Education spotlight: SAE

Education spotlight: SAE

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.

Adaptable in the turbulence of change

SAE proudly declare themselves “software agnostic.” Industry technologies are evolving faster than ever. One toolkit may be popular one year, only to be replaced by another the next. SAE has responded with a curriculum designed around adaptability.

“By getting them to be software agnostic it means that they are able to pick up a new in-house engine quickly,” explains Associate Lecturer Hayley Wilson. “If they have only ever touched Unreal, or they have only ever touched Unity, making that jump is so much harder. So, we try to get them in the mindset of being open to new software and new things.”

A prototyping unit encourages students to shift their mindsets from trending software engines and to consider instead which engine make the most sense for the concept.

Adaptability, flexibility and broad knowledge are appealing to students, who are increasingly keen to enter indie development. “They’re more interested in learning everything and anything that they can,” says Wilson, “to be … a generalist and working in the indie field rather than going into Triple-A where they’ll have a very specific task.”

They are also practicing collaboration across disciplines. Campus Manager Keiran Bartlett, maintains SAE is “purely creative media” with courses across animation, audio, music, film and more. Students take on the opportunity to draw on each other’s skills. “They’ve been practicing what it’s like to work in industry since the start of the course,” says Bartlett.

The games themselves are being made to explore students’ interests and values, like drawing on their experiences with modern games culture. “Over the last year I’ve seen two games about live-streaming,” Wilson shared. “I think it might relate to how students are actually consuming their media outside of class.”

Wilson has also noticed students’ rising attention to diversity and inclusion, from being mindful towards cognitive loads and colourblind players, to better representing the multicultural world around them.

Image: Violet Hubris – A cosmic-horror action game where players, as Violet—a trans woman scientist, confronts eldritch abominations in a fantasy world. A 2022 cross-discipline project by SAE students.

Public engagement is another vital skill for students starting out in the industry. SAE runs showcases and encourages students to experiment with marketing. These prepare students for key events like Melbourne International Games Week, helping connect their games to audiences.

Image: Spirits Calling by 2022 student group Collective Spirits Studios. A Spirit Fox protects and restores the ethereal lands of the Grove in this puzzle adventure game.