What is GCAP?
Game Connect Asia Pacific (GCAP) is Australia’s premier game development conference, it focuses on skills development, industry trends, and international business matching. GCAP delivers thought-provoking, creative, and innovative sessions from leaders in the local and international game development industry, covering programming, art, design, management, and more.
Every year game developers, publishers, investors, educational institutions, media, and key industry players from across Australia and the world are brought together to discuss the rapidly-changing development and distribution ecosystem, and to identify the opportunities for developers of all sizes in the global video games market. A selection of GCAP lectures and panels are available on YouTube.
GCAP is one of the many events held during Melbourne International Games Week (MIGW), Asia Pacific’s largest digital games celebration. Usually held in late October or early November each year, MIGW features conferences, events, and activities for everyone with an interest in video games, whether they are industry professionals, lifelong enthusiasts, or curious newcomers.
What are the Australian Game Developer Awards (AGDAs)?
The Australian Game Developer Awards ceremony is a national event celebrating outstanding games and individual achievements by Australian game developers. The Awards are managed by IGEA and are an integral part of GCAP.
What is the Arcade?
The Arcade is Australia’s first not-for-profit, collaborative workspace created specifically for game developers and creative companies using game methodologies and technologies. For more information, please visit the Arcade website.
How Do I Get Into the Games Industry?
The games development industry comprises a broad range of roles that encompass a variety of skill sets. Some of these roles include programmer, designer, producer, artist, animator, sound designer, community manager, and quality assurance tester, just to name a few. To get an idea of what these roles involve, check out this guide at Screenskills. (Please note, this is a British website so not all course information will be applicable to Australian students.) This site lists a range of job opportunities in the industry, including position descriptions, and highlights the diversity of roles in the sector.
Suggestions for a High School Student:
Programmer: Study maths, physics and IT subjects. There is no way around the “hard stuff.” As technology is always changing, find out what coding languages are currently being used in the games industry.
Artist/animator: Study art, graphic design, photography, media. Computing gives you an understanding of how programmers work, which is useful as artists need to work closely with them. It is also good to have an understanding of marketing, as game artists in small teams will often create the artwork for the studio’s social media.
Sound designer: Study music, media and IT subjects. You’ll probably need to do an audio engineering course after high school, so having solid computing skills will be useful.
Game designer: This role can vary greatly from company to company so it’s difficult to recommend specific subjects. If you’ll be involved with level design, physics and maths are useful. If your role focuses on narrative design, creative writing, media and editing skills will be helpful. IT subjects will help you understand how programmers work which is great especially as some game designers also help with coding.
Producer: Producers, like game designers, often have a diverse skillset. Business management and accounting can be useful, as producers manage the production budget and schedule, so good organisational skills are key. Psychology can be helpful as producers must manage their team and also liaise with publishers, media and other stakeholders. They may also be in charge of managing marketing and social media in smaller companies. Lastly, art, media and computing subjects will help you understand how the developers on your teamwork, which can help you to more effectively manage a project.
(Please note, the above list is only a guide. Video game developers are not clones of each other and exist in a fast-moving and highly competitive environment that is characterised by continuous technological and business innovations. The same role can vary quite dramatically from company to company and there are many paths into the industry.)
Another great way to engage with video games in high school is the Australian STEM Video Game Challenge. Sponsored by IGEA, the program is about encouraging STEM-related (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills through the enjoyable and intrinsically fun medium of interactive game development. This serves not only to alter student perception of STEM subject areas but also as a great intro to the engaging power of video games!
Many tertiary institutions offer games development or related courses, so have a look at what’s in your local area.
The best first step is to consult your University Admission Centre. These process applications for admission to most undergraduate courses at participating institutions and allow you to browse available offerings. They do not only list traditional universities also private education providers such as AIE and SAE which offer a range of pathways and degrees. AIE runs the Game Plus incubator, a proud member of IGEA.
- For Queensland, check QTAC
- For New South Wales and Canberra, check UAC
- For Victoria, check VTAC
- For South Australia and the Northern Territories, check SATAC
- For Western Australia, check TISC
If you are concerned about the quality of an educational institute offering higher education degrees, Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT), a suite of government-endorsed surveys for higher education, which cover the student life cycle from commencement to employment, will offer you guidance.
The most important thing to remember is that working in the games industry requires passion, dedication, networking, and a lot of hard work. The industry in Australia is comparatively small and you will be competing against some great talent for available roles. Even if it’s not a viable career path for you, there’s no reason you can’t make games as a hobby!
Online Resources For Games Development
Here are some website and software recommendations.
Game Development Software Aimed at Beginners:
- Construct 2: An HTML5 game creator designed specifically for 2D games.
