Each year the AIAS Foundation gathers a group of scholars to represent its three scholarships: Randy Pausch, Mark Beaumont and WomenIn. As part of their scholarship the AIAS Foundation provided an all-expense paid trip to this year’s 2019 D.I.C.E. Summit and 22nd Annual D.I.C.E. Awards Show. The 2018/2019 AIAS Foundation student scholars came from a number of top-level video game design programs like Carnegie Mellon University, Duke Law School, New York University, Southern Methodist University, among others. Several early professional scholars included scholars who currently work at Activision Publishing and Google.
Scholars had a chance to flex their learnings throughout the week with specially scheduled breakfast and lunch Q&As with industry leaders, evening networking events, roundtables and workshops. Additional highlights included attending the speaking line-up in person and an opportunity to attend the 22nd Annual D.I.C.E. Awards, the premier peer-based industry Awards Show.
The AIAS Foundation scholar program designed several opportunities to give the scholars every opportunity to take advantage of this C-level conference by designing a half-day program to teach valuable networking skills and professional conduct, connecting scholars with mentors specific to their career interest, scheduling intimate breakfast and lunch Q&As with established industry professionals and also providing professional headshot services by the in-house event photographer.
Equipped with the basic skillsets and confidence to meet the senior executive attendees and with the help of the AIAS Foundation coordinators, the scholars were able to participate in the main D.I.C.E. event at the speaking sessions, roundtable sessions and workshops and evening networking activities where they could see first-hand what it was like to be an attendee at D.I.C.E. The week culminated with the 22ndAnnual D.I.C.E. Awards Show, where they got to cheer their favorite games of 2018 and also see their game maker heroes up close.
Randy Pausch Scholar Clayton D’Mello particularly enjoyed the roundtable sessions:
I have never witnessed anything like a round table session before. They were enlightening and stood out as a great networking event! It was fascinating to see how different people handle day to day challenges in the industry with their products, employees, and target audiences. It imbued me with allot of confidence on what to expect when I make it into the industry.
Mark Beaumont scholar Alex Hartung summarizes his D.I.C.E. experience:
Throughout the event, I felt empowered by my mentor, by the AIAS Foundation coordinators, and by the large supporting cast. The title of Scholar held more weight at the summit than I imagined, and due to that I was able to have deep conversations, hear life stories, and elicit advice. We were not treated like kids by anyone. Instead, we were given the support to realize the full potential of the week.
WomenIn scholar Ridima Ramesh shared her experience about the pre-conference half-day professional training:
The first day of professional development workshops was very helpful in orienting us for the days to come. I often found myself unable to anticipate the situations in a networking event and not knowing what questions to even ask, so it was very helpful that our coordinators always had a number of planned questions to move the discussion forward.
WomenIn scholar Rachel Moeller opened up about her experience with her mentor:
My favorite part of D.I.C.E. was meeting my mentor. We spent several hours talking about design, development, production, and the industry. We spoke about daily creative struggles and communication. The one on one time was invaluable to me, as we directly discussed what it really meant to be a game designer… His compassion and encouragement have left a lasting impact on me.
WomenIn scholar Emperatriz Ung discussed the industry Q&As:
Some of my favorite conversations at D.I.C.E. took place during the breakfast and lunch Industry Q&As. While the Industry Q&As were specifically for the AIAS Scholars, they were really meaningful. It was incredible that folks took the time to sit with us and answer our questions with a candidness I did not expect. Their sincerity has motivated me to continue to speak openly about matters regarding representation in the game development industry and game studies field.
The AIAS Foundation would like to thank its AIAS Foundation Board, scholar mentors and program coordinators for providing such a memorable and impactful experience to these future game makers!