For this first time in its history, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) Foundation, in partnership with Gay Gaming Professionals (GGP), has awarded scholarships to three college students in recognition of their service to the LGBTQ+ community. They were granted in tandem with the ESA Foundation’s 2019–2020 ESA Foundation Computer and Video Game Arts Scholarships, which, since 2007, have recognized exceptional women and minority students focused on entering the industry.
“We’re proud to team up with GGP and expand our commitment to create a more diverse and socially engaged workforce,” says Anastasia Staten, executive director of the ESA Foundation.
“This is a joyful discovery of how amazing these young people are, the contributions they are making outside of their academic work, to make their world better,” Gordon Bellamy, president and CEO of GGP, adds.
Bellamy is a legend in the video game industry. Over a roughly 20-year career, he’s distinguished himself as a game designer, industry executive and leader, a professor at the University of Southern California and an LGBTQ+ advocate. “But there was a time we couldn’t talk openly about those issues,” he says.
GGP, originally formed in secret, helped get the ball rolling, and now, Bellamy says, “we’re working directly with big companies. Our Facebook group has 1,900 members and we’re giving out scholarships. We are truly serving and showing we are of value.”
Here are the winners of this inaugural 2019–2020 scholarship, describing the services they performed for their LGBTQ+ communities:
According to Bellamy, having GGP partner with the ESA Foundation was a no-brainer.
‘When you introduce something new like this scholarship, you want to work with a trusted, top-tier partner,” he explains. “The Foundation was already helping students who need access to the industry, financially and otherwise. It truly lifts those students up.
“So it was a very organic discussion to shine the light on these particular students, who are serving the queer community. We also asked a new question of these scholars: ‘How are you giving back? How are you doing more than for yourself?’
“It’s great this day has finally arrived. But we’re just getting started.”