised to see these exceptional alumni sharing their knowledge, accomplishments, leadership, and innovation at GDC).

In addition to congratulating our alumni, we’re showcasing our current programs as well as ways to get involved in the game development community.  All of our GDC programs include all-access passes to the conference, generously provided by GDC, but each offers a unique experience,  designed to help introduce and retain outstanding students and game developers.

First and foremost, the IGDA Scholars program turns 16!  This program selects the best and brightest game development students for a week-long intensive introduction to game development as a career.  In addition to all-access passes to the conference, students tour local game studios, have exclusive Q&A sessions with industry luminaries, and receive mentorship to further support their game development careers.  The Scholars program also includes the Eric Dybsand Memorial AI Scholarship, available to a student whose studies focus on AI in games.

Our Women in Games Ambassadors program, supported by Intel and the Bigglesworth Foundation, provides a unique opportunity for women to experience an accelerated entry into a game development career, through exclusive networking events, resume and portfolio reviews, and an all-access pass to GDC.

Next Gen Leaders, our newest program,  was introduced this year thanks to the generous sponsorship of Xbox.  The Next Gen Leaders experience is created specifically to help retain under-represented minorities in game development by providing workshops for personal and professional growth, a mentor, and an all-access pass to GDC.

We’re very proud of the impact these programs will have on their participants, but we want to do more to support game developers.  If you participate in a game development-focused community organization, be sure to attend our Roundtable at GDC on Wednesday at 11 AM, in Room 111 in the North Hall.  Our Chair, Luke Dicken, will lead a discussion on how to maximize financial and community support for chapters, SIGs, and other game development organizations, including an overview of how to get grants from the IGDA Foundation and additional support to boost your program.

In addition to these opportunities for game developers, if you’d like to learn more about how YOU can support the IGDA Foundation, please don’t hesitate to contact me at GDC.  Safe travels, and see you in San Francisco!



Meet the 2017 IGDA Foundation Women in Games Ambassadors

The 2017 IGDA Foundation Women in Games Ambassadors have been selected! Congratulations to our winners!

The competition was fierce, and we’re proud to showcase an exceptional group of women, who represent a diverse range of professional backgrounds and some of the most promising rising talent within games.

As part of our Women in Games Ambassadors program, these women will receive a once-in-a-lifetime experience with All-Access passes, travel stipends, special Q&A sessions with game industry insiders, and a week full of exclusive insider events and opportunities.

Read more about these incredible women here.

We are grateful for the support of GDC, Intel and the Bigglesworth Foundation, whose generosity makes this program possible.

Announcing the 2017 IGDA Foundation Next Gen Leaders

In partnership with Xbox, we’re thrilled to announce the inaugural cohort for the Next Gen Leaders program.  Through this initiative, we’re excited to support inclusivity in game development through an innovative leadership program that includes an all-access pass to GDC, generously provided by UBM, a two-day summit for personal xbox-2014-stacked-rgb-pngand professional development, a travel stipend, and a mentor individually selected to help the program participant achieve their professional goals.

These exceptional developers, who are also members of under-represented minorities in game development, have shown a profound commitment to their craft and community.  They represent the future of game development, and we are very excited to support them in their development careers.

Please join us in congratulating the 2017 Next Gen Leaders.


Brian Chung
bsc_profile_largeBrian S. Chung is a game designer, artist, and educator.

He is the codirector of the game development studio The Sheep’s Meow, which also doubles as a community organization that supports creators of games and interactive art in New Jersey and New York City. Their mission is to support local developers, make game creation inclusive & accessible, and help people get started making their own games.

His games have been played by millions of players worldwide. His professional design work has included serving as the lead game designer and manager of the design team at Fantage, a virtual world with over 30 million players; game designer at Sony Online Entertainment, working on EverQuest; and game designer & user experience designer of apps, websites, and games for a wide range of clients, such as LEGO, PowerBar, and PETA. His game installation and performance art has exhibited internationally at the Stedelijk Museum ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Museum of the Moving Image, Babycastles Gallery, Come Out & Play Festival, and more.

