All About Gaming With Playtopia Game Developer Ben Rausch
34-year-old Ben Rausch is a South African game developer, illustrator, animator, gamer and a DJ for gaming parties – he even runs a record label! It goes without saying, he’s got one of the coolest jobs in we’ve heard of. The Cape Town based creative gave us some insight into SA’s booming gaming industry.
What makes you so passionate about gaming?
“Games have always been appealing to me. Over the years game design has become an increasingly awesome space for people to combine play and creativity. It’s become easier than ever before for regular people to create games.
“We’re seeing an incredibly vast, diverse collection of beautiful, weird and personal games being made and played. It’s so good to see this happening, and it’s super exciting to think about where things are heading next.”
How did you get into the industry?
“I started playing around with game development in 2009; some friends and I had a weekly meet up where we tried to figure out how to make games. We were all pretty clueless, and tools seemed pretty limited back then; needless to say we didn’t get very far in our quest.
“I finally started properly in 2014. Shortly after moving from Jozi to Cape Town, I went to the first Super Friendship Arcade (SFA) and was totally blown away. The people involved were super welcoming and encouraging, too! Fast forward a few months to the second SFA and people were playing my first game Kick In The Door, I’d become a game developer!”
Best experiences industry so far?
“There’ve been some amazing highlights! For my game ‘band’, Team Lazerbeam, we’ve consistently been blown away by how our games have connected with total strangers. They’ve been exhibited at amazing events, and the response has been way past anything we expected.
“Seeing people enjoying our games over Youtube has been awesome. On top of that, it’s been fantastic to see some of those youtube streams getting thousands, sometimes millions of views.
“In April I was flown over to Berlin to deliver my talk The Shape of Punk to Come at the incredible A MAZE Festival. This festival is really the epicentre of the art games revolution: I was beyond honoured to be invited to speak at it.”
Gaming and partying? Tell us more.
For Ben, it all started with Super Friendship Arcade, a Cape Town based community that puts together unique gaming parties. “Super Friendship Arcade was started by two local devs, Peter Cardwell-Gardner and Richard Pieterse. They threw their first party in 2014 and SFA quickly became a central part of the local, alternate game scene.
“The impact of SFA has been significant – it’s amazing to see how many superfriends have gone from being players to developers! We’ve also been able to collaborate with kindred spirit from around the world: games that started life at SFA jams have [been promoted by incredible companies] like SK Games (Australia), Bit Bash (USA) and The Hand Eye Society (Canada).
“Locally, the scene is vibrant and awesome, but there’s so much more room for growth. I really hope an event like Playtopia will help us develop even more diverse, awesome communities of gamers and developers.”
Games we should be looking at in 2018/2019?
“The upcoming creature farming game Ooblets is probably the one game I’m most excited to get on my Xbox!”
What’s the future of gaming is in SA career-wise?
“Right now, the business of making games is a very unpredictable one. This is true locally and internationally, so it’s tough to say what the future holds. Currently, all market places are constantly flooded by new games, most of which are not made with much love or care. The result is that many great games don’t get the attention they need and don’t break even on the thousands of hours invested in them. It’s becoming increasingly tough for people to build stable careers making games.
“From that perspective, it’s a tough industry to be a part of, but at the same time I’m optimistic about the future of SA games. Based on industry surveys, we’re seeing year on year growth, with more people working full time on games. I’m hopeful […] that we’ll see game development become a viable career path to many young South African creatives!”
Ben will be speaking at PLAYTOPIA, the 3-day indie games and playful media festival taking place in Cape Town from 30 November – 2 December 2018. PLAYTOPIA will be showcasing local and international independent computer games, interactive and digital art, talks, panels, workshops and an awesome music line-up.
To enter to WIN one of 10 double weekend passes to PLAYTOPIA, make sure you are following Men’s Health on Instagram (@MenshealthZA) – we will check 🙂 – and fill in your details below. The competition closes on 20 November 2018.