The Arcade: a capitalist commune of indie game development
Located in the the Melvin sub over South Bank, the arcade is a business development environment that's exclusively catered towards independent games developers.
With 57 people working across 19 companies, we've decided to have a chat to people about the fairly more humble beginnings of the arcade, and where it is today.
So Tony Reed is the CEO of the Game Developer Association of Australia, and really the man behind the arcade.
Tony, how did the arcade kick off?
We really kicked off last year, we went to the government, asked for money and quite rightly I think the government's funded a lot of spaces in order, especially ETO spaces in the past, that maybe have more of that.
So, they knocked us back and said prove it.
So, those same developers and I come together and said, well let's, let's just do this thing.
And we did it, and we created the arcade.
So obviously this is a business development specs, and the people are paying to be here.
But where did some of the initial seed funding come from?
So the initial funding came through the GDA, the association that I run and we, we pretty much cobbled this place together.
A lot of friends who have donated which you saw earlier, the donations.
So we had to kind of run it lean and mean.
Mean for, for, for a while.
And what we ultimately did, is we, we did prove that it would work.
Cuz initial companies, you know, moved in almost immediately, started just working together as, as, you know, they would.
Get creative people in one space, always gonna do amazing things.
And it started growing.
It just started growing, growing organically.
And then we went back to, to government.
Particularly to Film Victoria and Screen Australia.
And said, there are things we need to do to make this space better for developers.
And they came, they had a look, they looked at what our plans are gonna be, and they, they helped us out.
And that, that's really the only funding we've had for the, for the space.
Otherwise it's all been us.
The, you know.
The GDN and developers.
We spoke with a few of the devs who've moved into the arcade.
The arcade's fantastic because we, we're surrounded by other developers.
We're surrounded by other people making games.
And so, just small things from like, hey do you have a, a contact with this, you know, this press person, or can you get us an in there, or.
Hey, can you help us out, like we're having problems with this shader.
Or even just being able to sort of walk down and have lunch with a bunch of other game developers and talk here about what they're doing and what you're doing.
You never know when awesome opportunities are going to arise.
And then also everyone going in together and, you know, sharing the cost of this space.
And we don't just have game developers here, we have publishers like Surprise Attack.
And then the GDAA is in here as well, like, providing all their support.
And Giselle who runs IGDA is here so it's just a, it's just a fantastic network.
It's almost like a one stop shop for anything that a game developer so of [UNKNOWN] needs.
Talking with Chris from surprise attack, Chris, what do you guys actually do within the arcade.
We work with heaps of developers, [UNKNOWN] consultants, and publishing.
Company, and so I guess what we bring is a lot of knowledge of the marketing and, and a lot of games that are being released.
But we get a lot from the developers that we work with here, too, cuz everyone shares stories, everyone helps each other out, everybody helps each other test their games.
So, having that breadth of experience and different types of development here really helps each other sharing that information.
I guess just like the people who have got a question like, hey do you how this, fix this prop bug?
Or you know, what's happening on this store, what's happening with Steam?
Everyone can just have a chat, everyone feels very safe with each other.
It's pretty helpful.
Now obviously you've had a bit of success beforehand.
What's it been like working with these kind of newer, just starting out studios?
Have they brought a bit to the table for you to learn from as well.
All the, all the different experiences in the, in the arcade sort of helped build that sort of collegiate experience and, and the new, newer guys bring a lot of energy.
And we give a lo, we had a lot of experience.
So that sorta comes together to create this really nice synergy of, of, you know, sort of help and, and, and the new newcios can, can learn from us and we can get really good ideas from them.
And, and just sort of build the whole thing up.
It's been really great.
It's really useful being in the arcade because a lot of the different people here have really different skill sets.
And we can kind of ask questions from other people and they can answer those questions for us.
It's really a nice kind of sharing environment.
And it's good just having, you know, other game people.
Other people to go to lunch with.
And other people to, you know, hang out with.
And so it's a really nice environment of people doing different things and exploring different stuff.
That's, that's really fun.
And it's good for the whole team.
Makes us feel like we're part of this kind of community.
Developing the arcade, is, it's you're not too far away from someone who can help you solve your problems.
And, you know, we've been solving problems for so long that generally.
It, we end up helping quite a lot.
But the best part about working with all these newer indie people and newer people in the industry is like, they're seeing things from a perspective that we haven't, and that's been incredibly, incredibly valuable.
One of the things that we can now is that, that can be really important going forward is looking at the future game developers.
We have all of these amazing talents in this place.
So much knowledge, so much intelligence and so much creativity.
We're gonna extended the program out to students.
We, we really want to get students, and we want to create, almost a finishing school.
Where we can bring them out of the [UNKNOWN] institutions, and help them, and help them build a portfolio.
And understand how it is, to be in game development.
And what it is.
It's, it's very, very hard work.
And a lot of them don't realize that early on.
And, and get them used to that early.
By the time they graduate, they're ready.
They're ready to hit the market.
And whether it.
To work for another company, you know, to, to intern here, or go out and do their own thing.
And, and that's really what we wanna encourage.
We wanna encourage entrepreneurs, and we wanna encourage that talent to, to have the confidence to build and create and, and know that they can do this.
This is an entry that they're probably already passionate about.
All we need to do is give them the confidence to, to walk in here, [INAUDIBLE] or at least walk out of here saying I can do this.