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.

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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

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