The 2016 MCV Pacific 30 Under Thirty

Joel Van Daal
The 2016 MCV Pacific 30 Under Thirty

It's back for a fifth year!

The MCV Pacific Thirty Under 30 aims to recognise the brightest young talent working in the video game industry across Australia and New Zealand.

The below is the class of 2016.

Following a Diploma of Creative Arts (Game Design), Matthew is in the final stages of a Bachelor of Games Development (Games Design). He is planning on completing a Masters by Research in the field of game design and working as an academic alongside his commercial work.

Matthew has been passionately a part of the hobbyist development community for almost a decade and is now starting to see his career flourish through his games media work. His work has seen him champion the industry and has spoken out against the treatment towards games journalists and creates a safe space for people regardless of their race/sexuality/religion.

Claire has successfully established and managed an indie startup, releasing two titles to Steam in the process, all before finishing her Bachelor Degree at Media Design School. One of these titles was awarded the Best Student Game award at the inaugural Play by Play festival in 2016. Claire moved straight from studying to employment at one of New Zealand's largest game studios, PikPok.

Included in our 2016 Women In Games, and awarded a scholarship to GDC by the NZGDA, three of her papers have been published to Gamasutra in the last 12 months, two of which were featured on Game Career Guide.

A frequent speaker, ambassador, and volunteer in and for the industry, Claire has made her focus is the success and growth of others and the overall well-being of the game development community.

Kathleen is the most popular, by both subscribers and views per month, female Twitch streamer in the ANZ region, featuring in the top 10 overall for the region. She has run multiple charity streams, raising over $44,000, the latest of which raised over $10,000 for Save The Children.

With a passionate following across her media and social media platforms, Kathleen has built a globally recognized brand in Loserfruit, even creating her own merchandise range.

She has spoken at events in an effort to pass on knowledge to up and coming content creators and has even passed on her knowledge on how to run a charity stream.

Alice returns to our list for the second time, previously featuring in 2014. Clarke has been a long time voice for games and diversity in the industry acting as a game reviewer for the Sunday Herald Sun since 2009 and providing a regular opinion column in the Herald Sun since 2012.

Outside of her day-to-day work Alice co-curates the PAX Aus Diversity Lounge and co-runs the Melbourne Planeswalkers for Diversity Magic the Gathering playgroup with her wife.

Her work as an evangelist for diversity in the industry saw Alice recognised in both the 2015 and 2016 Women In Games Lists.

Alayna has worked as a games journalist and critic, a narrative designer and game developer, and a lecturer and researcher. She has released several game titles independently, including Enthymema, Fairy Tale, and the Icecream Parlour, and continues to work on a number of yet to be released game titles.

A common theme on this list, Alayna has tirelessly acted as an ambassador for the industry and diversity, speaking at events such as PAX Australia and Epic Diem, as well as academic conferences such as DiGRAA and JCSG. Alayna seeks to make games and the games industry more diverse and inclusive, particularly through representation of women, queer perspectives, and new voices. Additionally she acts as an Editor on PlayWrite.

In a laundry list of achievements in 2016, Alayna’s star shone brightest when she founded Queerly Represent Me, a database and resource hub about queer representation in games. The database features 700 game titles that can be viewed in multiple formats. The site is the culmination of hundreds of hours of work, with the database containing more than 50,000 words of information. Astonishingly, all of this was done in her ‘spare time’.

Krister Collin is an award-winning game developer who is a designer primarily, but it also equally talented as a programmer and as an artist, most notably with his Game Jam 2012 title, A Shot in the Dark. The game was entirely devoid of visuals which aimed to simulate the experience of blind people, taking home the Excellence in Audio and the Accessibility Awards that year.

Outside of paid work, which saw him working been working at Into Science, a Sydney-based educational software company making interactive virtual worlds designed to teach kids science, Krister has been the sole organiser of Beer and Pixels for the last year and a half. He is an active member of the organising committee of the Sydney Interactive Games Deveopment Association, and has been an heavily involved as an evangelist for the Global Game Jam and bi-monthly Hectic Game Jams in Sydney. Additionally he continues to volunteer for GCAP and MegaDev as part of Melbourne International Games Week every year.

Emre has worked his way up rapidly at the Opaque Media group, starting out as a texture artist to now being a project lead and game designer on two projects (Earthlight and Genesis) that have attracted international attention, including that of NASA.

Deniz has been crucial to the Australian VR developer community, both with his work on the two titles and as an influencer for the VR world.

