Every year, hundreds of games graduates prepare to enter the workforce, with hundreds more from cross-disciplinary fields. However, with only a small number of entry-level positions available, combined with a workforce facing professional growth issues nationally, it gives these graduates little hope.
In an effort to tackle this, Mighty Kingdom has opened its gates, bringing in some of Australia’s youngest and brightest development talent.
Last year Mighty Kingdom reached out to Australian games graduates, looking for eight candidates, four men, and four women, to join the studio for an inaugural graduate program. Within weeks, over 200 applications were received – clear evidence of the sheer number of junior developers looking to get more experience in their field.
“high quality of the applicants to our graduate program is a strong indicator of a thriving industry, and limiting ourselves to only 8 candidates was a monumentally difficult task.” Said Philip Mayes, Founder & Director of Mighty Kingdom
Amazingly, all eight of the initial program members have transitioned into full-time positions within Mighty Kingdom. A star example, Kirsty Tschirpig, has gone from a graduate position to part of the leadership team in just under 12-months.
With the program’s second year underway, we spoke with Mighty Kingdom’s General Manager, Dan Thorsland about the successes of the inaugural round, its impact on the studio, as well as the newly commenced second round of graduates now members of the Mighty Kingdom.
Dan commented, “It was amazing to see how quickly the graduates fitted in, adding twenty percent to our staff when we did it really had a huge impact on the quality of the work, the overall culture, the positivity, the energy, it’s just amazing.”
I can sympathize with those who have applied for both programs, as just three years ago, I was amongst hundreds of graduating developers with little to no opportunities available locally.
I can attest to the incredible pressure placed on young people to prove themselves in order to find work in the local region, and how they must do this while competing against unseen levels of overqualified developers, and as they begin to recognize the record levels of student debt they may now have accrued.
We went on to discuss how the program has impacted the studio, it’s team, and how quickly the graduates have become assets to the business.
Thorsland continued, “diversity was really important, we quickly realized when taking in new business that we were able to get a really engaging set of voices that are so close to when they were consumers in their teens. Providing feedback on our products, the right brains to work with, market intelligence, it had a huge impact.
So, we went ahead and hired another eight”
This is a program that has had a marked effect on the growth and success of MK. Thorsland encouraged other studios to follow their lead. Stating “Anyone looking to scale a game dev studio should absolutely look at a training program for junior staff. Apple and Google dropped degrees as a hiring requirement last year, which shows you how even the biggest tech players out there are focusing on in-house training and getting hobby developers to make the leap to pro.
So if you want to do console games, or just a content-rich game, you need a big, diverse team. In-house training and affiliations with education providers are very important.
The tech market is still hyper-competitive for talent, so the best way to get that talent and keep them in your team is to train them and pay them. Ripping interns off is not, not cool.”
We know from our conversations with both local developers, and international visitors at PAX Aus, that the industry shares an innate desire for local studios to grow, perhaps graduate programs such as Mighty Kingdom’s are the way forward.
You can learn more about Mighty Kingdom, and their Graduate Program by visiting mightykingdom.com/graduate-program/