He is currently a visiting professor of Creative Arts & Technology at Bloomfield College, where he helps direct the undergraduate game development program.


Caroline Guevara

PSX_20160219_202154 (1)Caroline Guevara is a Production Coordinator for the Mobile Games Department at Cartoon Network Digital. She is in charge of creating free and premium titles for the mobile market and web with the lovable quirky characters of current Cartoon Network shows. She got to this point by pursuing her longtime love of video games with a B.F.A. in Computer Game Design from George Mason University and a M.S. in Digital Media from Drexel University.

Ever since she was young, Caroline was always seen playing with a dusty Sega Genesis or drawing new characters inspired from games or anime. The collection of games, handhelds and consoles grew and only pushed her to pursue what she had always dreamed of doing – creating games for the world to enjoy. From her graduate studies, Caroline still has an interest in games that teach socioeconomic issues and/or engage the player with moral choices – such as “Papers, Please” or others as simple as Bioshock that deliver different scenarios based on story branches chosen. Her ultimate goal as her career develops is to be a creative director.


Jennifer Ashiru

JenniferAshiruJennifer Ashiru is an Associate Games Producer at Cartoon Network Games, where she produces fun and innovative mobile games for a TV network that she grew up watching as a kid. She’s responsible for working with and directing the efforts of key stakeholders and third party developers through all phases of development. Her love for gaming stems heavily from visual storytelling in games — some might even say she’s a huge point and click nerd.

Jennifer holds a BA in Art History/Visual Arts and a minor in Computer Science from Emory University. This combination of coursework allowed her to design her own program, exploring and creating games from a unique perspective. Additionally, Jennifer’s efforts have led her to work with and develop the growing games and media-focused interests of various students from SCAD, Georgia Tech, and Emory.


Jesseca Lee
jlee_headshotJesseca Lee is a game designer at Jam City in San Francisco where she is busily making mobile magic. She is wildly excited about the democratization of play through the proliferation of portable devices.

Jesseca got her start in games by connecting with the grassroots development community in her hometown of Miami before moving to New York City to study with Code Liberation. She then traveled west to California, created an award-winning prototype about infinitely gardening space deer at GXDev, and got to speak about her journey at GaymerX.

Currently, Jesseca designs puzzles and interactive narratives with Jam City. A writer of fiction by academic training, she is incredibly passionate about storytelling in new mediums. Interactivity augments the human capacity for empathy in a way that Jesseca feels is particularly critical to both games as an industry and to narrative as a craft.

As a self-proclaimed futurist, Jesseca is very enthusiastic about virtual reality and the new design challenges posited by play in three-dimensional virtual arenas. She hopes to pioneer the application of AR/VR in mental health treatment, particularly with regards to assisting survivors of trauma in their healing processes. Jesseca seeks to use VR to construct experiences which explore the ways engaging in play can build and strengthen self-efficacy,

Her favorite game is Ico.


Juan Vaca
jvacaJuan Vaca is an American game designer at Telltale Games in Northern California. He is an advocate for authentic representation in storytelling. Juan believes the player agency created in games can be a powerful tool for empathy.

Juan graduated with honors from the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California with a degree in Interactive Entertainment. He credits his success to the discipline and life skills he learned while in the Marines.

As a mental health advocate, he shares advice, feedback, and his experiences via social media and as a speaker on mental health panels at conventions. He volunteers with assisting other veterans and service members in the gaming community.

His credits include: Telltale’s The Walking Dead Series, Tales from the Borderlands, Batman, The Amazing Spider-Man: The Game, Avengers: Battle for Earth, and Deadpool. He is currently writing his memoirs from his time in the service as a Marine sniper.

Juan can be found on his couch watching movies, playing games, or reading comics. He also plays the jug, yes, jug and baritone horn for The Rivertown Skifflers, “The Best Jug Band in the Bay Area,” according to him.


