An interview with 2013 SOE G.I.R.L. Scholarship winner Esther Wu

PlanetSide 2
Sony Online Entertainment's G.I.R.L. (short for Gamers in Real Life) scholarship was developed to encourage women to pursue careers in game development and design. The winners are selected via an annual competition and receive a $10,000 scholarship in addition to a valuable in-studio internship working on one of SOE's many games. The submissions, which this year consisted of art design pieces and essays on the topic of women in gaming, are reviewed by a panel of judges from SOE.

This year's winner, Esther Wu, spent 10 weeks working with the PlanetSide 2 art team at SOE's San Diego headquarters. We sat down with her to learn more about the G.I.R.L. Scholarship, her internship, and where she hopes to go next.
PlanetSide 2
Massively: How did you personally discover that the scholarship existed? Can you explain a bit about the application process for our readers?

Esther Wu: I was looking for company internships, and I found SOE's competition back in 2012. I wasn't actually looking for scholarships, but this was like two birds with one stone. It's essentially an art test: You have to create assets for either EverQuest or PlanetSide 2 and hopefully emerge as a winner and get to work with Sony Online Entertainment for a fun experience.

What was the environment at SOE like for an intern?

I don't know what it was like for the other interns, but it was fun for me. I'm grateful at how well my fellow artists treated me. I know I was the young intern, but they made me feel like just another artist on the team. They were accepting, and they were always willing to help.

PlanetSide 2
What were your specific contributions to PlanetSide 2, and how do they incorporate your philosophy on design?

I contributed 2-D and 3-D concept design for future in-game assets to be modeled by the 3-D artists, hopefully coming soon. My job was to create new designs for PlanetSide 2, offering refreshing designs within the PlanetSide 2 aesthetics.

The G.I.R.L. Scholarship was established to encourage women to pursue careers in gaming. How do you feel about the current state of the industry for female developers?

I think as more women become real core gamers, we'll get more women in the industry. Currently, I think the industry is slowly but surely becoming more gender-diverse, but it is still somewhat conservative in overall structure. There were a handful of women on the PlanetSide 2 team, but there was still room for more. Still, when I was on the team, I wasn't seen as a "female worker" but rather just as another gamer on the team. The industry is definitely changing.

PlanetSide 2
What is the most valuable lesson learned from your time at SOE?

Be a team player and always be open to change!

What is your ideal career in the industry? Where are you headed next?

My goal is to become a senior concept artist. I would love to work on AAA games because I think those games are the coolest to work on and I imagine that I'd also have cool coworkers.

What is one game you wish you had the opportunity to work on?

There are so many games I wish I had the opportunity to work on! I can name a game for every year. But out of all of them, I would say the Metal Gear Solid series. It's a beautiful franchise immersed with a unique aesthetic that has always been an inspiration to my art. And I know I would be working with a fantastic group of artists and developers on the next installment of a series that was a heavy influence since my early childhood. But that having been said: Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Warframe, Destiny, Gears of War, Halo, Uncharted, Assassin's Creed, Killzone, Crysis, Last of Us... let's be honest, an opportunity to work on any of those games would have been fantastic too.

Thanks for your time!

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This article was originally published on Massively.