Canterbury-based Liz Valentine, who recently graduated from the University of Kent with a first class honours degree in Multimedia Technology and Design, has just been announced as one of three winners in the Europrix Multimedia Top Talent Thesis Award 2004.The Europrix Top Talent Award is now regarded as one of the most prestigious events for young and up-and-coming talent in the world of multimedia. The award was initiated by the Austrian presidency in 1998 and is supported by the European Commission DG Enterprise and Information Society, governments of other EU countries, and private industries such as Adobe Systems and Sony DACD. The Top Talent Thesis Award was introduced into this year’s competition for the first time. It honours those with the best scientific ideas and extraordinary research, and applies to students from universities, colleges, multimedia or technical schools across Europe.Liz Valentine’s research dissertation and entry was titled Manhandling Joysticks & Pushing Buttons – Gender and Computer Games. Completed during her final year studies at the University of Kent, the dissertation explores gender involvement with, and gender representation in videogames, focusing on the primary question: Are girls put off or discouraged from video gaming by gender representations and expectations?Commenting on her award Liz Valentine said, ‘I am extremely pleased to have gained recognition for my work, in a subject which I hold close to heart. It has encouraged me to go out into the world to make my impression in the male-dominated arena of computers, programming and gaming, and to ultimately encourage more females that they can do the same too.’Ania Bobrowicz, Lecturer in Multimedia Technology and Design at the University of Kent, said: ‘We are delighted with Liz’s achievement. This is a prestigious European Award which drew submissions from universities across Europe. Liz’s dissertation reported the results of her final year project. Her success demonstrates the high calibre of students who are attracted to our very successful multimedia technology and design course.’As an award winner Liz will receive a cash prize, extensive promotion throughout the European multimedia sector via the Europrix Top Talent Book of Innovation and DVD, and the right to use the name Top Talent Thesis Award Winner 2004. She will also be very much in the spotlight when she attends the Top Talent Festival 2004 in Vienna (19 – 21 November), where she will be presented with her award.Liz Valentine is now working as a software engineer and developer for one of the leading independent network management solutions providers in the UK.