Geek Speak: Larissa Baptista, game design student at Vancouver Film School
ForLarissa Baptista, the video-game industry is “where it’s at”. Good thing she’s in the right place. Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the 24-year-old is a game-design student at Vancouver Film School.
Last year, Baptista became the third person to win VFS’s Women in Games Scholarship. The award is providing the tuition for her one-year program, from which she’ll graduate in June. A Flash game she developed with two other students as a class project may be played on Kongregate. Fang Shui was a finalist in the Digital Media and Wireless Association of B.C.’s Best Student Interactive Property Competition.
This weekend (January 21 and 22), Baptista plans to attend the sixth annual Game Design Expo. VFS will launch its fourth annual Women in Games Scholarship, worth up to $49,250, at the event.
The Georgia Straight reached Baptista by phone at school.
Why are you pursuing a career in video-game development?
I always loved all art, like books and movies and games. But right now my view is that the game industry is where it’s at. Whatever is happening since the Wii came out and all the social-media gaming attracting so many new gamers, like so many moms and new types of players, it’s like the gaming industry is the new future of media.
How did you win the Women in Games Scholarship?
Well, I’ve been always in contact with VFS through the admissions office. One day, I received an email from admissions saying, “We have this scholarship. Would you be interested?” I’m like, “Oh, it’s game design. Of course, I’m interested.”
In Brazil, we really have few schools that are really dedicated to it, and the industry in Brazil itself is not that great for gaming. So, of course, I applied. I knew about it from admissions, and whole process involved me talking about why I would be honoured to receive the scholarship, what would I do with it, what would be my future plans, portfolio pieces, curriculum—all that kind of stuff—and a game plan.
Where do you see your career going after you graduate?
That’s a question that I, myself, have asked many times. But, in the short run, I see myself actually getting a visa to work in Canada for a year and hopefully in a gaming studio. But, in the long term, I hope to manage to stay working for a good gaming studio and then later on in life maybe open up my own studio or go back to Brazil and teach gaming, share the knowledge.
What kind of games are you interested in making?
I’m usually the RPG type. I used to be a very strong first-person mode player online when I was 10. I was kind of addicted to it, but my mom cut it off for me. But nowadays I’m more of an RPG style. I like adventure games, like Zelda and Dragon Age. But I also really admire Shadow of the Colossus. Team Ico is really a great studio.
What is your advice for anyone applying for the scholarship?
Cliché answer: just be honest and dedicate the most of yourself. If this is really what you want, don’t go just through words and spend a long time writing your essay. Take care of the layout. How you present stuff is really important since you are in the media and visual industry.
I would also comment that, since the scholarship, there has been a real increase in the number of girls attending the school. We have six girls in my class, and that is the most girls we’ve ever had in the school since the scholarship. Usually, classes go around with two girls, maybe one. So, we are seeing an increase. You know, making the class smell better.
Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? You can tell Stephen Hui on Facebook and Twitter.