He speaks at major events beyond the games industry, advocating for our importance. He has helped launch programs for VR developers, is active in the community with advice including mentoring and speaking at universities.

Prior to joining the ranks of SIE Australia, Kevin enjoyed employment at V-Net Solutions working with retailers and providing them with the analytics to help drive their business forward. It was this skillset that sparked the attention of the SIE Aust. Management team who welcomed Kevin to the business and encouraged the application of Kevin’s retail specific skills at a more macro level. Kevin has helped to re-define the importance of trends and market studies that the business utilises to inform its strategy implementation.

Kevin has taken great steps forward in the last 12 months by developing new reporting strategies that are aimed to bridge the gap between digital sourced reporting and physical sourced reporting; providing a meaningful overview of the growth seen within the digital market.

While supporting the marketing team with continued dialogue around key industry insights, Kevin leads communications to the broader SIE Australia team by providing regular updates and analysis, both current and future gazing on changes in the market.

Susannah, a Digital Designer, a Game Developer, and a Sessional Academic teaching in the Digital Design program at Curtin University returns to this list for the second straight year. Her research interests focus on the ability of video games and digital media to communicate ideas and concepts across cultural and/or social divides as well as the capacity of these mediums in educational contexts. Susannah has lived and worked in remote Indigenous communities, and written on and explored collaborative approaches to game development across these divides, as well as the potential of video games to share knowledge and bridge epistemological gaps.

Over the last 12 months Susannah has been speaking with teachers and policy makers to champion the use video games in the classroom in order to increase student engagement, and explore and assess Australian Curriculum outcomes. She has been particularly focused on the opportunities that teachers have to use mainstream games, rather than purely educational ones, which can have major positive educational outcomes. This research is particularly important to remote Indigenous communities, as well as students who are not engaged with traditional educational settings where games are able to show dramatic increases in student engagement.

Susannah has also began working on 'Hannah', a game that uses the ability of games to share knowledges and experiences. Focusing on domestic violence, Hannah looks at the importance of family and friends in the journey of a domestic abuse survivor as well as providing practical advice and language, allowing players to use these skills in real life situations.

Liam also returns to the 30 Under Thirty for the second consecutive year. He has spent the last 12-months tirelessly working to make the Australian industry a better place.

Through his work with the inaugural GX Australia and later Game Connect Asia Pacific, he has helped grow the industry in new ways, continuing to be a vocal advocate for diversity in the sector. After a hugely successful inaugural event in February, Liam went on to ship Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear, spoke at the Game Developers' Conference in San Francisco, keynoted the new Play By Play festival in Wellington, New Zealand, worked on a variety of games titles around Australia, ran another successful Kickstarter for GX Australia 2017 (raising $71k) and organised an entirely new student conference during Games Week, GCAP Loading.

His work helped GCAP itself grow by 200 attendees and raised a record amount of sponsorship for the conference and brought in an impressive lineup of international speakers.

Shannon makes his way into the Thirty for a third straight year, with 2016 his biggest year in the industry to date. Grixti took Press Start from a one-person blog three years ago, to a website that is now owned by the largest media company in Australia.

Following extensive discussions with Southern Cross Austereo, the media company decided to bring acquire Press Start to sit as a brand alongside legacy brands Triple M and The Hit Network. Shannon’s personal highlight for the year was seeing their Pokemon Go video hit in excess of 10-million views, with a reach of over 30-million. This sat alongside a number of other achievements including a number of key articles covering local game development.

Gugich is New Zealand’s top Female streamer who has made a name for herself hosting eSports events and presenting a strong representation of Women in games whilst cultivating a wider understanding of Gaming and Geek culture to build a cohesive and supportive community.

She has become a strong role model for NZ Gamer's, showing that no matter what your passion you can be successful. Lorien has continued to give back to the community, bringing many up and coming streamers under her wing - supported them ceaselessly in pursuit of their success.

Widely recognised by Microsoft’s retail partners as one of the leading category managers, Dallas’ in depth analysis of the accessories business has helped their key accounts transform increasing their attach, revenue and profitability.

In 2016 Dallas delivered massive growth to see Xbox One accessories in its most profitable position life to date. He launched the critically acclaimed Xbox One Elite Controller, driving the Australian business to the number three market World Wide in terms of attach to Console.

The fully qualified medical doctor who has practised in both the UK and Australia emerged in 2016 as a guiding light for mental health in the games sector, being recognised in 2016 Women In Games List.

