Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) announced yesterday that Esther Wu of Brooklyn, New York has been named the winner of the 2013 Gamers in Real Life (G.I.R.L.) Scholarship. Now in its sixth year, the scholarship program was established to encourage women to pursue careers in the video game industry in the areas of development and design.

Wu, a student at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia, was awarded a $10,000 scholarship to use for her college tuition and other educational expenses. In addition, she will spend 10 weeks on a paid internship at SOE’s headquarters in San Diego. Following graduation, Wu aspires to work as a concept artist on AAA video games.

“It’s exhilarating to be selected for this amazing opportunity to work alongside some of the industry’s best game artists at SOE in California,” said Wu. “I think this competition is important because it represents a stepping stone for artists and helps build awareness about gender in the work environment.”

As part of the competition, finalists were asked to submit two pieces of original concept art inspired by either PlanetSide 2 or EverQuest II, and an essay discussing their views on women in the gaming industry. The submission was reviewed by a panel of judges from Sony Online Entertainment. Wu’s winning art entry was inspired by the vehicles and characters in PlanetSide 2. Her goal with the piece was to transform the general design and add new perspective.

“As public conversation on gender issues evolves, SOE is committed to leading by example and providing talented women with relevant experience in the games industry,” said Laura Naviaux, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing, Sony Online Entertainment. “We urge more organizations to consider similar scholarship programs focused on encouraging these talented artists and designers – we need more women in this industry.”

“Esther’s entry exhibited both creativity and an impressive level of concept skills,” said Joe Shoopack, Director of Artist Development, Sony Online Entertainment. “Every year the entries continue to impress us more, showcasing the incredible talent of student artists and designers across the country.”

For the 2013 internship and scholarship, Sony Online Entertainment received applications from students at universities across the country. The G.I.R.L. submission phase closed on March 29, 2013. Scholarship America, SOE’s scholarship administrator, narrowed down the submissions to a pool of semi-finalists based on certain eligibility criteria.

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