The future of the games sector is bright. As part of our education insights series we highlight local independent institutes achieving exceptional results and mentoring the future of the Victorian games industry.
Creative Victoria congratulates all the graduates across the games education landscape and wish them the best as they embark on careers in this most exciting industry. We also can’t wait for the next generation to start their courses and to be inspired by the opportunities that lay ahead.
Fun meets innovation at Monash University
Students at Monash University are spoiled with access to high-tech setups to fuel their imaginations. While students still mostly gravitate towards making console and PC games, the games staff at Monash encourage them to experiment with the experience of play.
“We try to get them to think outside the box, [like] controllers, different ways to interact and to try and enhance the different ways to actually play and engage with a game,” says Assistant Lecturer Jason Haasz.
This approach is paying off, with current capstone students astounding their teachers with their unconventional designs. “One of the projects that we had this year was an audio-only based game where there was no visual elements to it at all, so it was a different way to think about how to engage with the gaming environment,” says Haasz.
Monash has dedicated units on Immersive Environments, AR and VR and have decked-out VR and motion capture labs for students to embrace their playful, creative energy. Students are having a blast with these digital delights.
Haasz reflects, “Last year I had one of the students do all the motion capture for all their zombies in their game, for some of their creatures, [they were] crawling around the floor. It was good fun for them to suit up and do all that kind of cool stuff.”
Responding to industry innovations, a new Tech Art unit in 2024 will blend digital visual knowledge around shaders, post-processing effects and procedural generation tools. Designing the unit involved input across large and small Australian studios, with GCAP being a key site for industry collaboration.
Image: Zoonique by Joel Atta, Aaron Langley, Betty Gu, Shiyu Liang, and Ken Lin
With procedural generation being used in major games like Marvel’s Spider-Man, staff are set on making sure students are familiar with the possibilities. They are also keen to approach these new areas appropriately.
“It’s looking at the procedural generation from the technical art perspective, so not necessarily what you might expect for just randomised levels. Building tools that artists can then use to actually enhance their environments,” explains teaching fellow Josh Olsen.
Inspired by the games they play (the horror genre being a current favourite), students are learning to hone in on their unique visual styles and backgrounds. From adding a surrealism spin to horror to Chinese aesthetics to Cyberpunk, these students are primed for digital artistic flair.
Monash Students’ Game-Changing Projects
The Orb - Audio Only Experience
The Orb is a digital, audio-only game by Monash students El Leeman, Sam Ray, and Freya Solnordal.
Players navigate a three-dimensional sunless world via the environment’s audio feedback, where all life uses music and sound to communicate. The natural soundscape has been destroyed and players must venture forth to restore and reawaken the planet’s musical spirit.
Zoonique is a charming part strategy, part chaotic co-op party game by Monash students Joel Atta, Aaron Langley, Betty Gu, Shiyu Liang and Ken Lin, with music by Ethan Nash and Oscar Jenkin.
When the 73-year-old zookeeper gets a bad case of food poisoning, the zoo's admin team are called in for the job. Mixing the planning and resource management of strategy games with the utter chaos of co-op party games, players are tasked with taking care of the animal enclosures, ensuring all the animals are happy and visitation remains high.
Image: Zoonique by Joel Atta, Aaron Langley, Betty Gu, Shiyu Liang, and Ken Li