Games Austria GDC Scholarship 2016

ga-amb-at-gdc Games Austria GDC Scholars

About the Games Austria GDC Scholarship Program:
The Game Developers Conference has generously sponsored 10 All Access Passes for GDC 2016 in San Francisco to the Games Austria GDC Scholarship Program. A committee helped pick the recipients from all over Central Europe. The selected scholars will be attending GDC 2016 from March 14 to 18, 2016.

More info about the Games Austria GDC Scholarship Program is available here.

The scholars for GDC 2016 are listed below:



Ruth Bosch

Freelance Artist
Ruth is a curious person who works on art, music and game design. After receiving her bachelor's degree in games development at h_da Darmstadt, she moved to Berlin and dived right into the Berlin games scene. With a year of volunteering, game jamming and speaking at events, making friends and working in the industry, she is now ready for a new and exciting chapter in her life. Her goal is to work with all kinds of developers, travel the world and work on emotional and feminist games that inspire and bring love and happiness into people's lives.
What a ride!

Up until now I had been a happy CA at GDCE for many times already. Visiting the states, however, meant to leave Europe for the first time ever.

Everything seemed surreal at first. Especially the first few days felt like I was walking across a giant movie set, with cardboard houses lining the streets, plastic palm trees planted at the roadsides and ATMs spilling fake board game money into my hands.

Fortunately, with every day things became more real, and I got accustomed to the very friendly and open-minded culture and customs that were pulsing through the city. I felt welcomed both in San Francisco and within the scholarship group, which I appreciated from the very first minute on.

We scholars clicked pretty quickly. We were all very excited and motivated to put all of our energy and effort into making the best of this unique opportunity.

GDC turned out to be an inspiring amalgamation of informative talks, fun get-togethers, great lunch meetings in the sun-flooded parks of San Francisco and colourful networking parties during the night. Within the course of the week I found myself spending more and more time with developers I had met for the first time while also making friends with the people I had been looking up to for years. It was incredible to watch the hostel lounge transform into an almost family-like living room where people shared delicacies from their home countries, exchanged stickers and played games together. Because of how overwhelming the crowds and how exhausting the parties turned out to be at times, I tried my best to stay as healthy and energised as possible, even if it meant skipping a few parties and drinking weird smoothies. This decision worked very well for me, as I was more interested in strengthening my bonds with my new-found friends instead of going for intense party-hopping anyway.

This year's GDC eventually peaked in a fantastic (and somewhat unexpected) job offer for me, and I can't be happier about having applied for Games Austria's scholarship in the first place. This trip has definitely changed my life for the better and has given me memories that I will treasure forever.

To UBM and Games Austria, thank you very much!

Verena Demel

UAS Salzburg
Student & Art Director of the game "Evergreen"
From 2008-2010 Verena studied cross-media design at the Pop Academy in Munich and later worked as a media designer in Salzburg. In 2011 she started to study MultiMediaArt at the University of Applied Sciences Salzburg where she has led two game projects - YoKaisho and project Evergreen (which is still in development) - as an art director. YoKaisho has won the "best game“ award at the Austrian Computer Graphics Award 2015 and was nominated for "best game design" at the animago AWARD 2014. She will finish her Master's of arts in spring 2017 after which she plans to found an indie game studio in Austria.
When I flew to San Francisco it was my first time being in the states. Everything was new and exciting, but the moment I entered the Game Developers Conference I felt like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. 'Cause GDC is more than just a conference. It is a manifestation of creativity. At first I was anxious, overwhelmed by the sheer amount of talented people strolling through the hallways. But once I approached them, they opened their great minds for me to read, shared their experiences and knowledge.

Not only was I able to find great new contacts, I also made friends, who I want to meet again in the future. I got great critiques on my current project, which motivated me and showed me possible solutions to problems which I tried to work out by myself for a while.

Thanks to Meggan Scavio, the general manager of GDC, Mariebeth Aquino, our guardian, the CA's and all the wonderful people who make GDC possible I was able to grow and got inspired to aim even higher. And - I can't wait to visit this magnificent wonderland again.

