Game Degree Alumni
The goal of any given degree is to finish it and take your skills out into the wider world. We chatted to five former game students to see what they’ve been up to since they finished.
MICHAEL VATSKALIS Double major in Games Art and Design, Games Software Design and Production, Murdoch University, WA. Graduated: 2015
Michael Vatskalis believes that his degree prepared him well for game design: “I gained a lot of skills relating to pretty much every aspect of game design and production, as well as project management in general, thanks to the broad nature of the study I undertook”, he says. “I learned how to look at games from a critical perspective, both narratively and mechanically, which in turn allows me to break down games into their component pieces and examine how they work on and with players.” While he focused on design and programming, Murdoch offered several mandatory introductory courses that invested him with further skills. “Thanks to the 3D modelling classes I undertook, I find it relatively easy to give the 3D artists I work with the direction that they need”. The staff at Murdoch are active in getting their students to show off work and explore the industry. “Every year, the lecturer for my game design class organised for students doing the Games Art and Design capstone project to publically showcase their work at the Perth Games Festival”, he says. “Not only is a good way to teach students what conventions will be like, but it also exposes them to people looking for cool ideas or people to hire.” This year, Michael decided to extend his education with a oneyear post-grad course in games and app production.
JOSHUA WHITTINGTON Bachelor of Information Technology, Games Design and Development, Macquarie University, Sydney. Graduated: 2015
Joshua has appeared in one of these education specials before, early in his degree. Now on the other side, he feels that the biggest thing that came from his degree was “a deeper understanding of the actual design process of games”, which has affected the way he plays. “I play games now and can identify why they work or what’s wrong with them on a much deeper level than I could before”, he says. “I often find myself making mental notes of things that really stand out in a game’s design.” This has helped him with the games criticism he has produced on the side, and he now runs his own games site, Mon Amiibo, focused on toys-to-life games. “It’s a fun way of ensuring my design knowledge doesn’t
go to waste”, he says. Joshua admits that it hasn’t been easy to work on games since he finished. “I took a full-time job in a different field with the aim of working on my own projects on the side, but it’s a lot more draining than I expected”, he says. “One of my problems is that I come up with a lot of ideas that are too far outside my skill level and can’t get motivated to work on smaller projects that don’t interest me quite as much.” Despite this, he tell us that he has no regrets. “When I’m working on my own projects I have a much better idea of what I’m doing and can more easily identify the strengths and weaknesses of what I’ve made a lot earlier in the process. I have significantly more confidence in my games writing and my own creations because I’m coming from a much more informed position than I used to.”
SHANNON GRIXTI Bachelor of Creative Media (majoring in Graphic Design), QANTM Sydney. Graduated: 2013
It’s important to note that not everyone emerges from their degrees with entirely positive experiences. Shannon Grixti, who now heads up gaming website PressStart, is glad that he studied what he did, but is also wary of “getting sucked into the marketing” offered by some institutions. “I paid a lot of money and I’m sure that a lot of people haven’t been as lucky in finding steady work as I have”, he says. “I felt that the education was very self-motivated, and there were definitely times that
I felt that I wasn’t getting adequate feedback.” He doesn’t feel like he was being prepared to work in the industry, necessarily. “Tthe one thing that I’m thankful for is that my course leader was honest in the sense that a lot of us probably wouldn’t end up working in the games industry. This is what lead me to make the change from Interactive Entertainment to Graphic Design”. Although the degree may not have had the desired impact, the education he received helped. “I believe that my passion, as well as aspects that I picked up in my studies, lead me to be successful, and led to the website being acquired by Southern Cross Austereo, meaning I was able to go forward in the games industry full-time.”
I’m sure that a lot of people haven’t been as lucky In finding steady work as I have
Hadyn Lander, alumni of Macquarie Uni's Bachelor of IT recently launched his first game, This Way Up