Well placed for success

In 2012, a group of new graduates from Griffith Film School and the Queensland Conservatorium founded Well Placed Cactus – a digital start up that created games, apps and interactive installations.

Fast forward five years, and the company has just been snapped up by global consulting giant Deloitte.

Queensland Conservatorium music technology graduate Jack Gillespie and Griffith Film School games design alumni Paul Stapelberg and Nic Gomez say the team is “thrilled” about the merger.

“This has always been our long-term strategy – but none of us would have dreamed of this happening when we were starting out,” Mr Gillespie said.

“For an organisation of Deloitte’s scale to bring an established emerging technology team in-house is a huge step forward for the industry, and it has allowed us to get our foot in the front door and take on bigger projects for bigger clients.”

Well Placed Cactus previously collaborated with Deloitte Digital on an award-winning three-storey interactive garden installation for ANZ in Sydney’s Martin Place.

The company also developed cutting edge immersive experiences for the Australian Open and National Museum of Australia.

Mr Gillespie said that after winning Griffith’s Innovation Challenge competition, the trio decided to take a leap and form their own company just months after graduating.

“We used the prize money to pay our ASIC fees and get started,” he said.

“We had nothing to lose, we were all recent graduates and none of us had families or mortgages.

“And to be honest, it was really our only option.

“Brisbane had been a boom town for the games industry, but that all came to an end after the Global Financial Crisis.

“So we worked for discounted rates, and did lots of great work for smaller clients.”

Mr Gomez said the team’s original mission was simple: “we wanted to make cool games”.

As the company matured, the team staked out a position in a relatively new field. They began to design games with purpose – from cognitive testing games for recruiters to educational interactive games for museums, and training simulators for fire and rescue services.

“We rode the wave of technology, and tried out a lot of the new hardware as it was being developed,” Mr Gillespie said.

“It’s really exciting- I believe we can solve some of the world’s really complex problems by using games technology.”

Both Mr Gillespie and Mr Gomez said their time at Griffith had given them a good grounding in the games industry and a network of mentors.

“The best thing about the courses at Griffith was that they fused the technical and creative – and that has been essential to our success.

“And because our courses were taught be people from within the industry, we had a great network of contacts when we graduated.”

Griffith Film School Program Director, Bachelor of Games Design, Mr Gordon Moyes, said the degree gave students the diverse skill set needed to carve out a career in the multi-billion dollar gaming industry.

“The games design degree is designed to equip students with the complex skills they’ll need to carve out a lasting career in the industry,” he said.

“As well as learning the fundamentals of game design, our students can specialise in everything from concept art and 3D computer imagery to game development.”

Mr Moyes said the success of games alumni was testament to the calibre of the course at Griffith.

“We have graduates working around the globe on the industry’s top titles – several of which are developed here in Brisbane.”

“Their talent was nurtured and guided by our lecturers, who include some of the country’s leading game designers and developers,” he said.

“Our students also have fantastic opportunities to collaborate with Griffith Film School filmmakers and animators, Queensland College of Art illustrators, 3D designers and artists, and musicians from the Queensland Conservatorium.”