Depart­ment Co­or­di­na­tor of Games Pro­gram­ming

Hyper - - TECH -

What is your back­ground in ed­u­ca­tion and game de­vel­op­ment?

Although I have been teach­ing at var­i­ous uni­ver­si­ties and in­sti­tutes for the past six years, I ac­tu­ally have no de­gree. I never stud­ied games beyond a TAFE Diploma. But build­ing games was more than just a hobby for me, it was an es­cape. I was able to build any­thing and be any­one in these worlds, and I hid in them through­out high school. By the time I had ac­quired my cer­ti­fi­ca­tion I had al­ready re­leased two games: very mi­nor, buggy ti­tles, but I had ex­pe­ri­ence. I used that to get a job teach­ing at TAFE, and from there I be­came a univer­sity lec­turer and fi­nally a depart­ment co­or­di­na­tor.

I’ve also been de­vel­op­ing games since I was 12. I have six per­sonal ti­tles pub­licly re­leased, that are all dras­ti­cally dif­fer­ent, from third-per­son team based gob­lin war­fare to a ca­co­phonic greyscale artscape/tear-fest. I use my projects to re­flect where I am phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally; some take years to com­plete, some take weeks. Most no­tably I am cur­rently work­ing on the PC/PS4 ti­tle One Night with Epona Sch­weer, shown at PAX 2015 and GX this year.

Do stu­dents typ­i­cally come to CG Spec­trum with a good idea of what the lo­cal in­dus­try looks like now, and a de­cent idea of what sort of work they might be do­ing af­ter­wards?

I of­ten find stu­dents con­sider the in­dus­try a big ques­tion-mark. They don’t know if it ex­ists, they hear bad things, they some­times think they’ll be des­ti­tute for go­ing down this path, but they do it any­way. Stu­dents en­rol in games with the most dis­mal prospects, but they love games and they want to be a part of it any­way. They even­tu­ally learn where to find the in­dus­try and that com­pa­nies are out there, but I still teach with a great em­pha­sis on mar­ket­ing your­self as a de­vel­oper, mak­ing and re­leas­ing per­sonal projects rapidly to help them to cre­ate a port­fo­lio. Once they can make their own job or join the in­dus­try with some­thing to show for it.

How does ‘pro­gram­ming’ dif­fer from ‘de­sign’, in terms of how it’s taught?

I don’t think that pro­gram­ming and de­sign should be that dif­fer­ent. They both af­fect each-other so deeply that it’s been an aim of mine to dis­solve those bar­ri­ers. Pro­gram­mers should be able to make their own work look and feel great, de­sign­ers should know how to make their plans an ac­tu­al­ity. I think that teach­ing a pro­gram­mer and de­signer should be more or less the same, with op­tional av­enues of fur­ther ex­plo­ration into whichever field they pre­fer, be it code, de­sign, light­ing, 3D, sound.

What do you think is the most im­por­tant thing stu­dents can take away from a games course, that they are un­likely to get if they are self-taught?

The main thing I see stu­dents gain through study that I never re­ceived is a sense of di­rec­tion and that boost into the in­dus­try. Skills can be ac­quired through many av­enues and study is just one. But a way into the in­dus­try space, con­nec­tions and the knowl­edge of where to go next and how, is some­thing that can take many, many years to achieve oth­er­wise. Plus, I still get 2am texts from ex-stu­dents I had years ago, ask­ing me how to do some­thing. I al­ways an­swer.

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