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It was game on for a group of Deakin IT students at this year's Freeplay Independent Games Festival in Melbourne.
Freeplay is described as Australia's longest-running and largest independent games festival. Deakin's School of Information Technology was a Freeplay sponsor and was provided an exclusive opportunity for 10 students to attend the festival. As Sophie McKenzie, School of IT lecturer, explains, the students contributed their time.
'The students were asked to volunteer 10 hours of their time over the two day conference,' Ms McKenzie says.
'During their volunteering, our students experienced many different activities and got to shadow the conference organisers in their activities. When they were not volunteering, students attended the conference talks and also attended all the social and networking events.'
Adam Thompson is in his second year of a Bachelor of Information Technology (Games Design and Development). He was one of the participating Deakin students and says the experience was inspiring.
'Freeplay was a blast. It was really inspiring to get to chat with people who are making incredible games,' Adam says. 'It was also really cool to be able to work with [organisers] Harry, Katie and Ben. To be able to spend time with such talented and professional people was a real privilege. I managed to sit in of a number of the conference talks and panels which were all really interesting and informative. It was great to see how many passionate and dedicated people are in the local indie game scene.
'Something I hadn't expected was the new friendships formed with other Deakin students who volunteered. I now know a few more first and third year students that I might not have met otherwise.'
Ms McKenzie agrees that the festival is a chance for students to network with their peers.
'Freeplay provides an opportunity for students in IT (Game Design and Development) to network with their peers and share ideas and experiences on developing games and entering the demanding games design and development profession,' Ms McKenzie says.
As for Adam, the festival looks set to become a regular event on his calendar.
'Overall it was an amazingly beneficial experience... I feel like game development is actually possible now. I think it's something all game students should try and get along to, volunteering or not. I intend to go next year either way.'
Find out more about Freeplay on the festival website www.freeplay.net.au