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The most important career lessons we learnt from PAX Australia 2015’s industry panels

Kai Yi Wong

Fri Dec 11 2015


MORE than just an exhibition showcasing the latest in gaming, PAX Australia also offers students and graduates a chance to learn from the industry’s biggest names. Kai Yi Wong has the details on the most important career lessons industry experts shared at PAX Australia 2015.

Panel header

PAX Australia 2015 is an entertainment extravaganza for gamers and cosplayers, catering to those eager to check out the latest in gaming or to show off that costume which they have worked on for months.

Running alongside the flashing lights and booming loudspeakers of the exhibitors’ booths are its many panels, most of which run about half an hour to a full hour.

They consist of topics from interviews with professional gamers to full on game tournaments, with several diving into deeper topics like “How to get into the video games industry and stay relevant”, which Meld attended.

Keep the passion alive

Panellist names of "How to get into the video games industry and stay relevant". Image Kai Yi Wong

Panellist names of “How to get into the video games industry and stay relevant”. Image: Kai Yi Wong

“How to get into the video games industry and stay relevant” was a panel helmed by several big names in the gaming industry.

Among the panellists were Tony Reed, CEO of the Game Developers Association of Australia, and guest speaker Brad Welch, Design Director at 343 Industries – developers of the hit new Xbox game Halo 5.

“If you want to get into the video games industry, the main thing is to never stop learning,” the panellists agreed. They emphasised the need to constantly absorb new knowledge and update yourself on the latest news coming  in the industry.

“Be persistent. Never give up even when you are beset with problems or if people try to dismiss you,” said Tony Reed.

“Overcoming challenges is what makes you a better developer.”

The panellists were unanimous in agreeing that improving the quality of artwork produced would go a long way.

They iterated the need to continuously learn and refine art styles and methods, to avoid getting bogged down by old habits and for artists and developers to learn new art styles.

More than just game developers 

Panellists for "Diversity in Game Jobs: We're not all designers and coders!", speaking on their respective roles in the games industry. Image Kai Yi Wong

Panellists for “Diversity in Game Jobs: We’re not all designers and coders!”, speaking on their respective roles in the games industry. Image: Kai Yi Wong

The other panel was titled “Diversity in Games Jobs: We’re not all designers and coders!”.

Recognising that the gaming industry isn’t just made up coders, developers and artists, this panel sought to elaborate on other roles in the industry which range from community managers to administrative staff.

The panellists mostly worked for big-name studios. One of the speakers was Giselle Rosman, a Business Administrator from Hipster Whale studios, best known for producing the hit game, Crossy Road. Another was Alison Gibb, Development Director at EA/Firemonkeys, which produced the high quality simulator Real Racing 3.

Instead of focusing on the technical aspects of game development, the panellists instead expanded on the world away from the game itself, sharing their stories on working with lots of different people and nurturing ideas with potential.

“Reaching out to the community and making sure you engage with them is an important part of our work,” said Lisy Kane, Community Manager and Associate Producer at League of Geeks, an indie game development collective.

“Community managers need to know how to market the product too, which in itself is a challenge,” she continued.

When asked what was special about her role, Alison Gibb said getting people of different backgrounds to work with each other to create games was a rewarding experience.

“Fostering an idea and a team to make more games is great,” she said.

“To get people of different backgrounds and specialisations to work with each other is an even greater challenge, but a rewarding one.”

Know how much you’re worth

The panellists sounded a note of caution when the question of salary came up.

“Indie does not pay extremely well. You would expect a range of $30k to $35k if you are in a junior starting position,” said co-founder of Screwtape Studios Megan Summers.

However, they remained encouraging when asked the right way to get into management of a game company.

“Build up a good folio and get yourself out there,” said Kane.

“You need to identify what skills you have, so that you can better sell yourself and allow the company to see you as the asset you are.”