In 2016 Hazel co-founded Checkpoint, a non-profit organization to connect mental health with video game technology. She has spoken in multiple talks and panels at GX, AVcon, Unite, GCAP and PAX. She travelled with Checkpoint to games and pop culture conventions all over Australia to set up wellness spaces for convention-goers. Hazel is improving the lives of game devs and gamers alike with her work.

Fresh off her inclusion in the 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 – Games, Lisy makes her way to our list for the first time.

A member of the newly named, Studio of the Year, League Of Geeks, Kane has impressed with her work as a producer through and beyond the launch of 2015’s Armello. She is also the co-founder of Girl Geek Academy, a startup aimed to educate and introduce women to technology and games.

The two time MCV Pacific Women In Games inductee extends he community work with numerous speaking appearances at events across Australia including; PAX Australia, GCAP, GX Australia, OZ Comic Con and the Human Rights Festival.

Sally is a unique individual who straddles a number of niches within the Games industry - an audio designer with a specialisation in acoustics and psychoacoustics, working in the VR Industry. She is an active speaker and ambassador within the Games and VR industries, advocating and representing VR, Games, Sound, and Gender Diversity at local, state, national and international events.

Recognised in our 2016 Women In Games list, Kellaway transitioned from game audio to VR audio in 2016, showcasing and presenting her work at local and international events. Aside from her professional pursuits, Sally is a community leader, having started numerous discussion and meetup groups for Australian and Melbourne-based professionals across Game development, Audio and Virtual Reality Technologies. This includes the Women and Non-gender-binary people in VR group for Australia, and is also the Co-chair of the International Game Developers Association’s Special Interest for VR/AR/MR. Sally is also co-leader/organiser of both the VR Audio and Game Audio Meetups in Melbourne.

2016 also saw Sally launched the Virtual Reality Content Creators of Australia - a national network for VR, AR and MR content creators to connect, share and grow the industry in Australia. Sally’s contributions to the VR industry have and will galvanise the industry in Australia.

In 2013 Sofie joined up with Louie Roots to launch SK Games, a rough-edged studio focused on making physical game experiences and arcade machines, a reality. Since then she has worked behind the scees as a Producer, Manager and Creative Support Person.

Last year, Sofie helped establish Bar SK in Melbourne, a space that combines a casual bar with a gallery for showcasing indie and artistic game. Mather was also heavily involved with the planning and execution of 2016 Perth Games Festival and was a driving force behind the Festival’s community launch party and the developer-focussed training “Unconference” event, which she also ran in 2015. Sofie also worked to support the Fire Tech Camp Australia startup, both coordinating parts of their Western Australian program as well as running school holiday workshops teaching kids about robotics and tech.

Sofie also worked alongside Dr. Kate Raynes-Goldie to run the Level One coworking space for game developers in Perth. She runs she venue, website, assists developers on-site, and showcases local game-makers with her “Dev of the Day” features. Most recently, Sofie joined the Stirfire Studios team as their Community Manager.

Luke is the first and so far, only non-specialist agency member to make the MCV Pacific 30 Under Thirty. The avid gamer cemented his position in the industry last year, leading Ogilvy PR to securing the Agency of the Year award at the 2016 MCV Pacific Awards.

In the months that followed, Luke spearhead and executed a flawless PR program that included the launch of the Xbox Onesie, Xbox Boss, Phil Spencer’s Australian tour, the launch of Forza Horizon 3, the first Australian Xbox Fan Fest and of course, the launch of the Xbox One S.

Luke’s work has helped Xbox deliver arguably their best year to date in the region.

Ally is widely known as an ambassador for games and all things geek culture. The professional cosplayer has worked with the likes of Microsoft, Blizzard, Hi-rez, ReedPOP and more to develop frameworks and best practices for working with the cosplay community.

Additionally, McLean has also coordinated events like Haven Expo's indie games section, worked as a community consultant for CD Projekt Red on The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, a role that took her internationally, was a guest speaker at GX Australia, lectured at GCAP 2016, produced and hosted a variety of stage shows and discussions at PAX Australia, appeared on television programs such as Sky News to advocate for games and gaming culture to a broader audience. Ally has also fundraised for her focus charity SpecialEffect, who build custom consoles and controller for gamers with disabilities, as well as offer free accessibility consulting to game developers.

In 2016 She started at Hammerfall Publishing managing communications on Warhammer 40,000: Regicide in January, moving into a Producer role, before being promoted to her current role - Project Lead, managing a team of developers to create original content games.

