This article is sponsored by Swinburne University of Technology.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, careers in gambling (if you wanted to stay in Australia) were scarce. Over the past decade, however, things have started to change and the opportunities are growing.
Ask Felix Strangio, a Swinburne University of Technology alumnus who has been working in the game design industry for six years now. He is currently working in Melbourne at game development studio, League of Geeks. We asked him a few questions about what the industry is in Australia, how it has changed and what that means for the future.
How is the Australian video game design industry doing today compared to ten years ago?
To put it succinctly, the past decade for the Australian games industry has been a rocky road. The fallout from the GFC has resulted in massive studio closings, layoffs and loss of talent, with industry workers moving to adjacent industries or overseas.
Despite this, however, the Australian industry has gained strength and stability only to rise from its ashes, so to speak. There are too many factors here to list them all, but the most notable include:
Looking ahead, the recently announced federal government Tax compensation for digital games will be a boon to the Australian industry. This will mean more jobs in the sector and even more creative and technical innovations from Australia.
What impact have professional gaming and esports had on the industry in Australia?
While professional gaming garners an ever-growing audience and huge global communities, the vast majority of games played in these professional leagues are not made in Australia.
That said, the increase in professional gaming communities and places (for example, Fortress and GGEzy here in Melbourne) provide an opportunity for Australian game developers to engage with these fans more intimately and closer to home. For fans, that could mean personalized access to local games. For developers, that could mean reaching a huge new audience.
Has the popularity of games and esports changed the way people experience the industry?
Unfortunately, there has always been a chasm of misunderstanding between game consumers and game developers. I think much of our business is still largely shrouded in mystery and misconceptions.
However, I think the “curtain” is starting to pull back more and more, with growing interest in game production among fans. There are some great resources (like Noclip documentaries or GDC talks on Youtube) that allow fans to see what’s going on in the making of the products they love.
Do you think gambling has a bigger role in education now?
I believe that interactive materials, whether they are full-fledged ‘games’ or tailor-made educational experiences, are playing an increasingly important role in education.
Interactive materials enable active and embodied learning which has proven to be a powerful educational tool. In an interactive context, students and materials engage in dialogue with each other, rather than the traditional linear relationship via textbooks and lectures, etc.
Obviously, interactive experiences won’t entirely replace traditional teaching methods any time soon, but they offer a powerful complement.
Would you like video games to be used as an educational tool?
One aspect of games as an interactive medium that is particularly close to my heart is their ability to be empathy machines. Games can transport and immerse players in realities outside of their daily experience like no other medium. They offer moving and intense experiences that intimately engage the player in their subject.
For example, take This war of mine or Papers please which are each classic âSerious Gamesâ. These titles use their fictional worlds to reflect real world issues. You don’t passively observe these experiences, they happen To and by you as a player.
I think these are great examples of showing the potential of games as a tool to immerse students in real world subjects.
Do you have any advice for people looking to get into the game design industry in Australia?
Look for news sources that provide behind-the-curtain insight into game production. As I said before, there is a lack of awareness of what goes into making a game, which can lead to a mismatch between student expectations and the realities of the industry.
Another thing I would encourage is to try different jobs. There are a range of roles in game development studios suitable for all kinds of people, many of whom are not apparent from the outside.
Another proven tip is to create a portfolio. In creative technology, you have to be able to succinctly prove your skills to potential employers and a well-suited portfolio is the best way to do it.
Finally, it’s important to be aware of the attitude and collaborative skills you bring to the table. Games are creative technologies, so they require effective and creative collaboration. The best way to hone your collaborative skills is to work on team projects, whether they’re college projects, side projects, or Game Jams. The more creative team projects you have under your belt, the stronger this skill set will be.
Want to learn more about careers in game design? Apply to Swinburne University of Technology and learn the skills you need to land the job of your dreams.