Melbourne International Games Week (MIGW) is almost here, and with it comes the return of the Games Connect Asia Pacific Conference (known as GCAP) at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from 2-4 October 2023.
GCAP is Australia’s biggest game development conference, and hosts a packed three days of panels, speakers, and networking opportunities for those working in the games industry. Each year’s conference focuses on a theme, and this year’s theme is Empower — in particular, empowering developers to “achieve their vision for themselves, their teams, their art, and their technical skills”. This theme was chosen in the wake of new and exciting opportunities for growth thanks to a changing local game dev landscape, recognition of Australian games on a global stage, and new funding schemes.
The full 2023 schedule of panels, keynotes, and speakers for GCAP is now live, and for those planning to attend (or watch the keynotes via the IGEA Twitch channel), there’s an almost overwhelming lineup of things to see and do.
We’ve rounded up the most unmissable panels we think you should check out this year – whether you’re attending GCAP to learn, network, or get amongst the Asian Pacific game development community.
Creating An Eerie Atmosphere For a ‘Cozy’ Fishing Adventure Game
Tuesday October 3, 11:00am – 11:50am AEDT
Helmed by Black Salt Games’ 3D Art Director, Michael Bastiaens, this GCAP talk delves into the creative process behind worldbuilding for the world’s spookiest fishing adventure game, DREDGE. Bastiaens will discuss how art and design elements can be employed to create unease and a sense of tension in a game that otherwise superficially seems peaceful and cozy. If you’ve been wanting to create an unsettling vibe out of seemingly innocuous settings and situations, this is the panel for you.
VicScreen Presents: GCAP Pitch
Wednesday October 4, 9:00am – 11:00am AEDT
This workshop hosted by Lisy Kane, Senior Producer from Kepler Interactive (and co-founder of Girl Geek Academy), allows developers to present a 5-10 minute pitch of their game to a live audience, and receive feedback from an experienced panel on how to nail that pitch and get their game funded. This workshop is limited capacity, with IGEA starting an EOI and selecting a variety of teams to take part – so get in quick if this sounds right up your alley.
Reaching Beyond the Indie Bubble
Monday October 2, 2:00pm – 2:50pm AEDT
While game development is undoubtedly about technical skills, a great narrative, and a solid team, branding and marketing is equally make or break for getting a project off the ground. This talk will look at breaking beyond the indie bubble and outside of developer circles to market your game to the wider community through the use of content planning, events, and social media, all run by Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft Mobile Social Media Manager, Cassandra Hoglund.
Musings to Masterpiece: The Visual Journey for Stray Gods
Monday October 2, 12:00pm – 12:50pm AEDT
Ben Ee, Art Director at Summerfall Studios will take the audience through the “visual odyssey” of Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical, looking at the art of the recently-released title in a small chat — and given his near-decade of industry experience as a concept artist and illustrator (including on projects and for companies such as Unity and Wizards of the Coast), this is bound to be an interesting one.
Indigenous Culture and Games: Re-visited, Re-amped, Re-upped
Tuesday October 3, 2:00pm – 2:50pm AEDT
Game Designer and proud Yarrer Gunditj woman Phoebe Watson spoke at GCAP on the topic of Indigenous representation in games four years ago, and this talk revisits that topic “with a whole new understanding of what it means to include her culture in the digital space.” The presentation aims to highlight the challenges and concepts studios must consider when working with Indigenous representation and culture in video games, as well as a snapshot of the state of the industry in Australia currently. Watson will also be joined by Elijah McDonald, Game Designer for Guck as she discusses her learnings from the last four years working in different interactive media roles locally and abroad.
Capturing Emotion Without Localisation Costs: Designing The Artificial Languages of Solium Infernum and Jumplight Odyssey
Tuesday October 3, 12:00pm – 12:50pm AEDT
Stephan Schutze, Creative Director for Sound Librarian and a veteran in game audio production (he literally wrote the first book on audio production for VR and AR) presents an interesting option for game devs looking to include recorded dialogue but struggling with the mounting costs of localising this for many audiences and languages – speaking gibberish. Discussing both Solium Infernum and Jumplight Odyssey, Schutze explores building artificial languages for both games while still conveying emotional states and furthering narrative and player experiences – taking the Simlish effect through to other projects not just for the benefit of universal use, but also for dynamic design, short deadlines and last-minute changes.
There’s plenty more where that came from, exploring everything from sound design, narrative, art, UI building, and marketing – so no matter where you sit in the industry, there’s likely a panel perfect for you. If you’re planning to attend GCAP, what panels, workshops, and talks do you think are unmissable this year? Let us know in the comments.
Lead Image Credit: GCAP
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