Lucy has been highly decorated by both MCV Pacific and our sister site, featuring in both sites 2015 30 Under Thirty as well as the 2015 and 2016 MCV Pacific Women In Games Lists.

Following time with Ubisoft Blue Byte in Germany, Morris returned to New Zealand as an independent game developer and co-founded indie studio Group Pug. Morris founded the annual Asylum Jam in 2013 and co-founded Women in Games NZ in 2014. Morris has spent the last several years as a lecturer in the Bachelor of Creative Technologies at Media Design School, leaving In late last year ahead of a move to PikPok as a Senior UI Designer.

Lucy has acted as a member of the executive committee for Global Game Jam and regional organiser for ANZ - responsible for the rebranding and graphic design of GGJ 2016. She also co-founded and has been the chair of the New Zealand chapter of the IGDA since 2015, being voted on to the global board of directors in 2016 - the youngest director to date. Morris also organised and ran New Zealand's first international games festival, Play by Play, together with Robert Curry and Peter Curry, with the event to return this year.

Before even completing his studies Tom had already co-founded his own game development studio and shipped two games, one of which won 'Best Student Game' at Play by Play 2016. During his time as a student his team was accepted twice into the MDS Accelerator. He also worked on the remake of the critically acclaimed indie game Dolly with Blake Wood. Most recently he has started work on the E3 feature game: Ashen.

Outside of his professional work, Tom has volunteered as a student ambassador for the past three years. He has constantly been an advocate for Women in games providing workshop assistance at Media Design School as well as Girls in Games and the Programming workshops at Play by Play. Beyond his local work in New Zealand Tom has been a volunteer at Game Connect Asia Pacific for the past two years.

At only 21, Tom has already blazed quite the trail and is set to be one of the biggest future contributors in our industry.

Amy joins this list for the first time after featuring in our Women In Games list last year. After graduating with a Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication in 2010 from Massey University, Potter worked with in a number of agency and in-house roles before launching her own creative studio, HelloMissPotter. By 2014 she was a full-time freelance Creative Director.

In late 2014 Potter co-founded Leaping Tiger – a social application for gamers designed to connect players with their local gaming ecosystem. Now working full-time as Chief Operating Officer of Leaping Tiger, she finds herself wearing many hats—most often lead UX designer, product manager and digital marketer. Leaping Tiger now has a team of five people in their Wellington office.

Since founding Leaping-Tiger.com and LeapingTiger.tv, Amy has been a member of numerous startup and tech panels, and has often speak about design and startups at local meet-ups. Additionally, Amy writes blogs and game reviews (including recent articles for The Spinoff), and stream both creative and gaming content on Twitch.

2016 was a huge year for Amy and Leaping Tiger as they raised seed round through NZ Angel investors, launch their weekly games industry news talk show on Twitch, Leaping-Tiger.tv, and organized the Leaping Tiger Gaming Lounge full day community event at Armageddon Auckland in September.

Louise is another debutant to the MCV Pacific 30 Under Thiry. After working as a Buyer for Coles supermarkets, she moved to Brisbane to be closer to family and started working for EB Games/Zing Pop Culture as a Loot buyer.

Since moving to EB, she has been an integral part in the massive growth of the ZING Pop Culture retail franchise in Australia. Louise has assisted in the opening of 20 new stores alongside the launch of the retailers website and has worked as part of the team ThinkGeek to bring in new products into the Australian market. In 2016

In 2016 she attended San Diego Comic Con generating new business and developed keen insights into the global pop culture market.

Holding a Bachelors of Laws and Finance from the Australian National University, Jonny has brought his experience from time at Ernst & Young to the industry, joining as IGEA’s Legal & Policy Lawyer.

Roses works closely with most major publishers of video games in Australia on a vast range of different legal and policy matters. Jonny also laisses with Government on a number of policy issues, particularly gambling and classification. In 2016 he conducted a presentation for relevant Government stakeholders on the issue of gambling and games, ensuring that they understood the issues, and how gambling and games interact. He ensures that that Government, regulators and policy makers are well aware of the views, thoughts and circumstances of major video game publishers and developers, to help inform law and policy creation in the future.

Additionally, Jonny spoke at PAX last year on a panel on the growth and prospects of eSports in Australia, discussing what would legally be required for eSports to be recognised as a sport and to receive Government funding and support.

