Giving Thanks: The GDC Team and UBM

As 2016 draws to a close, it’s a perfect time to reflect on the work the Foundation has accomplished this year and the support that makes our efforts possible.  I want to thank the GDC team, who is instrumental in helping us improve the lives of game developers everywhere, and whose generous and ongoing support helps us bring the Foundation’s work to fruition.

Our flagship programs, IGDA Scholars, Women in Games Ambassadors, and Next Gen Leaders, all take place at GDC for one simple reason-there is no other game development conference that comes close to providing the breadth and depth of content attendees at GDC experience.  It’s rare to find an event that is equally valuable to students exploring career directions and 25-year industry veterans, and yet, every year GDC not only delivers that experience, but grows and improves their content and atmosphere.

GDC is also inspirational to the IGDA Foundation because of their work in supporting inclusivity in the games industry through their policies, practices, and speaker curation.  GDC’s Code of Conduct helps to ensure a space that welcomes participation from everyone, and we are grateful for their leadership in this endeavor.

Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the significant financial support of the GDC team and UBM.  Their generosity makes our biggest programs possible-and changes the lives of our program participants.  Thank you, Meggan Scavio and GDC team, for helping us improve the lives of game developers-we couldn’t do it without you!


-Jen (

Announcing the IGDA Foundation Next Gen Leaders Program

At the IGDA Foundation, our mission is to improve the lives of game developers through charitable and educational works, primarily by making game development a more inclusive, welcoming, and successful industry for our developers and players. As part of this goal, we support inclusivity through our flagship programs, IGDA Scholars and Women in Games Ambassadors, which provide unique experiences at game industry events for students and recent graduates. I’m proud to announce that we are partnering with Xbox to launch an innovative new program, IGDA Foundation Next Gen Leaders, that continues this initiative through supporting experienced game developers.

As the IGDA Foundation works to expand inclusivity in our industry, our IGDA Scholars and Women in Games Ambassadors programs have helped people who want to explore a career in game development; expanding the pool of potential developers is a key part of building a more inclusive industry and encouraging new perspectives and creativity. However, as an industry, we have a retention problem. According to the IGDA’s Developer Satisfaction and Diversity surveys, the industry frequently loses talent after ~5 years of experience. While there are many reasons people may choose to leave an industry, and some of those departures are involuntary, we also know that under-represented minorities leave tech fields at a significantly higher rate. Increasing the diversity of the talent entering the industry has a profoundly lower impact when we do not retain that talent.

xbox-2014-stacked-rgb-pngThe IGDA Foundation is launching the Next Gen Leaders program in partnership with Xbox to address these retention issues. The program, which is open to developers with 3-10 years of experience and who identify as an under-represented minority, is designed to provide a range of knowledge, experience, and tools to keep the participants in the industry.

The Next Gen Leaders program includes a GDC pass (generously donated by GDC) and travel stipend, two days of workshops and special events specifically designed to help the participants stay in the games industry, an individual mentor, post-GDC discussions, and ongoing networking. We’ve built the program to create ongoing change, starting with our first participants in 2017, that supports making gaming and game development available to everyone.

The IGDA Foundation Next Gen Leaders program would not be possible without the generous support of Xbox. Its focus on Gaming for Everyone–making Xbox a place everyone has fun–provides an outstanding example of how inclusivity helps build stronger teams and better gaming experiences. Xbox’s financial, logistical, and volunteer support has been truly invaluable.

Applications for IGDA Foundation Next Gen Leaders 2017 are open now. Learn more and apply today.

–Jen MacLean, Managing Director, IGDA Foundation

GDC 2017 — Women in Games Ambassadors Program Applications Now Open


The IGDA Foundation’s Women in Games Ambassadors (WIGAm) program is now accepting applications for the 2017 Game Developers Conference (GDC). The program is open to women-identified students and recent graduates in fields pertaining to game development. Applications should be submitted by or before 30 December 2016.

Apply HERE!

The WIGAm program provides a comprehensive event scholarship experience to the best and brightest up-and-coming women-identified individuals in games. It includes all-access passes, travel stipends, a week of insider industry events, and lifetime access to a tight-knit community of high-achieving peers. In addition, the WIGAm program creates opportunities for each recipient to engage with top industry professionals through Q&As and group mentorship. Our ambassadors leave the conference better equipped to jump-start their careers and advocate on behalf of diversity in games.