Karen McCarthy
KarenMcCarthy_picKaren McCarthy is a 3D character artist who currently works at EA Sports in Orlando, Florida.  Before this she was an artist at Hapa Games and helped release the game Ascendant while working closely with a small team.  She has worked on several titles in only a few years including NBA Live, PGA Tour, and Madden.  She holds a Master’s of Science degree in Interactive Entertainment from Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA).

Most of Karen’s time is spent creating art and games, but when she is not working on her computer tan she enjoys playing soccer and learning ballroom dancing.  She hopes to always be involved in the game development community and to be a helping hand for students interested in or learning game development.

Leena van Deventer
leenavandeventerLeena van Deventer is a game developer and writer from Melbourne, Australia. She has taught interactive storytelling at RMIT and Swinburne Universities and in 2016 published her first book, “Game Changers: From Minecraft to Misogyny, the fight for the future of videogames” with Dr Dan Golding for Affirm Press.

Leena has worked in a freelance capacity on many games, including her role as Senior Copywriter on Cannes Gold Lion Award winning “Run That Town” for the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and was a narrative consultant on the “Twists & Turns” app for the 2014 Melbourne Writers Festival, featuring choose-your-own-adventure stories geotagged to the laneways of Melbourne. In 2013 Leena co-founded WiDGET, a grassroots feminist organisation supporting women and non-binary game developers. WiDGET supports over 700 members, and is poised in 2017 to “level up” its fundraising and research efforts, and its organisational structure. In 2015, Leena received the inaugural “Pioneer Award” at the MCV Pacific Women in Games Awards for the woman who has “over time helped paved the way for women in gaming and helped build the Australian and New Zealand game industries”. She is grateful to continue this work with the help of the IGDA Foundation.

Llaura Ash McGee
llauraLlaura Ash McGee is a multi-award winning Irish artist, designer and video game maker. As ‘DREAMFEEL’ she makes strange, wonderful, intense games.  Perhaps best known for ‘CURTAIN’, the story of a destructive relationship between two queer women in a Glasgow punk band. In 2015 ‘CURTAIN’ won AMaze Berlin’s Grand Prize and the Writers Guild of Ireland’s first ever Best Game Script.

Llaura is currently working on ‘Infinite Notebook’, shortlisted for the New Media Writing Prize, and ‘If Found, Please Return’, which in 2016 won three awards and a commendation in the Irish Design Awards including their first ever Game Design award, the Emerging Talent award and the overall Grand Prix.

Llaura Ash has also been nominated for BAFTA Scotland’s New Talent in Games and twice been chosen as an IGDA Scholar. Her work, interactive art installations, like ‘Fluc’ and ‘Amari’, and her performances have been shown in dozens of places across Europe and America such as Somerset House, London; Babycastles, New York; Indiecade, Los Angeles; and UC Berkeley, California. She currently lectures in DIT while running her independent games studio in Dublin with talented folks such as Liadh Young. Lastly but not leastly, she thinks you’re cool.


Maria Mishurenko

NewAvatarMaria Mishurenko is a game developer and experience designer from Brooklyn, NY. In her work she explores new approaches to education in the fields of philosophy and psychology using augmented, virtual, mixed reality and natural user interfaces. In her artistic practice she researches issues of identity, collective consciousness and personal responsibility. Maria holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and has a background in media production and documentary filmmaking. Website:




Rebecca Cohen-Palacios
rcohen-palacios_webRebecca Cohen-Palacios is the co-founder and director of Pixelles (Montreal), a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering more women-in-games through free programs, mentorship, and community love + support. She speaks often about diversity, community organizing, and empowerment through game-making.

She also loves to teach accessible workshops, mentor others, and collaborate with other organizations to help make STEM a more welcoming place. Annually, Rebecca co-organizes the games unconference, Game Loop Montreal, which facilitates open discourse about game development, culture, and methodologies.

Professionally, Rebecca is a hybrid UI artist/developer currently working on an unannounced title at Ubisoft Montreal. She’s shipped Shape Up (for Kinect) and Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. Before getting into game development, Rebecca spent six years designing user interfaces for apps, websites, and digital experiences.