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Get ready Snapchat game

Gaming has always been a passion for 35-year-old self-confessed tech nerd Matt McRae, but creating a Snapchat game for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) was something he never dreamed he would accomplish when he began pursuing a career in interactive and visual design just four years ago. 

To the average person, Matt McRae’s interactive media skills have always been impressive, however completing further studies with TAFE Queensland helped him to to retrain and reskill, giving him the experience and knowledge to pursue his dream career as a video game designer.

“We’re basically tech hippies, technological engineers and artists, which is the real beauty in what we do. We start with a blank screen and then finish with a game, which is actually a fun, kind of addictive process,” said Matt.

Initially starting a Diploma of Interactive Digital Media before transitioning to a Bachelor of Games and Interactive Design, Matt says his four years at TAFE Queensland awarded him access to countless work-integrated learning opportunities and projects.

“TAFE Queensland’s curriculum is unique in that it is highly practical and hands-on, meaning students finish their qualification with a diverse professional portfolio of works. This was absolutely the key driver behind my decision to study there, as opposed to an alternative education provider like university,” he said.

“In just four years I have worked across 12 work projects relevant to various industry disciplines, including the creation of four polished games that I designed using the same high-tech programs currently used in industry. It’s been an amazing experience.

“Industry professionals actually approach TAFE Queensland to get their students involved in projects because they recognize TAFE Queensland as a leading education provider in this space with curriculum that is very much aligned with other major education providers internationally,” he said.

Having most recently created a Snapchat game for GC2018 with a team of two game programmers, Matt said tackling new challenges was just one of the many bonuses of the contract he describes as “incredibly rewarding”.

“I had never created a game for this platform before so it was a huge challenge, but absolutely a great opportunity to do something different and expand my skill set. I went into this with 3D and tech art being my preference and strength, but the brief for this Snapchat game requested pixel art, which was a whole new style of gaming design I had to learn,” said Matt.

“I was pushed to do things far beyond my comfort zone, working to an incredibly tight deadline and taking on roles I had no experience in, which has in turn helped me to develop a wide range of skills and a broader understanding of both the interactive design industry and the roles within it."

“Another major lesson learnt was the value of being flexible in what we do. There are new programs and processes emerging in the industry every day and you have to wear so many different hats in interactive design, so it’s so important to be comfortable with taking on new challenges and opportunities to up-skill. I now have the skills to create games using pixel art, which will position me as a capable and flexible game designer in the future,” he said.

An avid reader during his childhood, Matt recalls the moment he first fell in love with the concept of gaming as a young boy.

“When I was a kid my mum used to work at our local convenience store where there was this arcade machine. We didn’t have much growing up so I had never even touched a game controller, but I would go home and dream about playing these games; I was just fascinated from the get-go,” said Matt.

“Up until then, I had always been a book kid, but to me, video games are basically just an extension of books with their narrative, characters, and the concept of exploring a life outside your own. They’re the same form of escapism, games just add an element no other type of media has in that they are interactive, which is something I find really interesting.”

Moving forward, Matt hopes to explore edutainment game design and development, and has partnered with a team he built at TAFE Queensland to start their own business, with negotiations underway with their first potential business client.

TAFE Queensland General Manager, Karen Dickinson, said TAFE Queensland is committed to their students’ future development and is thrilled to help facilitate highly valuable practical learning opportunities for students, particularly the GC2018.

“TAFE Queensland’s partnership with the GC2018 means we can facilitate hundreds of world-class work experience and employment opportunities across a wide range of industries,” said Karen.

“The opportunity to work at the GC2018 is an experience we are beyond thrilled to offer our students, as just one of the many ways TAFE Queensland is able to bridge the gap between tertiary education and successful careers for our students,” Ms Potter said.

TAFE Queensland has a long and proud history of providing practical learning experiences and partnering with the GC2018 is another way in which TAFE Queensland continues to Make Great Happen for Queenslanders; enabling them to do extraordinary things in front of a global audience.