XR:WA shows how games and VR are infiltrating the workplace.
This post is presented in partnership with the Revelation Perth International Film Festival. Student Edge members get up to $50 off Delegate passes to XR:WA.
Once upon a time, getting lost in the world of Super Mario, Crash Bandicoot or Solid Snake was presumed to be a total time-suck with no real-world applicability. But in 2019, perfecting your virtual talents (and imagining new adventures) is no longer a niche fantasy; it’s basically everyone’s employment future.
Awards-winning game designer Dr. Kate Raynes-Goldie tells Student Edge that when she made her first game at age 14, “that career was not taken seriously at the time.” Now she reckons getting into the games industry is “actually a really good career path.”
Yes, even in Australia.
“Globally, the games industry is worth [$US101 billion dollars], which is bigger than music and film,” she says.
“The benefit of it to students thinking about their career path [is] it’s a growth sector that’s hard to automate.”
That’s gonna be the message at XR:WA, a trailblazing new exhibit at the Revelation Perth International Film Festival, running from 6 – 14 July 2019.
An Australian-first, XR:WA is an immersive virtual and augmented reality experience that will allow participants to see the latest innovative technologies in action.
Besides a 360-degree virtual reality cinema running movies about Aboriginal Dreamtime and the effects of climate change, there will be workshops, masterclasses and a games emporium.
Raynes-Goldie, a producer and guest of the fest, says attending is “really good if you’re thinking of becoming a game designer or developer, [because] you can actually come along and talk to the people who are making the games, play their games, talk to them about their process and really get an insight into what it’s like to be a game designer.”
Festival director Richard Sowada describes the exhibit as “really incredible”, offering “a lot for everybody, including people working in the industrial side of things, not just art and entertainment.”
“Games engines underpin almost everything that we do electronic now, in computers and self-driving cars and artificial intelligence and machine learning,” he adds.
“Rio Tinto and BHP have started using VR for training; like how to navigate huge vessels and machinery. St. John’s Ambulance and a whole range of other health providers and the police are using VR to train people how to operate in emergency situations, and large scale disaster situations.
“I think it’s like the early days of film when there were no rules about what this stuff can do, and how something that’s invented for one purpose in the world of games or technology, by fiddling with the wires under the table, you can take this thing and reinvent the invention and make it do something completely different to what was originally perceived from this software or hardware. And that is incredibly exciting.”
As an example, there are the designers of Opaque Space in Melbourne whose simulated space-walking game got the attention of NASA, with whom they’re now collaborating on training modules.
Sentient Computing, another guest of XR:WA, was even inspired by Counter Strike to use game tech to create safety training for the resources sector.
“They’re probably the biggest employer of games grads in WA,” says Raynes-Goldie.
But games and VR technology can still be used for its original goal: addictive, brain-bursting fun.
Sowada says one of the showstoppers at XR:WA is Ready Team One.
“A bunch of local lads developed this full body VR strategic game experience, with backpack and guns, the whole thing,” he says.
“It’s free-roaming around this very large base, which transports you to the edge of the galaxy on a spaceship, onto another planet.”
So, next time someone says you spend too much time playing video games, tell them you’re just thinking of your career.
Into Virtual and Augmented Reality? XR:WA aims to bring as much of the VR, AI, AR games, alternate realities and associated worlds directly to you with as many exhibition opportunities as they can possibly muster! Student Edge members get up to $50 off Delegate passes to XR:WA.