A ‘non-typical’ day in the life of Clara Reeves
Long-time video game player and developer Clara Reeves is President of Hipster Whale – the local games company behind runaway indie success Crossy Road which has been played by more than 150 million people worldwide.
Canberra-born Clara has played video games “forever”, growing up in a family that played them for fun. She has worked in games for most of her adult life, after realising that a career in the games industry was viable.
“I studied fine arts and printmaking at University but continued my studies in software development as my interest in the games industry grew.”
Most of Clara’s career has been in production management – including a stint as Manager of Games, Digital Content and Animation at Film Victoria. She says that working in games production often means doing all the things that other people are not doing, all the things that are not defined as someone else’s job.
“I don’t often have a typical day. Things will come up that will derail my plans – but that’s okay. I embrace and organise the chaos.”
Clara has come to believe that trying to organise creative chaos too much can compromise a creative process.
“I think that sometimes workflow process can take over and people can fall in love with that, instead of focusing on the actual thing that you’re making.”
While Clara’s role is not technical, her programming background provides her with a solid foundation to draw on when it’s required.
“My kids think my job is to play games! Which of course is a part of it. I test, review and investigate new games, both ours and those developed by peers here and abroad. But my main responsibility is company strategy; keeping an eagle-eyed view on where we are headed, while everyone else’s head is down, creating great work.
“A lot of the development is local, but we don’t make games just for Australia, we make them for the world. So there’s a bit of travel involved in my role – we need to know what is happening in different regions and to develop our relationships in those regions,” she said.
Today, Crossy Road is translated into more than 12 languages including English, Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish and Traditional Chinese. Managing translation and other outsourced, specialised production support also sits with Clara’s role.
“Games are a mainstream medium now – a medium that is hugely popular across the globe. There is such a big range available now, as many as there are movies.
“Games are about feelings for me. Sure, they are about other things too – technical things, reaction time or brain challenges – but the reason I play is for the ‘big feelings’ I get.
“There are many games experiences that I’ve had that I wish my ‘non-gamer’ friends could have. I know they won’t find them, but I know that they’d absolutely love them if they did. Games like Monument Valley, Gone Home or The Last of Us – which is basically the ‘best movie you’ve never played’.”
Soon Melbourne International Games Week (MIGW) will commence, bringing with it a host of opportunities to engage with diverse games, games makers and fans alike. Like many others in the local industry, Clara is looking forward to connecting with overseas guests, including the US makers of Gone Home, The Fullbright Company, who is keynoting the industry conference, Games Connect Asia Pacific (GCAP), and catching up on industry developments.
“MIGW is a busy time for me. There’s a lot of people in town, so there’ll be a lot of meetings. I really enjoy the scale of MIGW, everyone gets to meet everyone and it’s not as frantic as some of the giant industry events like GDC (Games Developer’s Conference), China Joy or Gamescom.
“Personally I also love taking my kids to PAX and letting them dress up as Star Wars characters. Last year my son dressed up as Kylo Ren and found another child dressed as Rey. They ran around together all day, taking photos with other Star Wars characters. He loved it.”
Melbourne International Games Week 2017 runs from 22–29 October 2017 in venues across Melbourne – see the website for more details.