Do you get excited when you overhear someone discussing Minecraft on public transport? Does thinking about game-play mechanics or artificial intelligence get you excited?
If you answered yes to one of these questions, there’s a strong chance that your interest in video games is more than just a passing phase. Now more than ever, the pathways for getting started with game design and development are expanding, but here are some things you can do to kickstart your career today.
1. Play as many different games and genres as you can
Being a great designer, artist or programmer means really immersing yourself in the medium. When he was growing up, Ron Gilbert of LucasArts used to spend countless hours analysing games like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, take notes, then try to recreate them on his computer. In other words, don’t just play—ask questions. What makes a game fun? Could the difficulty curve be smoother? Does the soundtrack evoke the proper mood? Playing games you’re already familiar with is a great, but exposing your mind to different styles of games can arm you with new knowledge.
2. Get involved with local game-jams
Game-jams aren’t just an impromptu game development assembly where creativity overrides the need for sleep. They’re a great avenue for networking, chatting to like-minded people, and getting down and dirty with game dev essentials all inside a 48 hour time limit. Perhaps best of all, you don’t need any prior experience. At this year’s Melbourne Global Game Jam, a total of 75 games were created by passionate artists, tinkerers and narrative-designers.
3. Experiment with different software
There’s a ton of free game software out there, and the only thing you’ll need to access it is a solid internet connection. Tools like GameMaker, Adventure Game Maker and Twine are good starting points, and even heavyweights like Unity and Unreal Engine won’t cost you a single penny. Then it’s just a matter of having the right idea and exploring the possibilities.
4. Pinpoint which area of game development you’re passionate about
Do you feel a mysterious connection with pixel art? Are you the kind of person who spends hours creating mods? AIE offers a range of different courses, so whether you’re interested in 3D animation, design or mastering the art of programming, there’s something for everyone. Every video game is a composite effort that needs input from a team of artists, musicians, programmers, designers and writers to become playable. Remember, before the parties, go-karting and tennis matches, Mario started out as a tri-coloured sprite.
5. Attend gaming festivals and relevant industry events
While researching things online can be enlightening, there’s nothing quite like walking through the crowded mazes of Oz Comic-Con or PAX Aus. There are educational panels, opportunities to test out unreleased games, and even score some free merchandise. Going to things like Melbourne International Games Week (MIGW) and the PAX Aus Indie Showcase isn’t just an awesome way to learn about the flourishing Australian games industry, it’s your chance to get involved.