GDC will take place 27-3 March 2017 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, USA. It is the world’s largest and longest-running professionals-only game industry event features over 400 lectures, panels, tutorials and round-table discussions on a comprehensive selection of game development topics taught by leading industry experts.

You can learn more about the program, its history and how to apply HERE.

GDC 2017 – IGDA Scholars Applications Now Open


The IGDA Foundation is delighted to announce that the 2017 IGDA Scholars Program is kicking off with applications for the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in 2017. The program is open to all students and recent graduates in fields related to game development. Applications should be submitted by 6 December 2016, please click here for further information and to apply.

GDC will take place 27-3 March 2017 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, USA. The world’s largest and longest-running professionals-only game industry event features over 400 lectures, panels, tutorials and round-table discussions on a comprehensive selection of game development topics taught by leading industry experts. Awarded to the best and brightest students in game development disciplines, the IGDA Scholars Program gives recipients an unforgettable experience including an all-access pass, industry mentorship, travel stipend, and local studio tours.

IGDA Scholars in the past few years have had incredible opportunities above and beyond the awarded event passes, including private Q&As with industry luminaries such as Ed Fries, Don Daglow, Reiko Ninomiya, Tim O’Leary, and more. They’ve also toured game studios such as Zynga and Double Fine. Students have made connections with their mentors and fellow Scholars that last well after the conferences.

You can learn more about the program, its history and find out how to apply at Please help us spread the word about this excellent opportunity for students from around the world by following and retweeting us on Twitter @IGDA_Scholars.

Proudly Supporting the Pixelles!

Our goal at the IGDA Foundation is to advance the careers and lives of game developers. We’re pleased to support organizations devoted to doing the same with our grants. Together as a community, we can help make our industry welcoming, innovative, and inclusive. One of the organizations we’re proud to support are the Pixelles!


Pixelles is a Montreal-based non-profit that organizes free workshops, socials, mentorship, and incubator programs for women. Pixelles has created a totally inclusive environment: their programs are open to all – anyone of any expertise, age, gender, and orientation is always welcome. Their innovative events foster a truly supportive community that is a veritable force of change for our industry and the Foundation is proud to support them.  

Part of our support included investing in a mobile “Community Tool Chest” complete with all the equipment needed to facilitate game jams, workshops, and arcades. This Chest provides the opportunity for anyone to participate in the Pixelles workshops and game incubators by removing a barrier to entry.

The Chest was used in the latest Pixelles Game Incubator – a 6-week program available to Montreal-based members as well as to follow-along internet participants. 16 games were created and they can all be played here.


In addition to workshops and incubators, the Pixelles have used the Community Tool Chest in several arcades. Some of these showcase events include Arcade 11a 3-day event featuring video game workshops and DIY arcades, and Game Curious – a free 6-week program designed to introduce experimental art games, games for education, and storytelling through games.

The Pixelles also organize community building events including summer potluck picnics. These important, inclusive spaces let people get together to enjoy the sun, discuss games, and form close bonds. We were especially delighted with their recent choice of iced tea in honour of our support!

Moving forward, we’re ecstatic to support the Pixelles as they continue to organize workshops and community events. We’re always excited to support organizations that, like the Pixelles, share the magic of game development and promote an inclusive industry. If this sounds like the sort of work you do, we invite you to review our grant application guidelines.

Support for IGDA Scotland’s Special Event

One of the core pillars of the IGDA Foundation is supporting Chapters and Special Interest Groups of the International Game Developers Association. We were delighted to recently provide funding for IGDA Scotland to host Adrienne Shaw, a respected academic in the field of representation in games – an area that we at the Foundation have a deep interest and investment in.
You can read more about this special event on IGDA Scotland’s website, or watch the video recording of the session below.

We’re always on the lookout for interesting opportunities to support, so please read our grant guidelines to see if your activities qualify!

