Melbourne International Games Week Is Absolutely Stacked This Year

Melbourne International Games Week Is Absolutely Stacked This Year
Image: Untitled Goose Game

This article has been sponsored by the Melbourne International Games Week to keep you up to date on everything going on at the event.

Melbourne International Games Week (MIGW) is looking a bit different this year, thanks to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The Victorian Government-backed celebration of video games, and the Australian industry that has grown around it, is transitioning to a digital-only event as is customary for 2020.

MIGW will run from October 3 to 11 this year, and, as always, there’s a ton of interesting insights from across the globe, virtual talks, forums and networking sessions, showcases of Aussie-made projects and highlights to pay attention to. 

The headline industry event will be Game Connect Asia-Pacific (GCAP), MIGW’s equivalent of the Game Developers Conference that runs from October 5-7.

GCAP is excellent if you have even just a passing interest in video games. It’s a massive fountain of knowledge about how games are built, sold, marketed, and all the problems — technical, mechanical, procedural and otherwise — studios face along the way. I attended last year’s GCAP, and there was an incredible amount of cool stories, including the use of machine learning in a mobile card game, how iTunes helped build the Untitled Goose Game reactive soundtrack, and the incredible struggle behind Objects in Space.

This year, Untitled Goose Game is coming back to MIGW. Dan Golding, the composer who cleverly pieced together Debussy for The Goose, will be giving the closing keynote speech for this year’s GCAP event. Dinosaur Polo Club’s Tana Tanoi will also talk about the launch of Mini Motorways — the Kiwi studio’s sequel to the hugely successful Mini Metro — and the pressures of a short development cycle and being a launch title for the Apple Arcade subscription service.

Some other highlights from the GCAP schedule include:

  • ART PIPELINES AND PHOTOGRAMMETRY – A talk from two Wicked Witch developers about the photogrammetry process for sports titles, like the AFL Evolution series.
  • FUNDING THE FUTURE OF AUSTRALIAN GAMES – A talk from the CEO of Mighty Kingdom, one of South Australia’s most prominent studios, about the future of local game development funding and the impact of major publishers starting to return to the Australian shores.
  • THE IP GAME: FORMATS AND TERRITORIES – A chat from lawyer Cam Rogers, a specialist in the field of entertainment and digital law in Australia, about the challenges around intellectual property, protecting rights and the challenges that can emerge when working across multiple territories.
  • VC IN INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT 101 – What does venture capital funding in video games look like? That’s the thrust of Archie Stonehill’s chat, who has worked in private equity firms in Europe, London and the United States.
  • THE JOURNEY OF LEARNING TO WEAR MULTIPLE HATS: FROM AAA, TO MEDIA, AND ENDED UP AS INDIE – A chat from the director of Coffee Talk, the Indonesian-made indie game about being a barista that was one of Steam’s top games this January. Mohammad Fahmi was also the former editor of Tech in Asia, so he should have some interesting insights about media and video games from both sides of the aisle.
  • SUPPORTING THE VIDEO GAMES INDUSTRY IN A PERFECT WORLD – A panel featuring state and federal industry representatives talking about their vision for supporting the video game industry in 2021 and beyond.
  • THE MUSIC & SOUND OF WINDBOUND — AN AUDIO POST-MORTEM – The music and sound of Windbound is one of its most charming features, and Zander Hulme will be breaking out exactly how it all came about.
  • FOUR LENSES FOR DESIGNING MORALLY ENGAGING GAMES: LESSONS FROM MORAL PSYCHOLOGY – A talk from multiple academics and writers about morally engaging game design, as well as the findings of a decade-long study into moral decision making in video games. Should be some great findings.

The opening keynote will also be given by Trent Kusters from League of Geeks, the studio that just secured a multi-year publishing deal with Private Division for a new IP. The talk is mostly about internal culture, but there should be some interesting lessons and insights from Armello‘s development — and the growth of League of Geeks over the last several years — along the way.

If you want to listen to any of the GCAP talks, you’ll need to buy a ticket here — although tickets are only $2 this year, with Melbourne developer Big Ant Studios covering the cost of tickets for all attendees. (The $2 is being donated towards the Ready Foundation.)

On October 8, MIGW will once against host the world’s longest running indie festival, Parallels. It’s a one-night only festival celebrating some of the most experimental, unusual and quirky indie titles in Australia. And you never know where some of those indie games will end up — last year’s Parallels featured Heavenly Bodies, an indie title which would later be shown off during the first PS5 showcase. The Frog Detective series and Way to the Woods were also featured.

This year’s digital showcase will feature 9 Australian games, and it’ll be streamed through YouTube so everyone can join in. There’ll also be a cool browser-based online space that viewers can play with, called the Freeplay ZONE:

In the Freeplay ZONE, attendees are able to interact with others in a social text-based chat environment, move around the virtual venue using a customisable pixel-art avatar, watch the live-stream in a dedicated theatre room, and play browser-based games that are curated and exhibited within the space. The ZONE is accessed via a web browser, no additional downloads or extensions are required, and is not paywalled. For 2020’s Parallels, with RMIT’s blessing, we’ll be recreating a pixel-art version of The Capitol, allowing attendees to view the live stream from within the ZONE. Attendees will be able to chat, mingle, and play games before and after the event.

Think of it like a pixel-art version of an art gallery, except its for video games and you’re doing the whole thing through your browser. And you can still check out the Freeplay ZONE for yourself, or at least what the version rigged up earlier this year was, right here.

Other events to look out for include:

  • Australian Game Developer Awards (October 7): The AGDAs celebrate the best and most innovative projects from Australia over the last year. (Disclosure: I participated as a judge in this year’s awards.)
  • Girl Geek Academy (October 3-10): The academy will be running free online workshops for girls aged 6 and over throughout MIGW.
  • Lena Raine: The BAFTA-nominated composer best known for her work on Celeste, Guild Wars 2 and Minecraft will be giving the opening keynote speech.

For more information about Melbourne International Games Week, and how you can enjoy and tune into all the festivities, head to the official site.

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