The mentors for this year’s WordPlay Games Writing Mentorship Program have been appointed, and it’s an all-star line-up.
Budding games writers will learn from the best in the business as industry leaders get primed to share their expertise.
Mentors include: A/Prof. Dan Golding, Deputy Chair in Media and Communication at Swinburne University, the host of Screen Sounds on ABC Classic and an award-winning composer and writer; Alice Clarke, freelance journalist, producer and presenter; games journalist Leah Williams; writer and narrative designer at Mighty Kingdom James O’Connor; Edmond Tran, Managing Editor at GamesHub; writer and curator Jini Maxwell; Brendan Keogh, researcher at Queensland University of Technology and author; and multi-award-winning journalist Rae Johnston. Find out more about the mentors below.
Now open for applications until 7 August, the 2022 program will commission eight emerging writers from Victoria with an interest in digital games to write a feature article inspired or informed by the events of Melbourne International Games Week 2022, which will then be published on the GamesHub website.
Successful applicants will receive one-on-one mentoring and participate in group workshops with a focus on sharing knowledge and learning practical skills in games writing and reporting.
WordPlay is delivered by GamesHub, Melbourne International Games Week and Creative Victoria.
Melbourne International Games Week returns to Melbourne from 1 to 9 October 2022.
The Mentors for Wordplay 2022
Alice Clarke is a freelance journalist, producer and presenter with 16 years of experience. She’s written for many publications including The Age, The Oz, Herald Sun, Kotaku, Gizmodo, Vogue, and GQ and worked on both local and international TV shows as a producer.
As well as writing, she is also the co-curator of the PAX Together lounge at PAX Australia, a space that celebrates minorities in games on both sides of the controller.
He also made the soundtracks to the BAFTA, DICE, and GDCA winning Untitled Goose Game (2019), also the first game soundtrack to be nominated for an ARIA award in history; Push Me Pull You (2016); and the Frog Detective series, for which his score for The Haunted Island (2018) won the APRA-AMCOS Australian Game Developer award for Best Music.
He also co-hosts the popular film music podcast Art of the Score, and in 2018, Dan presented What Is Music for ABC iView and Triple J with Linda Marigliano. Since 2010 he has written journalism and commentary for a wide variety of publications (ABC Arts, Crikey, Buzzfeed, Meanjin, Kotaku), and a video essayist with 1 million views on YouTube. From 2014-2017 was director of the Freeplay Independent Games Festival.
Rae Johnston is a multi-award-winning journalist with a focus on the geekier side of life. Her work appears across television, radio, podcasts, online and print media. Rae is also the producer and host of top-rated technology podcasts Queens of the Drone Age and Hear+Beyond.
Rae was the first Science & Technology Editor for NITV at SBS, the first female editor of Gizmodo Australia, and the first Indigenous editor of Junkee – where she established an award-winning gaming vertical.
Rae is a founding mentor with The Working Lunch program, supporting underrepresented entry-level people in games. She is also an External Assessor with Film Victoria, helping to fund independent games.
Rae’s work has seen her awarded the Lighting The Way prize for advocacy and support of the Australian games industry at the Australian Game Developer Awards. The Australian Games Awards named her both Journalist of the Year (2018) and The Gamechanger – awarded for challenging the negative misconceptions about video games throughout her career.
Brendan Keogh (he/him) is a researcher at Queensland University of Technology in the Digital Media Research Centre, and the co-organiser of the Squiggly River Game Collective. He has been active in the Australian game making community for over a decade as a critic, educator, researcher, and amateur gamemaker.
He is the author of A Play of Bodies: How We Perceive Videogames; Killing is Harmless; and The Unity Game Engine and the Circuits of Cultural Software (co-authored with Benjamin Nicoll). He’s written about videogame culture for a range of outlets including Polygon, Edge, Overland, and Unwinnable.
Jini Maxwell (they/them) is a writer and curator based in Melbourne, Australia. Jini works as a curator at ACMI, where they also co-host ACMI’s women and non-binary gamers club, and organise ACMI X’s Works-In-Progress night for screen creatives.
They contribute a regular games criticism column to The Saturday Paper, alongside other independent projects, and most recently, they guest-edited an issue of Cordite Poetry Review, themed GAME, alongside Rory Green. They previously worked as a content lead at Gameshub, where they founded the Wordplay mentoring program. In 2021, Jini was awarded Best Gaming Journalist at the Samsung Australian IT Journalism Awards.
James O’Connor is a narrative designer at Mighty Kingdom, where he has worked on Ava’s Manor, Star Trek Lower Decks Mobile, Conan Chop Chop, and several upcoming games he is not allowed to talk about.
He has worked as a senior writer for Hyper magazine, the games editor for Mania magazine, a news reporter for GameSpot, and a freelance critic and journalist for dozens of publications, including IGN, Vice, Edge, PC PowerPlay and Kotaku Australia.
In 2016 he completed his Master’s thesis, “The Character Feels That Way, Not Me”: Player Driven Narrative Experiences in Grand Theft Auto IV. He has also worked as a lecturer and research assistant and was involved in the early stages of curation for ACMI’s Play It Again project through Flinders University.
Edmond Tran has been entrenched in games media for over 14 years and is the managing editor of GamesHub.
From 2008 to 2020 he was part of the renowned global games publication, GameSpot, acting as the Australian Editor from 2015. Prior to that, he served as a Senior Video Producer, winning multiple awards for original programming. He has been nominated multiple times for the Best Gaming Journalist and Best Reviewer at the Samsung Australian IT Journalism Awards.
Edmond has been on the ground to cover ten Tokyo Game Shows, eight E3 Expos, and every iteration of PAX Australia. He’s run multi-day live stage broadcasts, written and edited countless reviews, previews, and features, and conducted interviews with the likes of Shuhei Yoshida, Mark Cerny, Phil Spencer, Nobuo Uematsu, Shinji Mikami, Warren Spector, Alexy Pajitnov, Koji Igarashi and SUDA51.
Leah Williams is a games journalist who’s written for publications including GamesHub, Kotaku Australia, Gizmodo Australia, IGN, and The AU Review.
In 2021, she was nominated for the title of Best Gaming Journalist at the Samsung Australian IT Journalism Awards, and was nominated Best New Journalist in the year prior.
Her passions lie in telling untold stories, and uncovering relics from gaming history. She writes frequently about the future of video games, and how emerging technologies will impact sustainability.
How do you apply for WordPlay 2022?
Application details can be found in the following article:
What are the key dates for Wordplay 2022?
Applications for the WordPlay 2022 games writing mentorship program will close 11:59pm, 7 August 2022.
Successful applicants will be contacted the week commencing 8 August 2022 and will be announced the following week.
About the WordPlay 2021 cohort
The inaugural WordPlay program saw six talented individuals create a host of fantastic articles. Since completing the program, some participants have continued to write for GamesHub as well as for organisations like ACMI and Samurai Punk.
We encourage you to read their excellent work from WordPlay 2021:
- Claire Osborn-Li – God, give me a body! How Virtual events and museums can be better
- Emily Spindler – Gamifying grief: learning how to say goodbye through games
- Percy Ranson – The Hero’s Journey and Monomyth: Does it work for all games?
- Alivia Mantel – Representation in video games starts offscreen
- Jam Walker – How COVID helped tabletop RPGs go mainstream
- Nidula Geeganage – Australian Game Developers are Perfecting Simplicity
The mentors for WordPlay 2021 were Jini Maxwell, Dan Golding, Rae Johnston, Brendan Keogh, Alice Clarke and Edmond Tran.