Game on for Griffith grads

The Gardens Between. Image courtesy of The Voxel Agents.

Griffith graduates Henrik Pettersson and Anna Zhou are gaining international recognition for their fresh take on games design.

Global recognition

Games design graduate Henrik Pettersson

Bachelor of Games Design alumnus Henrik Pettersson recently won the Apple Design Award for his best-selling game, The Gardens Between.

“I spent the past four years of my life designing this game, so it is a thrill to pick up these awards and to see people enjoying it,” he said.

“I admire the genuine love and appreciation Apple has for design and how they talk, share and promote it.

“The judges talked about the intuitive design, accessibility and the dreamlike world that shines through the art.”

‘We wanted to shake up the industry’

The games designer collaborated on the game with Melbourne-based design company, The Voxel Agents. It won Game of the Year at the Australian Game Development Awards and was also recognised by Apple as the year’s Best Mac Game. The Gardens Between has recently made its way onto mobile phone and iPad, opening it up to a wider audience.

“I hope The Gardens Between can be a game where people can experience deep diving gaming-narrative for the first time- I hope it can help expand the medium,” he said.

“We wanted to be disruptors and shake up the industry a little — this was a call out to the industry that it’s time to grow up and start to explore themes that aren’t exclusively for teenage boys.”

‘It was only possible because of my time at Griffith’

Henrik moved halfway around the globe to enrol in the Bachelor of Games Design — relocating from his home in Sweden to study at Griffith Film School.

“The degree was quite new and the fact that it was based at an arts college with a film school meant that we had quite a wide breadth of artistic craft, skills and knowledge,” he said.

“It was only possible to create something like the The Gardens Between because of my time at Griffith — I had that artistic background, which allowed me to communicate better with my team of artists, designers and composers.”

Best of the best

Fellow Griffith Film School graduate Anna Zhou made Develop magazine’s prestigious ’30 under 30′ list, which recognises the region’s best and brightest games designers.

“It was certainly nice to be named on the list,” she said.

“Design positions are hard to come by, so to be working at this level is really rewarding.

“I’m lucky to be doing a job that I’m passionate about, and it’s great knowing that you’ve impacted someone’s life in a good way – I think people’s favourite games bring joy.”

Industry experience opens doors

Anna is currently a senior designer at Defiant Development, making her way up the ranks after scoring an internship with the company during her final year of study at Griffith.

Games design graduate Anna Zhou

During her time with the company, Anna has worked on quest design and character writing across a range of titles, including the bestselling Hand of Fate and Hand of Fate 2.

“I was very lucky to land an internship there in my third year of uni, and it’s definitely the reason I am where I am today,” she said.

“I worked on the original Hand of Fate during my internship, and at the time, I didn’t realise it was going to be a success.

“I was just asked to play test games, but I realised there was a gap in the game, and I ended up designing a character that players seemed to love.”

Diverse voices

Anna was also recently included in the MCV Pacific Women In Games List, which highlights the achievements of women from across the gaming industry.

“Much like in STEM, there are clearly more men working in gaming than women,” she said.

“I think I bring something different to the table and it’s good to have people from different walks of life in the industry.

“I hope anyone out there who feels that they are too young or old or female or minority to succeed in a particular career can see that it’s possible.”