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Some musing on Design Aikido Melbourne

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The games industry event Design Aikido was held on Wednesday the 22nd. As a fellow industry designer I wanted to share my views on this event.

Held at a classy little Bar & Club on the Melbourne docklands, it was a good place to hold such an event. The space fitted the 50 odd attendants quite well. Most attendants were industry developers and a small sprinkling of press and students as well.

I myself was fortunate enough to score a free ticket via being the TSumea cameraman. You’ll be able to be my handy work later this month once the videos have been sorted out.

The event started with one of the guest speakers. Mr Chris Avellone from Obsidian entertainment in the USA treated us to an engaging talk on how he approached the story and character design of the games he was a part in creating. Going into detail about the methods in which they also tested game systems.

Breaks between the 1-2 presentations where well spaced. I think letting people out to breathe every 60-90mins was a generally good idea. And it allows some time just to network and hold a conversation with others.

Networking was a core part of this design event; I myself got to speak to many developers from many different companies. Business cards where passed, words where spoken. There was a bar tab which helped everyone relax a little near at the end at the event.

I was actually a little disappointed that I didn’t see more students and passionate people wanting into the industry attend, this event was welcome to them and as I said, the networking opportunity to speak to local Melbourne industry boss’s here was huge.

Other presentations that complimented the two core guest speakers where of varying degrees of quality and the context in which they where spoken.

Some came off as advertisements for a product like game development lawyering and music copyrighting, These two presentations where by no means bad, they where well presented and spoken, and there was people in the room that stood to benefit from such information, but there context within the focus of design is a little bit in question.

A presentation on the subjects of government grants and tax breaks was also quite interesting. Strong points where made for and against the necessity of game development tax breaks and I came out of that presentation with a confidence of the industries accomplishments and capacities without the need of government tax breaks.

A talk made on the publishing side of things was also a worthwhile presentation. We all got an insight into the logical rationale of a publishing business and their stance on movie tie-in games. A think everyone came out of that presentation a little more informed from the publishing side of things.

A commendable presentation by AIE regarding industry education and it’s need to communicate directly with industry developers was also discussed. With the focus just being an official call to developers to offer their understanding and experience into the education sector as a whole to create a more solid learning scheme is something I think we can all benefit from.

And finally the last presentation made by Mr David Gaider from Bioware was an in-depth showcasing on his experiences with writing for games and the systems that go into creating storylines that have choice and conscience actions. Some gems of information from that talk. To bad I wasn’t allowed to record the screen for legal reasons.

Overall no presentation was horrible or detracted from this event, whether you where press, a developer, freelance or a student there was something to learn from the presentations and the as I can’t keep stressing the importance of networking. I think at a price point of $150 and what you got for it, it was a worthwhile event.

Tsumea will be providing video recordings of these presentations later this/next month. So keep your eyes peeled for them. They’re worth your time to watch.

Chris Watts