Gaming and university may not be words that are automatically strung together, unless you’re studying Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and have a love of computer games, in which case, it’s a match made in heaven.
This was certainly the experience of a group of University of Tasmania graduates from ICT and Engineering who have teamed up to form a company, Myriad Games Studio, and released their first commercial game in July.
Video effects artist Andrew Mendlik (BICT 2019) said connections with the industry were opened up through university, rather than it being a case of just studying theory, leaving university and then having to seek connections.
"Some of our lecturers were working in gaming, which made it a much less purely academic experience," Andrew said.
Dr Ian Lewis, Associate Professor Kristy De Salas and Dr Lindsay Wells, not only lecture in the game units but have a gaming studio. "They have heaps of experience around them," he said.
"If people want to release a game on, say Xbox, they need to apply. That’s something the lecturers have done, they understand the pitfalls and we can learn from those experiences."
Myriad Games studio is made up of alumni Andrew Mendlik, Jeremiah Walter (BComp Hons 2013), Emily Stone (BSc Hons 2013), Alisha Stone (BComp 2015), and Luca Rocchi (BE 2014). The game they have released is called Where the Snow Settles, an evocative and beautifully crafted story about empathy and compassion in a world that feels lost and uncertain.
"It’s not about shooting or scoring points," said Andrew. "It’s a character-driven story about finding confidence in yourself. The main character isn‘t a superhero.
"The Myriad team wanted to have a game experience from end to end, not just make snippets of games but release them commercially, a bit like making a short film and showing it at a festival versus making a home movie.
"It has been really well supported locally and in Australia from other game developers."
Andrew said there is increasing support from Screen Tasmania and the State government for gaming.
"There is interest in growing the Tech industry in Tasmania and video games are increasingly being recognised as a legitimate part of that," he said.
And that can’t be a bad thing with, as Andrew describes it, the "global gaming industry earning more than the film and music industry combined".
Those wondering if you have to be across ‘code’ before starting an ICT degree at university, might take comfort from a comment on Andrew’s website, "I went in having never written a line of code in my life nor having ever used a game engine. In my first semester, one of my assignments was programming a small game in Java, and I was hooked."
This article featured in the monthly eNews Alumni and Friends, if you are a member of the University of Tasmania alumni community and would like to receive this publication, please email us at Alumni.Office@utas.edu.au or update your email address.