- GameSalad: Create games for iOS, Android and HTML5 with easy drag and drop function.
- Stencyl: Multiplatform game development software.
- RPG Maker: Software to create role-playing games.
- Scratch: Program your own interactive stories, games, and animations.
Game Development Software:
- Unity: A flexible and powerful development platform for creating multiplatform 3D and 2D games and interactive experiences.
- Unreal Engine: A complete suite of multi-platform game development tools.
Engaging with game engines and associated tools to “mod” games is also a good way to gain a better understanding of the inner working of video games.
Learn to code:
- Code Academy: Learn to code interactively for free.
While these sites also contain courses you have to pay for, there are plenty of free resources aimed at various skill levels – from heavy stuff at MIT to content for a younger audience at Code Avengers.
- Blender: A free and open-source 3D art creation suite.
There are also free versions of proprietary software available. While these are often limited in terms of features and cannot be used for commercial projects, they can nevertheless serve as a good introduction. Examples include Nuke for VFX or Houdini Apprentice.
- GIMP: The GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a free software for photo retouching, image composition and image authoring etc. Think of it as a free alternative to Photoshop.
- Sculptris: A 3D art program.
- Inkscape: Open source vector art program.
Game Development Resources and Misc:
- Pixel Prospector: Resource list and step by step guide for game development.
- Sortingh.At: Another guide for the game development process.
- Twine: Open source interactive tool for non linear storytelling.
Getting Involved in Your Local Game Development Community
It’s not just what you know but who you know! The Australian games industry is a welcoming group and it’s definitely worth getting to know other developers.
Join your local IGDA chapter’s Facebook and other local support groups:
Join Discord servers:
Attend local meet-ups:
- Sydney (“Beers and Pixels,” check the Sydney IGDA Facebook group)
- Melbourne (“IGDAM,” check the Melbourne IGDA Facebook group)
- Adelaide (“Adelaide Game Dev Unwind,” check the Adelaide Game Developers Facebook group)
Think of a game jam as a hackathon focused on game development. You and your team are given an idea and you have a limited timeframe to come up with something playable. As such, game jams foster new friendships, increase confidence and opportunities within the community. People are invited to explore new technology tools, trying on new roles in development and testing their skills to do something that requires them to design, develop create, test and make a new game in a short time frame.
The best example is the Global Game Jam, the world’s largest game jam event taking place around the world at physical locations. Every year in January, thousands of participants around the world, including Australia, make a game within 48 hours.
Girl Geek Academy
If you identify as female or non-binary, the Girl Geek Academy offers a great network via its Games Career Incubator. Girl Geek Academy are skilled digital professionals who work to see an increase of women in tech, women in games, women who make, female designers, and female founders. So far, they have taught over 10,000 women and girls. Their Games Career Incubator is aimed at early career practitioners throughout Victoria who are ready to advance their careers & leadership in the games industry.
Do You Offer Work Experience or Internships?
As the IGEA is an advocacy group, not a development company, we don’t offer work experience directly. Some of our members do, so try to contact them directly through their websites.
Australian Games Industry Statistics
Who plays games in Australia? How old are they? How do they integrate games into their lives? The answers to these questions – and more – can be found in our Digital Australia report. Access the latest version here.
Some of the highlights include:
- 91 per cent of Australian households own a video game device
- The average of a video game player in Australia is 34 years old
- Nearly half of those playing video game players are female
- Older Australians also love to play, with 42 per cent of those aged 65 and over identifying as gamers
Australians love for video games is also reflected in the annual sales data. In 2018 Australians spent more than $AU4 billion on games and associated hardware. This means Australians spend more on games than they spend on films, streaming services, pay TV, music, books or likely any other creative or entertainment activity. A detailed report can be accessed here.
Australian-made games are enjoyed all over the world, some of the world’s biggest hits were made right here on our home soil. The Australian video game development industry continues to grow in size, drawing the majority of its revenues from exports while creating significant opportunities for skilled jobs locally. A detailed report on the number of people employed in the industry, the revenue generated and other key indicators can be found here.
New Zealand Games Industry Statistics
Kiwis take just as enthusiastically to games as Australians do – Video games are not only main-stream, they are now an integral part of everyday New Zealand culture. Click here for a detailed report on New Zealand video game demographics.
That New Zealanders’ love of playing video games shows no sign of slowing down is also highlighted in the annual sales data. A report on 2018 sales can be found here.
New Zealand game developers are highly successful. In fact, the New Zealand video games industry is making more money than Australia. This report from our Kiwi counterparts from the New Zealand Game Developers Association goes into more detail on key industry metrics.