Education spotlight: RMIT

Education spotlight: RMIT

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.

RMIT’s exciting CODE Centre for Digital Ecosystems is bridging play and social consequence. 

Professor Deb Polson and her team at RMIT are thrilled to be officially launching CODE: the Centre for Digital Ecosystems in  2024. CODE is made up of Games Program teaching staff, former and current students, and other cross-disciplinary researchers, practitioners, and postgrads.

The Centre is reimagining the role of gaming tech in society, with a focus on benefitting physical and natural ecosystems.

One of their larger projects is with New Zealand Plastics where they’re working on a simulation to visualise the complexities and consequences of decisions around plastics and recycling. The aim of their multiplayer simulator is to persuade people to reflect on collective impacts outside of their circle of experience.

CODE also hopes to expose game design students to the wider possibilities of their skills, “teaching how these kinds of skills are not just for the entertainment sector but how it can be important to other sectors,” says Polson, referencing fields like science, marketing, engineering, and fashion.

This vision extends to the game design course, where units encourage students’ reflection on gaming’s place in culture. “We’ve been able to find such great graduates who can transition from making studio-based games to coming into this field,” explains Polson. “They really got into the research, the different aspects, the stakeholders, because they had an appreciation of the wider cultural and social and technical aspects of the game.”

The classroom is also a collaborative space, where teachers and students are navigating industry change together. “There’s no playbook,” says program instructor and CODE team member Caleb Noller.

The games program was fast to set up a unit dedicated to exploring AI in 2023. “We wanted students to feel supported in those ideas,” says Lucien Rodriguez Lovell, a Games Program lecturer who co-ran the unit.

“This is where partner learning happens. We’re learning with the students about this,” Polson adds. “This is a time where the iteration of the curriculum is with the students and where they’re at. It’s so exciting to watch that happen.”

Students are further trusted to share their ideas and designs with the public, encouraged through CODE and the program’s Audience Lab events, hosted by ACMI. Public connection has filtered strongly into the students’ own initiatives outside of the course, seen through their involvement at Sabbatical Gallery and presence at MIGW’s Freeplay Parallels event. This experience is building students’ confidence and enriching their understanding of games in culture.

RMIT Game-Changing Student: Iris Anstey

Iris is a soon-to-graduate third-year games student currently working for CODE. Iris has a deep interest and artistic talent for creating forest environments and is working on digital installations to be placed in urban spaces of mundanity, to remind visitors of the land before.

Reflecting on the experience at CODE so far, Iris says, “It’s been really interesting … If there’s a field that interests me that I want to learn about to complement my skills, I can do that. … I only ever thought of games as you make them and sell them as an entertainment piece. And it’s so different here.”