The state of the industry in Australia

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OK first up, I'm not after career advice. I'm quite happy at the moment in the first year of my Robotics Engineering/Computer Science double degree. I'm just curious to know, from someone with reliable (preferably first hand) information, what the games development industry is like in Australia at the moment. Every now and then I see some article in a tabloid or online or something saying how it's a huge growth industry and there's never been a better time rah rah rah. I wonder how much of that is accurate and how much is rhetoric? Or maybe it is growing in a big way, but it's growing from not much so it's still pretty small? The reason I'm so sceptical is because last year I went to the open day of RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) Open Day, and sat through a lecture on all their IT courses, one of which was games development. At the end of it I stuck my hand up and basically asked "I'm interested in games development, but I get the impression that a lot of guys my age would be too. I don't want to do a course that will make me a dime-a-dozen employee. What are the chances of getting a decent job with OK pay in the games industry from this course?" The guy was really honest about it and said something like, "In Australia... not great. America is really where it's all happening at the moment." I know it's only one opinion but that was really the nail in the coffin for me so I decided to do something else I really enjoy but which is more of a safe choice (my current course) and continue game dev as a hobby, and possible career later in life if I decide I want to pursue it- hell, I'll still have a computer science degree. cheers metal

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Melbourne is the Game Dev capital, followed by Brisbane.

Check out tsumea and you can quickly see how many jobs there are in Melbourne compared to the other capitals.

Personally, I'm in Sydney and have fairly limited choices - BigWorld/Microforte and Team Bondi are the only two big ones (Perception was decent sized, but Lenzo ran it into the ground), there's a few small indi's and all the mobile phone companies as well...

I don't think it's too hard to get into the industry here, as long as you've got the motivation and love of games... and don't mind working for less \$ than you could be getting in other corporate jobs... and don't mind having to relocate to where the work is.

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My experience is fairly old first hand; it's been many years since I left the mainstream industry back to academia for postgrad studies. Hopefully you'll get some accounts from people currently in the Aussie industry as well. The impression I've got is the Aussie industry is continuing along its merry way, growing at a reasonable rate. I'm not sure about "explosion"; that might be overstating things.

Victoria used to have the benefit that the state government was paying attention to the industry here. I moved interstate for a while and have only just moved back so I don't know if that's still the case.

My feel of the industry in Australia is that we've got a benefit in that the cost of development is lower here than in the tech centres of the states, but we're still fairly close to the U.S. tastes in games. This makes us useful as a source for hire for large publishers. The downside is that we're on the other side of the planet, and that makes communication difficult. I got the impression that U.S. and European publishers see their Aussie studios as very distant, and that's not a good thing when a publisher wants to make cutbacks. Most of the Aussie studios I know have switched publishers at least once in the last few years.

It depends a bit on what that course of game development at RMIT was as to your chances of getting a decent job. It's pretty easy to get an undergraduate degree in Australia if you've got the grades, so a computer science degree or equivalent is pretty much expected for a beginner programmer position. You'll start at a lower than average pay rate, and I didn't get the impression that it gets much higher as you gain seniority.

But as I stated at the beginning, my inside info is very out of date. It's been the better part of a decade since I was in the mainstream industry (gee, has it been that long?!) and these days I'm more interested in the self-made indie route than the mainstream signed-up-to-a-publisher dev house path. Things might have changed a lot in the last few years.

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I don't live in Australia, but I've worked with Australian game companies. But let me paint a general picture that applies to not just Australia.

The game industry is alive and growing.
There's a lot of competition to get in it.
If your passion is games, you should go for it.
If you work hard enough and are really good, you'll find yourself in it.

That's as true for Australia as it is for any other country where the game industry has a strong foothold.

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http://www.gamedevmap.com
http://www.gameindustrymap.com/

Find out about Australian companies, why doncha.

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Having read some of Tom's articles (including the one on following your passions), I'm sure he would hate to read this, but salary is quite a factor for me. Not that I would work a crap job just for extra money, but making games and making robots are both pretty much on a level playing field for me in terms of interests, and the way I see it-
*My current course is a lot more secure career and salary wise
*Game dev is a hell of a lot cheaper and easier to do as a hobby than robotics/electronics
*If I changed my mind after picking either path, games dev with a computer science degree is a lot easier than robotics engineering with a games dev degree.

Without wanting to sound like an arrogant naive little kid, I'd like to think that academically I wouldn't have any troubles getting into game dev. This wasn't me trying to suss out what the job market's like and whether I'd be able to find employment. The reason I posted this was cos I read one of the earlier mentioned articles in the trashy free paper you get on the train (mX ftw!) and was curious as to how accurate it was given previous advice.

Anyway I'm rambling now. Thanks for the info guys.
Cheers,
metal

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try PMing Sly. I dunno if he checks his PMs but he's around the forums every now and then and is always helpful in regards to Australian business, seeing as he works at Krome. I hear Queensland is where it's at.

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Firemint is recruiting (www.firemint.com).

-cb

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Quote:
 Original post by metalmidget...making games and making robots are both pretty much on a level playing field for me in terms of interests...*My current course is a lot more secure career and salary wise... This wasn't me trying to suss out what the job market's like and whether I'd be able to find employment. The reason I posted this was cos I read one of the earlier mentioned articles in the trashy free paper you get on the train (mX ftw!) and was curious as to how accurate it was given previous advice.

You couldn't have said this in the first place?? You get answers that arrow straight to the bull's eye when you ask questions that paint a clear target.