Nina Perovič

Team Kreis
Communication and Marketing Manager
Nina is 24 years old and lives in Ljubljana with her boyfriend and their dog. She studied communication at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ljubljana and specialised in marketing and public relations. Her work experiences vary from being a journalist for the biggest Slovenian media house, being an assistant in advertising agencies and Slovenian advertising chamber to working in a PR and corporate communications departments in the biggest Slovenian insurance company and a retail corporation. Since she has finished her studies (apart from finishing her thesis) she dedicates her time to an indie game developer group and tries to learn through the process as much as she can. In her spare time she likes to write and create paintings/drawings for her blog that she created out of curiosity at the beginning of 2015. Her passion for travel had to be put on hold due to faculty work and lack of time.
GDC truly exceeded all my wildest expectations. But lets start at the very beginning. When I heard that I got the scholarship and therefore the opportunity to attend this years' GDC (and my first GDC ever), I immediatelly started making plans. Who do I want to meet, how can I find a mentor in my field, how can I attend the best talks and not miss out on the Expo and Pitches, how will I present myself, … All this was excellent in theory but I thought I won't be able to achieve any of these goals since I am a noob in this industry and am not exactly the most chatty and extrovert person in the universe. But GDC surprised me good. I met a lot of new people (and I can't express how grateful I am for all this new contacts), talked to some of my aspiring role models in the industry and learned more about game development than I thought was possible to learn. My highlight was acctually a talk/Q&A with the Unity community managers. Just after a minute or so of listening to their talk I knew that I found my dream job. It was one of those moments - "When I grow up I wanna be …".

I would like to thank again everybody at Games Austria and GDC for this scholarship. I tried my best to learn and connect on the conference and I hope to see GDC again next year. And hopefully in the future also as a speaker.

Veronyka Jelinek

Czech Republic
Animation director / designer
Veronyka is working in the animation industry since 2012. She's been part of short film projects, feature films or commercials in Europe, mostly in the Netherlands, Denmark, France and Czech republic. She is interested in innovative approaches in animation projects and interactive animation. She works independently or in collaboration with like minded animators or game designers. After graduating with MA in Animation at UTB in Zlin, Czech republic she has learned more about project development and pitching at La Poudriere in France and joined the ASF - Animation Sans Frontiers programme where she has pitched her project in development 'Blueprint of Mutual Confusion' short film + interactive animation game.
Going to GDC was a great opportunity to network and get up to date with the gaming industry. I had a chance to meet many great people at the conference and also in the more relaxed atmosphere of the parties or lunches in the park. I had made many new connections and refreshed the older ones especially within the European independent game community and I'm looking forward to start few collaboration projects in interactive animation and possibly also VR.

During the conference I was happy to attend the Woman in Games meeting filled by very inspiring talks, the restrospective of the games industry, the independent games awards and the mobile games awards. I had finished my first GDC at the showcase of behind the scenes in Experimental games. I found time to play many independent and innovative games or the alternative controls games and it was a pleasure to talk to the creators and game designers, not only about their games but also about their working process, their favorite game jams, or their intentions for upcoming projects. I hope to come back to GDC many times again in the future and I'd like to thank to everybody who made this experience possible.

Joanna Mleczak

Mana Translation
CEO / Co-Founder
Joanna runs an English-Polish game localization team called Mana Translation. In her spare time she designs games focused on storytelling and emotions, this also covers her academic interests regarding emotional bounds between players and games.
GDC is the place to go if you are or want to be a part of a game industry! Lots of great, loving and supporting people, specialists in every possible game-related matters, amazing atmosphere, games, games, games... and so many things to do!

My main goals were to meet and talk with people who are into games, developing them or providing game related services, like localization, and also to learn as much as possible about game design. Results? I got even more than that! I learned so much about the industry, participated in very interesting workshops, I met so many amazing people passionate about games, I got an unbelievably huge dose of motivation and inspiration that will keep me running for a long time.

I'm really thankful I had this outstanding opportunity to be at GDC 2016! Before I went there people were telling me how much of an addictive experience it is and now I can confirm that – GDC, see you next year!

