Creative Industries Centre

Game Art Studies

Graduate testimonial

Ben Kilsby Name: Ben Kilsby
Age: 32
Studied: Certificate IV in Computer Game Art and Advanced Diploma of Screen and Media (Game Art)
Job: Chief Executive Officer, Holopoint Interactive, Game Development Company

What made you decide the gaming industry was for you?

I had been making or modding video games since I was about 10 years old.  It wasn’t until I moved to Adelaide in my late twenties and started studying at TAFE SA in 2005, that I felt a career in the games industry was first within striking distance. As a mature age student I realised what a huge opportunity this course offered in terms of learning and future career outcomes.  During my time studying I realised the possibilities of being able to drive my education towards tangible outcomes. Business development was also a component of the Advanced Diploma, though it wasn’t until a year or two along the road that I identified a niche in the Australian games market – serious games, that my in-the-process of-launching business could exploit. A few years later, I am the co-founder and CEO of my own game development company, Holopoint Interactive.

Can you tell us about Holopoint Interactive?

Holopoint Interactive is an Adelaide based digital media company that creates serious game solutions for industries including transport, music tuition, urban planning and healthcare.

Holopoint was first initiated as a TAFE SA team assignment. After graduating the team and I were able to gain individual employment both locally and nationally before myself and Richard Taylor consolidated Holopoint with the mission to create outstanding serious games solutions.

Adelaide has a history of creating outstanding interactive products, whether it is in the simulation or the game space.  When Holopoint first threw open its doors in 2007, there was literally no other game development studios of note in South Australia at the time.

Holopoint has invested a significant amount of time and effort in creating a scene and the grassroots of an industry here with such initiatives as the Indie Games Room as part of AVCon, arguably the most important industry development platform in the country.  Since this Holopoint led initiative began we now have several up and coming developers with many more on the way.

What are your fondest memories of studying with TAFE SA?

The staff were absolutely fantastic across the board both in and out of the classroom.  I thought getting hands on virtually from the first day was also a considerable bonus.  Many of us had friends who were going into digital media classes in University and they weren’t touching computers for the first six months! Additionally the course seeks to constantly keep its learning materials relevant to the industry. I feel that being a mature aged student helped me grow a strong rapport with the facilitators and course co-ordinators, which helped me to push boundaries in what I could achieve within the parameters of the competencies.  The flexibility of TAFE SA really enhanced the experience for me, and I think it is reflected in the output of our group.

How big is the South Australian games industry currently?  Where does Holopoint fit in?

The game industry here in South Australia is considerably smaller than many of the other states and territories of Australia.  And yet interestingly the movers, shakers and innovators around the country are majoritively South Australian!
It is my belief that our current size and contribution to the national games scene will shift for the better in the next five years as the developer talent here in SA moves from high schools and tertiary education into the professional development space.

Holopoint has been leading the way in South Australia in terms of advancing the future capability of the state with industry development platforms such as the Indie Games Room and consistent dialogue with the State government.  Since our inception, Holopoint has seen many small novice teams grow along side us to now be professional development studios in their own right.

What do you think of TAFE SA as a training provider?

Through constant dialogue with the national game development industry, TAFE SA ensures the relevance of its course content.  It is this agility in the space that makes the course fantastic value for money.  If you work hard, you can be in and out in two years with a high degree of proficiency, and the reputation of this course is only enhanced with all the success stories of previous graduates gaining a foothold in the industry.

What advice would you give a game art graduate?

Be persistent.  Be committed. The games arena is a highly competitive environment across the nation.  Get involved with a mod, participate in the Indie Game Room, make your own game, tweak your portfolio, look at more advanced study, develop an online portfolio – when you do these kinds of activities, you are advancing your skills, knowledge and experience.  The worst thing you can do is do nothing after graduation – or to do lots and tell no-one about it!

Send portfolios and resume’s out across the country and be prepared to move interstate.  If you get knocked back, try and get the HR person to explain what it was that saw you rejected this time around.  Take it on board, thank them and fix it.  Resubmit a month or two later. 

This kind of persistence and tenacity will demonstrate that you are not a piece of fluff but a serious candidate who will be a game developer one day.  HR departments recognise this as a strong and desirable attribute – the ability to take on board critique, refine your work based on that critique and resubmit the work. Over, under around or through – don’t let anything stop you.  If you want this, go and get it. Let’s face it; digital media is not going away anytime soon.  With 95% of kids 15 years old and under playing video games (according to a recent Monash University survey), the future is looking bright.