Education spotlight: Swinburne Vocational

Education spotlight: Swinburne Vocational

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.

Congratulations to Swinburne students for a successful Steam launch

Swinburne’s vocational education team were proud to end 2023 with the launch of three student games on the major digital game store Steam.

Staff are responding to distribution shifts through a new Advanced Diploma of Creative Product Development on the horizon for 2024. The course will guide students from various fields to ready a creative product for commercial launch—something that’s especially relevant for game students given the industry’s rise in self-publishing.

Program Coordinator Damian Scott shares one of his core philosophies for students learning to put their work out into the world: “Fail often.” Game design tools update all the time, and it can be difficult to stay on top. “Get your work out there as quickly as you can and see if anyone actually is interested in it and if not just move on to the next project”, he says.

Creating commercial entertainment and/or scoring a job in a major studio isn’t the end goal for all students. As Scott explains, “I’m teaching 95 per cent of my students how to be indie developers and all of those skills are transferrable into other industries”—a mindset that reflects the reality of the Victorian landscape that’s mostly made of independent developers.

Students are also keen to explore culture and storytelling through games. Through lockdown, games for wellbeing and catharsis—whether peaceful or action-packed—became a central focus point. Scott observed among students an “awareness emerging that games have grown enough that it’s time to happily explore these very important cultural aspects of what we do and who we are … Games, for a lot of [students], are their primary source of narrative.”

Because of this, students at Swinburne are sceptical that technologies like AI will pose a major threat to their craft. The story experiences and intrinsic connections that make games special need a human perspective that they’re stepping up to provide.

The student game demos celebrate these values and will be officially available to play on Steam later in 2023. Here is a sneak peek:

Dreamslayer is a first-person “hack-n-zap” arena game that takes players into a stylised retro fantasy world swarmed with demons. Play as a holy dragon warrior, stripped of its power and dragon form, roused to war but trapped in a nightmare.

Image: Dreamslayer by Swinburne VE – ICT students

Of Dead Earth depicts a dreamy Australian Outback where all is not what it seems. The game is a third-person survival horror game that takes place during a harrowing dust storm in a fictional small town. The town’s design draws on references from Google Earth and

Image: Of Dead Earth by Swinburne VE – ICT students

Orkus – Scion of the Wyrm is a student project from 2022. Wielding the power of the crystals that grow in the land, embark on an epic mission to find your home after awakening eons after the world has fallen.

Image: Orkus – Scion of the Wyrm by Swinburne VE – ICT students (2022).

Find these games coming soon to Steam or check out what the Swinburne students are up to at PAX in 2024.