Melbourne International Games Week has come and gone. After taking a week off to rest and recover, I’m finally ready to reflect. My recap is going to be a bit different this year. Instead of going over exactly what I did and whom I met, I want to talk about the lessons I learnt during Games Week, and what it meant to find me.
I went into Games Week knowing one thing; I wanted to learn. I wanted to absorb all the knowledge from all the amazing developers around me. I wanted to grow as a person, and I wanted to figure out what on earth my position is in the industry. Last year, I would have said writer. The year before, artist and designer. Now? Well, I’m starting to feel confident in my abilities as a Producer and Community Manager. But no longer do I feel doubt that I don’t belong in the industry because I can’t code or draw as well as others. Nor do I feel I must use my friends as a crutch. I found myself flying solo many times throughout the week, and genuinely enjoyed meeting new people, whereas a year ago, I would have been terrified.
I feel my place in the industry has very much been solidified as a Community Manager and Producer. Imposter and Tall-Poppy Syndrome are still very much apparent, but after talking to some amazing people, I feel like I may have finally found where I belong. GCAP was good for this. I learnt so much. Most of the talks I went to focussed on production and marketing. I remember thinking in most of those, ‘Yes, this is where I want to be’. I also learnt the importance of self-care. There was a large movement this year that invited us to look after ourselves, take care of one another, and put our mental health first. It was important to reiterate that, especially in a week that I found reflects the industry’s unhealthy crunch culture.
Yes, while Games Week is fun, important, and full of passionate people, it is also intense, harrowing and straight up uncomfortable. From early starts, to late nights, many attendees are just expected to be at all of the events, in order to take advantage of the networking possibilities. These events are usually loud, filled with alcohol and can seem quite isolating to those who aren’t used to large crowds. I found myself craving smaller, more intimate get togethers, with both old and new friends. And that’s what I did, which helped keep my sanity in check. Not that I didn’t enjoy parties like the AGDA’s or No Arcade. They were fun, friendly and bustling with amazing people. However, as our industry continues to grow, so does the pressure to network and ‘put yourself out there’. Ultimately, knowing that it was okay for me to skip out on events, surround myself with friends and take care of myself was what helped me survive this hectic week.
2016 is also the first year that I found myself hosting an event. New Arcade, a multiplayer party part of Contours, brought together many developers from different crowds, and it was awesome to see them all playing games competitively and cooperatively, and just having fun. It was there I realised that this is something I can do. I helped make this thing a part of reality. Another eye opening moment in such a crazy time.
So yes, there was definitely good and bad. But one thing that Melbourne has always done is look after one another. Throughout such an intense week, I found people banding together, encouraging others to keep learning, growing and ultimately stay strong. And we should be proud of that. Melbourne, we are welcoming, friendly and powerful. To take from the GCAP theme this year, we are all giants, and I am so proud to call this industry home.