Announcing the IGDA Foundation’s New Managing Director

From Luke Dicken, IGDA Foundation Chair:
FoundationHeadshot-150x150As an organisation, the IGDA Foundation has achieved some incredible things – and surpassed all my expectations when I first took over as Chair a little more than two years ago. We’ve grown and become much better at providing resources and support for people and groups throughout the games industry. We’ve been able to build our Scholarships programs to include the Women in Games Ambassadors, broaden our support for IGDA Chapters, SIGs and the community at large, as well as supporting initiatives around the globe from Australia to Europe to America. But there is always more to do.

Today I am excited and honored to introduce the next chapter of the IGDA Foundation, as we bring in our first member of staff to build on our successes and become better at providing more support throughout the industry. I couldn’t be prouder to announce that the IGDA Foundation Board of Trustees has appointed Jen MacLean as our Managing Director, effective immediately. Jen has almost 25 years of experience in the games industry, with 20 of those in a leadership capacity. She began her career in playtesting, and has risen to hold executive positions at multiple companies, giving her a breadth of familiarity with the games industry that few can claim. For the past year, Jen has also volunteered on the Foundation Board of Trustees in her spare time, so between her wealth of experience at strategic leadership and her detailed knowledge of the operation of the Foundation, she is a natural and clear choice to take on this exciting role. I think it’s safe to say that we are very lucky to have her take on this new challenge!

I described this as a new chapter for us, and that is the most apt way I can think to put it. So many things have been set aside “until we have staff support” or “until we can spare the bandwidth”. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved to date, but there is so much more we want to do, and so much more that we need to do to more adequately support the global game development community. Bringing in a Managing Director is the first step towards accomplishing these goals, and unlocking our potential to do even more good. I can’t think of anyone I would trust in this role more than Jen, and I’m so excited to work alongside her to realize our joint ambitions for the organisation and for the future support we’ll be able to offer the community.


From Jen MacLean, IGDA Foundation Managing Director:
As a loJen MacLean Headshot 1ngtime supporter of the IGDA and IGDA Foundation, I was honored last year when Luke Dicken asked me to join the Board of Trustees. Over the past fifteen months, I’ve had the opportunity to see first-hand the difference the Foundation makes through the generous support of our donors and volunteers, and also appreciate how much more we can do. Over the past year, we’ve impacted hundreds of game developers, and formed a strategy which makes increasing diversity in the industry-and consequently the overall success of our companies and careers-our top priority.

When the opportunity came to join the Foundation as its Managing Director, I was thrilled to be able to take a more active role in leading the work of the Foundation. With new consumer platforms like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality emerging, an explosion in serious gaming, changing monetization models, and increasing discoverability challenges, game development has never had more opportunity or challenges. The mission of the IGDA Foundation is to improve the lives of game developers through charitable, educational, and scientific work, and this purpose has never been more relevant.

The IGDA Foundation has a lofty goal and high purpose: make game development as a profession more diverse, more fulfilling, and more valued. In the upcoming weeks and months, you’ll be hearing more from me about the ways in which the IGDA Foundation supports these goals and works with our donors and volunteers to make a difference to game developers everywhere, from students making their first game to established industry luminaries. I’m honored to help lead the Foundation as we expand our impact and improve game development for everyone.


To learn more about the IGDA Foundation, our programs, and how we’re improving the profession of game development, please contact

2016 GDC Europe & Gamescom Scholars Announced!

Congratulations to our newest cohort of IGDA Scholars for GDC Europe and  Gamescom! These talented students will receive an extraordinary trip to Europe’s premier game development events in Cologne, Germany! Each student will receive an All-Access Pass, mentorship from an industry professional, and an unforgettable IGDA-organized itinerary.


ProfileImage_NidaAhmadNida Ahmad is a final year Psychology student at the University of Warwick in the UK. Currently working in a part time role at Exient’s Leamington studio, she is focused on creatively applying player and game psychology, UX and research to games design. She’s play tested for FreeStyle Games and is now in charge of publicity, events and careers for the games design society on campus, alongside developing an initiative to get students of minority groups involved too. She has interests in Human Computer Interaction and emerging technologies as well as mentoring young people, climbing and producing large events.