Jennifer was one of only four people to graduate (out of 25) from the first ever game design course run by SAE in Berlin, receiving honours for her Bacherlor of Arts, and was already working in the industry before graduation. After working at numerous studios which were famous throughout Germany, Scheurle moved to Australia in early 2015 beginning work working as a Game Design Teacher at the Academy of Interactive in Sydney. She was quickly promoted to Lead Game Design Teacher for the Sydney campus.

That same year she began work on multiple indie games including PAX Australia Indie Showcase Winner Objects in Space, as well as her own game: the upcoming Philosophy of Ten.

A prominent and high profile voice and advocate in the industry, she was included in our 2016 Women in Games List, and champions causes ranging from working conditions and avoiding crunch time to better game design philosophies and diversity in game development. Her work has recently been covered in Daily Life, Polygon and The Guardian

The self-trained community manager, returns to the 30 for a second consecutive year after featuring in the 2016 MCV Pacific Women In Games and a honorable mention in Develop’s 30 Under 30.

In the past 12-months Siu has continued to speak at events such as GCAP, PAX Australia and Girl Geek Academy. She laid the foundation and set up the ground work for EA Mobile’s influencer program for EA mobile.

Siu serves as a positive role model to women looking into the field of games development, and the surrounding tech industry and has been recognised by the industry and peers as one to watch.

Chris is synonymous with eSports in Australia, having worked with some of the biggest names in the PC scene since 2011, where he was one of the first Tt eSports community managers globally. From organizing the biggest prize pool Counter Strike Source tournament in Australia in 2010 to competing himself, Smith has forged his own brand.

In addition to his current role at Corsair (their first full time Australian employee), Smith provides consultancy for eSports expansion for overseas and local investment interests, including the likes FOX Australia and NVIDIA. Chris is currently working behind the scenes as a founder of an association dedicated to provide a governing support of grass-roots and professional eSports in Australia.

Smith offers free advice and mentoring to multiple eSports teams in Australia, assisting them with contract negotiations, expansion advice, marketing ideas, sponsor acquisition and more. He also provides similar (services for various PC modders at no charge.

After serving as a combat designer for Ubisoft in Germany on Settlers of Anteria, Michael moved to NZ to teach game design. Since relocating Vermeulen has earnt a reputation from the large amount of community work he has done in collaboration with the NZGDAA and IGDA NZ.

Michael co-owns NZ studio, Group Pug as well as runs his own game design consultancy business, Ludos Consulting.

In 2015 he was elected to the board of the NZGDA where he continues today. He has mentored many student development teams to Steam releases and taking their game ideas to an entrepreneurial level. He also helped set up the first tertiary games accelerator program in NZ to a success of 3/3 titles released on Steam.

A passion volunteer and advocate, Michael has become a shining light for diversity and improving diversity in the New Zealand industry.

A ‘Manager of Virtual Worlds’, Webb, brings awareness to Defence and the wider Australian Government about the games industry, and the potential of utilising games technology and their practices. He has also been a driving force within the simulation community and works to bring both industries closer.

Adrian was introduced to the industry through studying and working at AIE from 2007 - 2011, finishing up as their student liaison officer. In 2011, he moved to Defence and immediately took up the charge to introduce the games industry and its technologies and practices. Not without its hurdles, five years on and working in the Australian Defence Simulation and Training Centre (ADSTC), we are now seeing the barriers break down with a greater acceptance of Games engines, VR, agile development and a better understanding of the games industry with Defence.

Through exploring the emerging technologies such as VR and AR, Adrian has adopted the practice of rapid prototyping and assisted with a number of trial projects, showcasing their benefits and capability to a wider non technical audience.

Adrian is prolific speaker to both the gaming and simulation industries and works heavily in his own time to promote the serious games aspect across the region, which recently culminated in the Australasian Simulation Congress, being the Serious Games convener for 2016.

Involved with PAX Aus since the inaugural show in 2013, Jono Whyman is the man behind the scenes. He manages the operational aspects of the show, including the relationships with the venue, contractors, builders, and government.

In 2016 Whyman delivered yet another amazing PAX Aus, with his hands touching nearly every aspect of the event, from high level discussions with the Victorian Government and their stakeholders to facilitating the requirements of the freeplay area.

A true representation of the person behind the name, Jono has worked tireless to deliver an event that pushes the industry forward.

Honorable mentions

Catherine Benstead | Jane Buckle | Kieran Caetano | Ben Cooper | Emma Graham | Jack Hudson | Jessie James | Ben O'Brien | Adam 'Pez' Perry |  Kyle Stefanovic | Leonie Yue |

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