Digital games development could be a key growth industry in Ballarat following moves from developers and City of Ballarat to create new work opportunities in the industry.
A Start Up Ballarat digital game developers event held in February brought more than 50 young budding games programmers, artists, coders, designers and people already working in the industry together to create new networks.
Those networks have been strengthened with two more City of Ballarat supported meet ups since.
Next week the group is starting their own event with that will run each month an aim to facilitate networkingwith others in the local industry and be a part of shaping the local game development scene.
Game development is definitely going to be a viable industry for Ballarat.Robert Dance, Chaos Shard Studios
Co-founder of Ballarat-based independent game development studio Chaos Shard Studios Robert Dance is the driving force behind the meet ups.
He said the meet ups were integral to growing the industry to educate, create connections for new work opportunities and advocate for facilities to enable growth.
"There wasn't any connection in the industry before the first Start Up Ballarat meet," he said.
"Now I am hoping to formalise the group to tap into some funding and provide facilities for people to do game development."
The group is looking into the possibility of establishing a creative co-working space in partnership with City of Ballarat that will allow individuals to access facilities, software and equipment to kick start their venture into game development.
The group is also looking to establish internship opportunities for game development students with Federation University to increase the number of opportunities for people to follow game development as a career.
Mr Dance said game development could be a difficult industry to crack in to as there was no direct pathway to gain experience.
He and his wife started their own game development studio 12 months ago and are both studying at Federation University while working on their own projects for experience.
The move to set up their own studio came after a decision to make a career change and develop their gaming hobby into a career.
"Back when we first looked into following gaming as a career there wasn't a local community so we didn't have local contacts, but the Melbourne game development community was flourishing," he said.
Chaos Shard studios has created two games that are available to the public and is working on another to be released soon.
Ballarat game developer and chief executive of Dark Shadow Studios Casey Thomas will be speaking at the September Game Developers Meetup on Wednesday about pitching game ideas.
Ms Thomas has experience pitching for funding and hardware for the development of her game Drone Legion.
The game was showcased as the only independently developed game at the Melbourne Esports Open last weekend to 17,000 people and was nominated for the 2018 Esports Title of the Year in the Australian Games Awards.
Ms Thomas also teaches game development at the Ballarat Tech School, a role she said was an example of the industry's growth in Ballarat.
"A couple of years ago there were no roles in Ballarat for a game developer," she said.
"Now I am teaching students how to build games as well as running my own startup company. It is really cool in the Ballarat Tech School to open students up to jobs pathways that they may not have even thought of."
City of Ballarat's draft Creative City Strategy identifies digital games development as a key growth industry in Ballarat.
The strategy says council could provide support to the industry by providing venues and in-kind support for the running of creative skills development programs.
"I absolutely 100 per cent believe games development will grow as an industry in Ballarat," Mr Dance said.
"There are a lot of people working in the space. We just need to get everyone talking together and get some support structures in place for getting products, developed and released.
"Game development is definitely going to be a viable industry for Ballarat."
Anyone can attend the September Games Development Meet Up on September 11 from 6.30pm to 8.30pm at The George Hotel.