ProfileImage_SanteriArpoSanteri Arpo is starting his third year as a producer student at the Kajaani University of Applied Sciences located in northern Finland. He founded his first company at the age of 17 and during that time he became interested in the games industry. At the university, he is the CEO of a co-op run by students that develops and publishes games for various platforms such as mobile, PC and PlayStation 4. He is also leading a 10-member team that is developing a game for the PlayStation 4 which is targeted to be released on January 5th 2017.


ProfileImage_AthanasiaBiriAthanasia (Cissy) Biri is a master’s student at Birmingham City University’s MSc Video Game Enterprise and Production programme. Her previous background is in computer science with some training in animation and 3D art. She also worked in the QA side of the industry on titles such as Kinect Sports Rivals and Quantum Break. As part of her final assessment, she is a part-time intern at Exient’s Leamington Spa studio where she works closely with the studio director to align the company’s production philosophy and put in place some best practices for producers across projects to follow as required.


ProfileImage_ToveBrantbergTove Brantberg has a B.Sc in Game Design and is currently a MA student in Game Design and Production at Aalto University, Finland. She is well versed in all sides of game production and enjoys everything from coding to creating art, and has a fondness for teaching as well. She has worked on educational games and won an award for one, has taught kids how to make games themselves, and recently found herself working as a VR programmer. She loves games that bring people together and is always advocating for more co-op and more board games.


ProfileImage_KyrieCaldwellKyrie E. H. Caldwell earned her B.A. in Art History and Religious Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and will soon graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a master’s in Comparative Media Studies. Her master’s thesis analyzes how video game mechanics help construct game worlds, particularly through reinforcing problematic cultural assumptions and structures, such as gender roles. Kyrie has also published research on the parallels between religious practices and gameplay, gender and reflexivity in enjoying and studying games, and using video games in educational contexts. She currently works in the MIT Game Lab and The Education Arcade.


ProfileImage_WilliamGoddardWilliam Goddard is a game designer and researcher based in Melbourne, Australia, with a focus on co­located, mobile, and party games. He is interested in how these topics intersect, facilitating social play that extends beyond the game. He is currently a PhD student at RMIT University, where he is investigating this intersection through game design. As a distraction from day to day work, you will still find him collaborating on new ideas at game jams or fitting in far too many side projects.


ProfileImage_KristyKeatchKirsty Keatch is a Scottish game developer, creative programmer and sound designer based in Edinburgh. She’s interested in the role of mobile dynamic audio and the design of new mechanics for touch screen devices. She graduated with a First Class Honours in Music Technology BMus at Edinburgh University and is currently in her final semester of a Masters by research in Sound Design, developing a portfolio of games, that raided the toy box for inspiration, to present Katakata – a kinetic sound sculpture, Freq and Hedra – one touch games with a twist!


ProfileImage_FarahKhalafFarah Khalaf is a game developer from Auckland, New Zealand. Currently finishing off her Digital Design degree at Auckland University of Technology, Farah is strongly passionate about game art, community building, and event management. As part of the NZGDA board, Farah has been involved with various projects including organising indie game booths at cons, game developer meetups, and currently co-organising NZGDC16. She is also passionate about teaching, and has taught game design at an all-girls school, as well as multiple workshops at Auckland Libraries. In April 2016, Farah was listed as one of MCV’s 100 Most Influential Women in Games in the Pacific.

IGDA Foundation Recognizes Double Fine

IMG_9242One of the best parts of winning an IGDA Scholarship is the chance to tour some of the hottest studios in the industry. We’ve formed lots of strong partnerships with those studios—but for years now, Double Fine has stood out as a favorite for our GDC Scholars.

This year we were proud to present DoubleFine with a token of our gratitude for their years of partnership and hospitality. Double Fine Founder Tim Schafer was on hand to accept the award from Foundation Chair Luke Dicken, as well as to offer an unforgettable experience for our GDC Scholars.

We’re extremely grateful for Double Fine’s years of dedication to our scholars program, and we know dozens of scholars and alumni are too!

Thank you, Double Fine!

2016 IGDA Foundation Women in Games Ambassadors Announced

2016WIGThe 2016 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 GDC experience with All-Access passes, travel stipends, and a week full of exclusive insider events and opportunities.

Read more about these incredible women here.