Vancouver Film School launches $200,000 Indigenous Scholarship in Video Games fund
The four awards will cover tuition and provide ongoing mentorship to support Indigenous excellence.
EA, Microsoft Studios, Relic Entertainment – it’s no secret that Vancouver is a world-renowned hub for videogame companies. Over 170 local and international development studios produce top-flight games from the city, generating billions in annual revenue.
To make sure that all voices are represented and have equal access to the thriving sector, Vancouver Film School has launched a $200,000 scholarship program for Indigenous students looking to become developers.
Created in partnership with homegrown AAA giants Blackbird Interactive, East Side Games, and Timbre Games, the fund will award four scholarships: three for Vancouver Film School’s Game Design program, and one for 3D Animation and Visual Effects. Every scholarship covers full tuition, and is open to all applicants over 18 who identify as First Nations (status or non-status), Inuit, or Métis.
Blackbird Interactive and East Side Games will each select one winner, and Timbre Games will choose two. Together, the partnership hopes to foster more inclusion in the industry, with the aim of having a greater number of Indigenous developers actively designing the next generation of games.
"Communities thrive on diversity,” said Josh Nilson, co-founder, studio head, and general manager of East Side Games. “Whether we’re talking about games, entertainment, or film, we need to ensure we’re including voices and perspectives representative of the community around us. As a member of the Métis community, it is an honour to be able to support a program taking a step in the right direction towards a more inclusive creative landscape. While there's much work to be done, this is a good start."
The awards are worth more than money. Like every sector in tech, hands-on experience and a rolodex of connections are the best way to secure a job in the videogame industry. As part of their prize, all four winners will receive private mentorship by design professionals at each of the three studios, as well as their instructors at Vancouver Film School. Upon graduation, the recipients will also receive a paid four-to-six-month contract at their respective company.
Indigenous creators have increasingly taken centre stage in the Canadian art world, with many outstanding individuals being recognized by major awards as well as within communities: a movement dubbed the Indigenous renaissance. While many talented Indigenous artists already work within the gaming industry, Vancouver Film School says that it is committed to fostering and growing Indigenous representation in the sector.
“At VFS, we are proud of the many Indigenous graduates from our programs who now have successful careers both in Vancouver and globally,” said Christopher Mitchell, Vancouver Film School’s head of game design and programming for web and mobile. “This scholarship is Vancouver Film School’s privilege and opportunity to play a role in emerging Indigenous developers building their creative careers.”
Applications for the scholarships are now open, and close on June 8, 2022.
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