As Director of HR Operations, Stephanie Karr has her finger on the pulse of what brings talent to the gaming industry – and the roadblocks that can keep people from realizing their opportunities. When ProbablyMonsters wanted to help make the gaming industry more representative of gamers, Stephanie leapt at the chance to create one of the industry’s first scholarship programs with DigiPen Institute of Technology, the first college in the world to offer degrees in video game development. Read on to learn more about the ProbablyMonsters Foundation and Hardship scholarship programs that are helping aspiring developers realize their dream of joining the game industry to make great games!
ProbablyMonsters Blog: How did your giving journey begin?
From a young age, my family instilled in me the importance of helping others. This translated to nonprofit volunteering and giving as an adult, and technology has provided so many ways to make giving easy – and fun. One of the things that’s given me strength during the pandemic is the giving circle I’m a part of in West Seattle. While I miss the opportunity to see folks face to face, we have pivoted to a virtual format to ensure we can still make a difference in our communities, and each quarter at least $18,000 has been donated to a local nominated charity. One of the things that attracted me to ProbablyMonsters as an employee was this shared belief that everyone deserves the opportunity to elevate their potential. I knew giving was an area I wanted to get involved to help remove some of the roadblocks that stand between people and opportunities.
ProbablyMonsters Blog: Tell us how the ProbablyMonsters scholarships got started – how and why did this program come about?
The goal we started with was to change the video game industry. One of the ways we are doing that is by ensuring the ProbablyMonsters family of studios operate more sustainably than the traditional model – but that will only get us part of the way there. We also know that today, the people making games are not necessarily representative of the people playing them. So, we pulled that thread a bit to see what we could do to encourage and empower more people to consider gaming as a career. From there a scholarship seemed like an obvious choice. The next step was to identify a partner to bring the program to life.
ProbablyMonsters Blog: Why did you choose DigiPen as a partner?
We wanted something in our region, where there were degree programs dedicated to gaming. Having a local partner meant that post-COVID we might be able to develop some in-person opportunities. DigiPen quickly rose to the top of the list. They have programs from game design to development and offer nine degree programs with a gaming focus. We also have quite a few DigiPen alumni and fans among our employee base, and we knew it would be a great match. We already have employees who have actively worked with them over time.
ProbablyMonsters Blog: Can you tell us how the scholarship program works?
We’ve broken our funding into two buckets: Foundation Scholarships and Emergency Grants. The Foundation Scholarships are selected by application annually, and award a full school year of tuition. We’re currently offering four per year, and they’re full-year tuition scholarships that enable students to focus on their studies without having to worry about paying for school costs.
The Emergency Grants or hardship scholarships are a second set of funds that are need based for emergencies that may prevent someone from staying in school. We are just beginning the first semester where scholarships have been awarded so we are keeping a close eye on things to see what improvements we can make to grow the program.
ProbablyMonsters Blog: Why is there a need for this program, and others like it, in the games industry?
As we figure out ways to get the people making video games to better represent the players, we know we need to expose more people to gaming as a career choice. Helping to lessen the financial burden is one small step we can take on that journey.
ProbablyMonsters Blog: Where can we go to find out more about this scholarship program?
More info, including how to apply, is available at the DigiPen Scholarship page. Applications are housed in Scholarship Universe, which is available to current DigiPen students. We are super excited to start this partnership and grateful to DigiPen for partnering with us to get it up and running!
We’re grateful to Stephanie for her effort in creating this scholarship program. The philanthropic drive of employees like her is what makes MONSTERS UNITE a growing force to improve our industry. We will be following this program and others to come as we continue to look at ways to elevate the potential of others. Until then, we send our best wishes for your own giving journeys!