Monday, November 14, 2016

PCPowerplay: Education Special 2016 - Featuring me! (and my old Letter of the Month, Oct 1999)

I was an avid reader and subscriber of PCPowerplay for many years as a teenager. 

I really enjoyed their great writing and editing of features, previews, reviews and opinions.  

It was in PCPowerplay that I saw the first advert to an Aussie games studio, Ratbag games, makers of the amazing Powerslide.  I contacted them for advice about how to educate myself, to get into games.  A lovely guy emailed back and said I should learn 3D Studio Max and Photoshop, which I did, and it certainly helped me to understand what games are made of.

So the magazine provided me with an avenue into game development.

And now, occasionally I get the chance to appear in the magazine, and it really pleases me to step back and acknowledge that I have now been in the Australian games industry for a long time.  And it feels good to be teaching games, as well as making games.

So thank you PCPowerplay for having me in the magazine, and acting as a powerful presence in the Australian game playing and making scene!

I wrote to PCPowerplay about 16 years ago, and got Letter of the Month, writing about my determination to get into the industry.  That was a good feeling.  And getting Letter of the Month was a nice show of support for a young person expressing their passion about games.  Rock on!

Here's the version of the letter I wrote in to them...


Beautiful magazine men!  It's superbly written with a perfect balance of humour, wit, and precise analysis: a joy to read and of supreme use.

I am writing in response to Rowan Fraser (PCPP #39) who suggested "games are for fun, not intensive study."  Fair enough.  There is barely a game on the shelf today that you could analyse in terms of artistic or social MEANING.  But god damn it, I'm looking forward to the day that we CAN play a game and get a lot more out of it for our MINDS, not just our senses.  Imagine the Unreal engine powering a game full of political and social intrigue!  It can be approached bazaarly or humorously; it needn't be too serious!  I look forward to a time when games are layered deep with meaning as well as being sensory delights.  This won't upset those who do not recognise or care about the deeper meaning because the gameplay should be crap-hot anyway!  But these games will offer a richer and more intellectually and culturally rewarding experience for any who can pick up the details.

I'm currently finishing my Arts degree at Melbourne uni (already guessed?!) and have concentrated on Cinema Studies. We analyse what is offered to the viewer by the author of a film, looking at characters, narrative, editing, lighting, music and sound, etc, as well as it's cultural and historical context.  And although we get into serious discussion, it is above all FUN while we learn and think.  These elements we study are largely the same as those found in computer games and the two are getting closer each day.  Perhaps this is why they are offering a new subject next year which is purely about computer games.  I was so excited about doing it that I had to go part time this semester because otherwise I'd finish my degree this year and be gone before the subject was introduced!  

One day, I hope to make and play games which can be studied as ART!  After all: the more artistic our chosen form of escapism is, the more credibility it has, right guys?!

October 1999

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