Stefan Bock

Game Gestalt
Game Designer/-Developer
Stefan is a Game Designer/-Developer originally from Upper Austria, now living in Vienna. Originally studying Mathematics (first in Salzburg, then Vienna) he finally moved on to do the thing he always wanted, working on games. He is part-time employed at Game Gestalt, a company specialized in Game Design, currently developing various Serious Games. In his free time he works on his own private projects.
Going to GDC was on my mind for quite some time already and actually being able to go there was wonderful. Especially at first it was an overwhelming experience getting a glimpse on how huge this industry is. So many people and so much stuff to do! And everyone is friendly and welcoming. My biggest problem was that there was so much to do, so many interesting things going on, that I didn't have enough time to do it all. During the day there were the talks, all kind of expos and various special events. And the opportunity to meet and talk to all the great and interesting people everywhere and enjoying the time with fellow gamedevs in the park. And in the late afternoon and night there are all the social events, the meetups, parties, etc.

My main objective was to find great, friendly, interesting and inspiring people, and that I did. I even got an unexpected job offer and great excitement for my private project (that I didn't even promote because of its early state of development).

To sum it up it was a great (and exhausting) week and thanks so much to Games Austria and the whole GDC team for that opportunity!

Kristýna Valíková

Czech Republic
Game Studies
Junior PR
Kristýna is a writer and activist pursuing a college degree. She is a member of Game Studies and Queer Platform at Masaryk University, where she manages social media and other activities . Currently she is working on a festival hosted by Game Studies - Gamer Pie. She aspires to write for the video game industry, either as a writer or as a journalist.
After the Game Developers Conference, I feel like a new person. I have never thought of myself as communicative and talkative, but I was able to talk to anybody about anything. I am not sure if it was just because of the GDC atmosphere, but I feel that receiving the scholarship gave me the confidence in my abilities that I needed to push me forward. I can even say GDC changed my life even before I got there. It made me think about my future more, and a lot of things got clearer. For the first time, a career in Games seemed a real possibility.

During the whole conference I felt like Cinderella – because I was a newcomer to the world of videogames, and I got to meet so many legends, and like Alice in Wonderland – because of not knowing which new thing I should focus on.

One of the most valuable things that GDC gave me are the friendships I made. Real connections are rare, but somehow at GDC, I felt really lucky. I even found two mentors who will help to guide me through this newly discovered path.

It is hard to return to my ordinary life, but now I have the drive to move forward. I feel like GDC is the memory I can return to when things get hard, to stay motivated and on track of my goals. I have confirmed that I really want to be part of this industry. I cannot imagine doing anything else now. Even though it has its faults manifesting themselves in the form of sexism, I must say it was really sad to hear some of the things which were said to my fellow scholars. However, that is the reason I want to work on fixing this – I want to contribute to the change.

From my journey to SF from Prague to my airport transportation back, I was surrounded by amazing people from the industry, who were incredibly nice to share their experience with me. I feel like GDC did not actually end, because the connections I made didn’t end there. I am very grateful to GDC, the Games Austria scholarship committee and Česká centra for making this possible.

Celmuun Dawcharbajar

Red Moon Rising Records and ScryVR
Founder, Curator
Celmuun is a Master in International Development with experience in the fields of development, film and music from Mongolia, currently living between Europe and the US in pursuit of achieving her vision. A cultural creative, consciousness explorer, futurist and taoist martial artist, she is exploring the evolving ways to orchestrate remote ideas/ideals, professionals/artists and industries to alchemize and curate narrative multi-media content for the multi-dimensional canvas that is Virtual Reality.
It has been about two weeks since I have returned from GDC and I am literally still buzzing. When I was first contacted by Mariebeth Aquino that I had been selected as one of the scholarship recipients for this year's GDC, I put everything in motion to be able to attend. I had an extremely strong feeling that this was going to be an important, if not epic journey - but little did I know how significant it may turn out to be.

As you may already foreshadow, GDC 2016 was my very first and as an industry noob I alternated from sinking and swimming on the first few days, but what ever I was doing I ALWAYS did it with a constant state of AWE. Despite fighting travel exhaustion and jet lag (I would recommend to arrive a few days earlier to off-set that and enjoy San Francisco - possibly with flowers in your hair) I was determined to make the most of my time during the convention - especially since the first two days were dedicated to VR, my ultimate choice of experience.

Subsequently, I could not imagine a better crash-course into this industry. I got to attend workshops and talks, experience all the boundary-pushing projects already implemented (Birdly, Thunderbird, the Walk, Paranormal Activity, Everest and the Little Prince), and also participated at private events such as the Women's Luncheon hosted by Microsoft, where I got inspired to tears by the icon and role model Kate Edwards. Consciously guided by my inner compass I managed rub shoulders with extremely open-minded, supportive and inspiring professionals and like-minds in the field - some of whom may turn out to be future mentors, partners or colleagues.

