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Sony girl game winner doesn't want shallow characters

Julia Brasil, a game art and design student at the Art Institute of California-San Francisco, wins Sony Online Entertainment's first Gamers in Real Life, or G.I.R.L. competition.

Julia Brasil, a game art and design student at The Art Institute of California-San Francisco, is generally unimpressed with the lack of women in the gaming industry and female game characters who lack depth. Brasil hopes to do her part change that as the first-ever winner of Sony Online Entertainment's SOE Gamers in Real Life, or G.I.R.L., competition.

Brasil's winning concept art
Brasil's concept art for SOE's Everquest II. Sony Online Entertainment\Julia Brasil

Earlier this month, Brasil, 20, beat out nearly 100 competitors to win a video gamer's dream package. Not only did she get a $10,000 scholarship toward her education, but she also landed a 10-week internship at the Sony Online Entertainment studio of her choice in Denver, San Diego, Seattle, or Austin, Texas.

The Brazilian-born student hopes her internship will help her narrow her career choices and bring to Sony the knowledge of a young, international woman gamer.

"Right now, according to, I think it was (International Game Developers Association), only 20 percent of everyone working in the game industry are women," Brasil said. "Which is a lot better than previous years, but they still have a long way to go." The numbers may be even smaller, with some citing them at just under 12 percent.

That statistic was the main drive behind the contest, which was created by Torrie Dorrell, senior vice president of global sales and marketing for SOE, and her colleagues. SOE said in a statement that while many women play games, it wants women to create games as well.

In April, Sony invited students at Art Institutes around the country to apply for the inaugural G.I.R.L. competition. Contestants were asked to submit an in-game design, concept art, and two essays.

Brasil's design was a humorous and "somewhat crazy" take on a "low-level newbie zone" for SOE's EverQuest II. Brasil said some of her favorite game genres include role-playing games and survivor horror titles, and she named Shadow of the Colossus and Fatal Frame II as two of her top titles.

Julia Brasil with her check
Julia Brasil won Sony's first G.I.R.L. competition. Here she poses with her check. Sony Online Entertainment

Although she's loved playing games since she was a child, Brasil said she's found few female characters who are easy to connect with.

"There quite a few games nowadays that have a female protagonist, like Tomb Raider's Lara Croft or Heavenly Sword recently. But they just seem like eye candy to me," she said. "They just don't seem very feminine or that attractive to other women. You play them and they are pretty and smart but they don't seem to have a lot of depth to them."

Her winning essay touched on her belief that many games are masculine, with women, like Princess Peach of the Mario franchise, serving as motivators.

"If we're going to start to have more women playing games," Brasil said, "we should do games that involve women in something other than a motivator or a sidekick character."

AUDIO

Contest winner on girls and gaming
CNET News intern Holly Jackson talks to Julia Brasil, winner of Sony Online Entertainment's first Gamers in Real Life, or G.I.R.L., competition.
Download mp3 (1.78MB)