The Interactive Skills Integration Scheme (ISIS)

The Australian Games Industry is facing significant pressures to remain relevant, both locally and overseas. In recent years, the industry has experienced the closure of many major local development houses and the ‘letting-go’ of hundreds of highly skilled employees. Of compelling interest to many industry observers is the opportunity that exists for individuals possessing high-end skills within the interactive media industries to apply their knowledge of the interactive or game-play environment into ‘non-entertainment’ industry sectors. The ISIS program, funded by DEEWR’s Workforce Innovation Program is a two year industry development project that Justin Brow says will model the interplay of interactive media expertise with ‘non-entertainment’ industry sectors.

Transforming Australian businesses through Interactive capability

Background> – a necessary shift in business models
It is widely identified that the Australian Games Industry is facing significant pressures to remain relevant, both locally and overseas. Over recent years, several factors have seen a dramatic impact on our traditionally ‘fee-for-service’ industry. Fundamentally, this is due to an increased reticence of international publishers to release big budget titles to Australian development companies, seeing the closure of many major local development houses and the ‘letting-go’ of hundreds of highly skilled employees across the country. Differing business models are emerging as many professionals in this space redefine their careers.

With the advent of App Stores and the rising popularity of casual gaming through social media networks such as Facebook, the business model for the industry has shifted significantly. And now the NBN roll out will deliver not only a major platform for large step change in interactivity - in services, learning and living – but also a high demand for interactive business models and expertise. There is no doubt that this burgeoning industry sector presents enormous opportunity for innovation and intellectual property creation

Increasingly, local developers no longer operate at the whim of international games publishers (such as Microsoft, Electronic Arts, Konami and Sony), instead, they are now able to deliver their own originally-developed Intellectual Property to millions of customers across the planet. Handheld game development companies such as Melbourne’s Firemint and Brisbane’s Halfbrick are two standout examples of how local organisations are today excelling in the international games space.

Integration of Interactive Media skills into ‘non-entertainment’ industry sectors
Of compelling interest to many industry observers is the opportunity that exists for individuals possessing high-end skills within the interactive media industries to apply their knowledge of the interactive or game-play environment into ‘non-entertainment’ industry sectors. Examples of ‘integrations’ which have occurred between teams of interactive entertainment media professionals into ‘non-entertainment’ industry sectors include Simulations in Defence (such as VBS2 and ARMA created by Newcastle’s Bohemia Interactive), ‘Games for Health’ (such as stroke rehabilitation using the Wii console – an area recently supported by NBNCo CEO Mike Quigley) and ‘Educational Games’ (such as ‘Mathletics’, currently used widely in Australian Primary schools).

The ISIS program, funded by DEEWR’s Workforce Innovation Program is a two year industry development project modelling the interplay of interactive media expertise with ‘non-entertainment’ industry sectors. Drawing on the advice and input by a highly skilled and knowledgeable ‘Industry Expert Group’, the ISIS team will review the current international landscape and explore how Australia can situate itself to best capitalise on future opportunities.

Deliverables

Research
Cross-Integration Case Studies
Working with expert Post-Doctoral researchers (from UTS and QUT), ISIS will undertake thorough international research identifying examples of how interactive media skills have been applied to non-entertainment industries to this point and present detailed case-studies on a selection of those most relevant to the Australian market.

Business Transformation Tools
Examples of business transformation tools (eg. Equip’s ‘Better By Design’ work for NZ Gov), will be explored and modelled to create a template to facilitate the integration of Interactive Media skills into non-entertainment industries.

Curriculum Review / VET-University Articulation Report
The ISIS team are currently undertaking an extensive review of educational and training offerings throughout Australia. Of particular focus will be current level of industry engagement with curriculum development and delivery by industry practitioners. The VET-University Articulation Report will investigate the role each learning model helps shape Australian graduates for the Industry.

ISIS Integrations
A significant aspect of the ISIS program will be managed ‘integration’ demonstrators of Interactive Media in non-entertainment industries. These pilot studies will bring together experts to explore opportunities for the application of Interactive Media capabilities to the industry sectors involved and deliver (and test) working prototypes. The project will be seeking to identify industries in which the integration of interactive skills could have a transformative and evolutionary effect.

Student Placements
Bolstering the integration pilots while seeking to develop effective methods of workplace-embedded education, selected students will be attached to each the integration pilots undertaken. These students will act as ‘self-reflecting agents’ to assist the program’s development and investigation, and result in a recommended approach for future workplace-embedded education processes in this burgeoning industry sector.

Senior Staff Mentoring
The ISIS program will work with existing games development companies and business mentors to increase opportunities for local practitioners to guide their organisations into the burgeoning area of cross-industry interactive media applications.

ISIS is a collaboration between the Creative Industries Innovation Centre (CIIC), the
ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCi) and
QUT's Creative Enterprise Australia (QUT CEA)

For more details or to discuss how you can get involved with the ISIS program, please contact Project Director Justin Brow – Justin@60Sox.org 0413 411 744