Not only was the convention organized and prepared with precision, competence and heartwarming mindfulness, the overall atmosphere properly balancing professionalism, fun and supportiveness, but also did I realize with utmost delight that everyone I had a chance to meet was still children at heart. They had maintained their sense of awe, passion and imagination - despite the fact that they were highly professional developers, respected artists, master-minded futurists and hard-working managers, presidents and CEO's of companies worth millions.

This kind of atmosphere is not only addictive - it's contagious! After 5 days of spirited madness - shaking hands and melting minds, I felt part of this hyperdimensional community of makers - and confirmed that this (VR) industry was right for me! I can build on this.

Unspeakable amounts of gratitude to the Games Austria Team, Mariebeth Aquino and the whole GDC Crew for this unforgettable experience! And a special shout out to the CA's who have worked tirelessly to accommodate such an unforgettable experience for all of us!

Vanessa Bosch

Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design
Media Art Student
Vanny is a media art student from Germany. She is a video game lover since childhood, hence her favorite part of studies is the GameLab at her University in Karlsruhe. There she found her passion in managing Game Projects and expressing her inspirations and creativity in the art work of games.
This is my report on my first GDC in San Francisco in March 2016. I had been accepted for a volunteer scholarship by Games Austria. Together with nine other scholars and Mariebeth Aquino I spent one week in San Francisco attending the GDC.

My main goals were learning more about the games industry and making connections, but also finding myself a mentor. In the end, everything didn’t turn out as expected, but the experience I had was extremely valuable for me.

The GDC was overwhelming. Not only there were so many talks and workshops I wanted to attend at the same time, but also the amount of attendees was daunting and I felt a little lost most of the time. I guess I had just underestimated this whole event and I hadn’t expected it to influence me that much.

During the second day, I felt that I got a little used to those massive inputs and I learned to get an overview of what is important to me and what I can manage to achieve in that short time of only one week. One week can be over so fast when you imagine that there are always at least three things going on at the same time where you want to be part of. I often caught myself wishing I could squeeze as many things as possible into my agenda, then try to prioritize what would be most effective for me. But that would not have worked at all for every day of the week. I would have been stressed out pretty soon, but most important, I wouldn’t have had any time for all those interesting new people I wanted to get to know, or all my friends I wished I could spent time with.

So I realized I had to make this week a real experience, something to look back to and say: "Hey, that was awesome!" instead of "Oh god, that was exhausting".

In the end, I figured, the GDC is all about getting in touch with people! Don’t worry, if you miss an interesting talk - with the All Access Pass we can watch them a few weeks later online anyway.

Finding a mentor, however, turned out to be more difficult. but I realized, that I might not even need one at the moment. Instead I got many job offers, which I had to decline regretfully, as I am still going to university. Of course, it was nice to see that students like me are very welcome in this industry. And it is really not that hard to connect with people at the GDC, because everybody is very interested in your work and wants to get to know you just as you want to get to know them.

The most important thing I’ve learned for me personally was the point where I realized that my position in the field of gaming does not necessarily have to be as an artist, but that I could also be a producer. I figured out that my skills would match this job really well. So now I have to rethink all my future plans, which is good because they have become a lot more realistic and clearer.

The GDC was one of the greatest experiences ever and I can only hope to be able to go there again. It has taken me a lot further from where I was standing and next time I will know even better where I my field of interest lies.

I want to thank Mariebeth Aquino, who supported me in every possible way and gave me strength and enthusiasm to apply for the scholarship. She also reminded me that everyone once started at some point somewhere, she took care of us and she introduced us to so many nice people. Mary showed us that it is also very important not to forget the fun part at GDC 😉
Further scholars are:

  • Zach Zebrowski, Hungary

Judging Committee

martin p

Martin Pichlmair

ITU Copenhagen
Assistant Professor

Tadej Gregorčič

Creative and Technical Director, Co-founder

Volná Kristina

Czech TV
Web Developer

Christopher Schmitz

Quantic Dream
Director of Production

Brandon Sheffield

Necrosoft Games
Games Director

Mariebeth Aquino

Games Austria