Interview: The Winning G.I.R.L.

Julia Brasil was recently chosen as the winner of Sony Online Entertainment's first Gamers In Real Life (G.I.R.L.) design scholarship contest. Nearly 100 applicants submitted game concepts and essays, and Julia's Everquest II level and essay submission won her a $10,000 scholarship to The Art Institute of California, and a paid internship at Sony Online Entertainment.

We got a chance to chat with the 20 year-old Brasil (who's never won a contest in her life) about her winning concept, what she thinks of a "G.I.R.L" contest, and what she'll be working on with SOE — full interview after the jump.

Brasil first learned of the contest during a late-night event at GDC, where she worked as a volunteer staffer. The event featured lots of women with jobs in the game industry, who recommended she enter. Getting a $10,000 scholarship and a guaranteed in with a publisher like SOE might be any gamer's dream. So how did Brasil feel when she found out she won? "At first, I passed through shock, and then I was in denial. And then, I was really happy, and now I'm just okay with it, I guess!"

When asked to guess why her EQ2 level won out, she guessed it was because she made it "a little bit crazy." The judges, she said, told her they found her work funny and original.

"It involved finding a particular sheep among a lot of other sheep," she said. "It was a little bit adventure game and a little bit of the usual MMO grinding and things."

Female development professionals are under-represented in game industry demographics, so it's fair to consider that a girl-focused contest might be necessary to promote more interest from women in the game industry. But at the same time, there are plenty of male students who'd love to be internship contenders as well — we asked Brasil how she felt about this.

"The thing about the contest is, it's called G.I.R.L, but there was nothing saying guys couldn't apply," Brasil said. "It was geared toward any group that is a minority in game development. I guess the girl thing led people astray to think that, because you are a guy, you couldn't possibly win."

So what are her career dreams? "I want to work in the game industry, like anyone in my class," she said, referring to the game art and development program she attends, where she learns a some art and design, and some coding, too. "But what I want to do specifically once I get in the industry, I'm still not sure about! I still like drawing, and doing concept art and being an artist, but I also like doing level design and scripting."

Brasil hopes her time with SOE will help her experiment with a variety of different industry facets to see what she takes to. Specifically, she'll be interning with the team that's developing The Agency — "I'm looking forward to that," she said.