So three days after Melbourne International Games Week (MIGW) has officially ended, I've had enough time to recover and start writing about my experience. Firstly I thought I'd explain how I experienced it in comparison to the previous year, then go into a more detailed recount of each day.
This was my second MIGW while I've been in the industry and let me tell you, it was much easier the second time around. I recall, the first year I went, I felt like an imposter. I had just finished my Honours degree and hadn't really produced or developed anything that I felt the industry would appreciate. But since then, I have been slowly refining my craft, I've gotten better as a designer, I've learnt how to program, I have been showing off my work to more and more people, and I have been stepping out of my boundaries to see what I can actually achieve. This year, when posed the question of "Are you a developer?", I didn't hesitate to say "Yes, I am!". This was a huge turning point for me, as I never believed that I would be confident to say that from where I was a year ago and it is due to the lovely support of the local community that I am able to continue working in this industry.
The first officially event that I took part in was Unite 2016, a conference dedicated to the use of the Unity Engine. I was a volunteer, helping with ushering, registration and general supervision. I had volunteered the previous year as well and the improvements in organisation, having nearly all the events occurring on the same floor and the registration desk was more efficient, led to a smoother operation, less people needed directing and the volunteers were able to locate each other quite quickly.
I didn't get to see as many talks as the year prior, however, I did manage to have a number of nice chats about where I fit in the industry. They ensured me that the best approach for this industry is to continual work on improving my skills and to put myself out there, to show the work I can do. It takes time and dedication to get good at something so I have to work hard for it.
The day was good, however, I felt that I should have taken more care not to tire myself out as much as I did. For the second half of the day, I forgot to refill my water bottle so by the time we ended I was exhausted and a tad dehydrated. Besides that, I was ready to head home after making a brief appearance at the Unite Networking Night, ready to go to sleep and wake up bright and early for the first day of GCAP.
GCAP Day 1 and Networking Night:
With a coffee in hand, I headed off early to attend Game Connect Asia Pacific (GCAP) Day 1. Of all the events during MIGW, GCAP has always been my highlight. I love the environment, the people, the talks. Everyone who attends has something that they are passionate about within the industry and are often happy to talk about it.
The opening keynote was Corey May, Lead Writer on the Assassin's Creed series and Narrative Director at Certain Affinity, who gave a lovely speech on what the GCAP theme, "The Shoulders of Giants", meant to him and described how he visually saw it. There are people in this industry who are leaders in their fields and this year, it seems, they were urged to become mentor figures and help support those who are still finding their way. To those who are still finding our footing we were encouraged to find our mentors and be courageous enough to step out of our boundaries.
After the keynote, there was a quick break and then to the rest of the conference. I managed to see four talks, "Building Trust as a Game Designer" by James Everett, "Playing to Your Strengths: The Story Behind 'Game Dev Tycoon'" by Patrick Klug, "Ron Gilbert talks to Katie Gall", and "Your Mental Health is Not an Optional Side Quest" by Jennifer Hazel.
The "Building Trust as a Game Designer" talk spoke on the idea of what trust is made of and how it is necessary in order to build a healthy workspace. He spoke of the three components that are needed to build trust; Clarity, Empathy, and Reliability. I won't go into the details of the talk here as this blog is already too long but perhaps in the future, I may write on this topic. This probably my favourite talk of the day as it spoke on a topic that I was aware of but haven't been formally told.
"Playing to Your Strengths: The Story Behind 'Game Dev Tycoon'" by Patrick Klug was another good talk which was a post-mortem of the game 'Game Dev Tycoon'. This was particularly interesting as Klug spoke on how a lot of the mechanics within the game are traditionally no-nos when designing a game however their team was able to take those and change them into something that worked for their game.
The fireside talk between Ron Gilbert and Katie Gall provided something I didn't expect. I got an interesting perspective into the importance of marketing a game well and how marketing is telling a story of the product not necessarily the product itself. From this talk, I was once again amazed at the passion people have for their own work within this industry and hearing it from Katie, someone I already admire in this industry, made it all the more impactful.
The final session I attended was the "Your Mental Health is Not an Optional Side Quest" by Jennifer Hazel. The talk spoke of mental health in a broad sense within the industry, what to be aware of and what to do if you are facing some issues. I found this talk was a little hard to listen to, as I related to a lot of the signs that were being mentioned.
I decided to skip the last session of the day, I was still tired from the previous day and none of the talks seemed to really entice me. Instead, I had a couple of lovely chats, sketched for a while and generally let myself relaxed before going to the Networking Night that GCAP was hosting. At the Networking Night, I caught up with some old friends, made some new and generally had a good time talking to people. Decided to have a somewhat early night, I headed home, went to sleep, ready to start all over again the next day.