Still Curious is on mid-season break, returning in August.
Carl Leducq - games producer and podcaster | S1E4

October 06, 2021

Carl Leducq - games producer and podcaster | S1E4
Play Episode

In this episode: Why following your curiosity can give you a competitive edge. The concept of ‘action buddies’ and the importance of putting yourself out there and getting something done. Overcoming doubts. Different ways of getting into the games industry. Going from writing the monthly newsletter for the NZ Game Developers Association to being on its board. Different approaches to games for education. Finding your community or creating it.

About the Guest: Carl Leducq is a production co-ordinator at games studio RocketWerkz in Auckland, New Zealand. Carl is a board member of the New Zealand Game Developers Association and also has his own podcast - Zero to Play - where he interviews various people in the Game Development Industry to deconstruct what a game is, why we play games and what the future of gaming is going to look like. [Carl's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carlleducq/ Twitter: [at]carlscontent]

Recorded 28 September 2021

Links:

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About the Host: Danu has been thinking hard about education, technology and society for 30 years. His ambition is to start a company that offers holistic learner-first experiences that set the soul on fire. He is based in Auckland, NZ and is currently working as a consultant on research information systems, academic performance and games for education. [Danu's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danupoyner/]

Music: Kleptotonic Swing by Tri-Tachyon

Transcript
Danu Poyner:

You're listening to the still curious podcast with me Danu Poyner. My guest today is Carl Leducq, who is a production coordinator at game studio rocket works in Auckland, New Zealand. Carl is a board member of the New Zealand game developers Association, and also has his own podcast zero to play, where he interviews various people in the game development industry to deconstruct what a game is, while we play games, and what the future of gaming is going to look like. I met Tom earlier this year after discovering his podcast, and that experience is partly the inspiration for me subsequently starting this podcast. In this episode, we discuss why following your curiosity can give you a competitive edge, the concept of action buddies and the importance of putting yourself out there and getting something done. Karl shares his thoughts on overcoming doubts, different ways of getting into the games industry, and how he went from writing the monthly newsletter for the New Zealand game developers association to being on its board. We also discussed different approaches to games for education, and the power of finding your community or creating it. Carl's enthusiasm and energy really comes through during this conversation, and the conversation could easily have gone for much longer. I hope you enjoy listening to it. It's Carl Leducq, coming up right after the music break on today's episode of The still curious podcast. Hi, Carl, thanks so much for coming on the podcast. Great to have you here.

Carl Leducq:

It is my pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Danu Poyner:

Cool. Well, let's get straight into it. So you're a production coordinator at a game studio in Auckland called rocket works. Could you tell us a bit about what that involves? And I always like to ask people if they can explain what in this case, being a game producer is to like a 10 year old version of yourself.

Carl Leducq:

Totally. Yeah, I'll try keep these answers snappy. And then if you want me to go into more detail, just let me know. Sure. Yeah, so production, the production department of games is huge. Because to make a game as incredibly complicated, it requires programmers, artists QA, and then if you're shipping a game requires marketing. And then when you're building a studio, you need HR and like, you know, everything that a business needs and production are there to just kind of help manage the communication, manage the tasks, the meetings, because there's constant cross department issues, even communication within teams and just kind of keeping track of Sprint's and work to be done. Over the next few weeks. They require someone to kind of be that person. And that's kind of what the production department does in, in games. And that's, that's what my role is. So I I am currently working with the the art department and we're a team of just over 20 people, which include tech artists, concept artists, 3d modelers, animators, character riggers, it's um, you know, it's a big team, all these people this is their, like career path, and I'm there to help just kind of facilitate the communication and, and I love it, because I'm not a programmer, I'm not an artist. I found kind of my niche and production where I love helping people solve problems on a daily basis and put out fires and help build efficient processes. And, and that's exactly what the production department do and I've fallen in love with that. So So yeah, that's what I do on a on a daily basis. Awesome. That's a great answer. Thank you. I guess if I could summarize that a little bit it sounds like you're you're helping everyone. Keep talking to everyone else and actually get things done. Yeah, yeah. That's a good way to put it. Nice. All right. Well, you mentioned a few interesting things that I'm gonna come back to later but I just want to zoom out for a bit and ask you about curiosity and learning since that's why we're here what role would you say curiosity plays in your life and how does it shape decisions you've made or paths you've taken not taken? Um, I think the word curiosity is probably actually one of the most important words to me in my life. The fact that your your podcast is called still curious. And just the conversations that we've had in the past I I could talk about this for hours. I think curiosity is a main kind of thread through through my life that's led me to where I am today. So I don't want to get to like waffling and end up in here, but but I think it all started When I just started becoming curious about it's interesting because my career path started in film, and then it led to games. It was starting to film and then that led to content creation and then led to games. But this has been been this common thread where I learned through my curiosity how to edit montage as of Call of Duty for clips that I was when I was playing in high school. So I learned how to self edit through my curiosity and passion for playing games, wanting to put music to it, and and wanting to kind of make these cool clips. And I kind of interpreted that as a passion for editing and storytelling. And that kind of women took me down this path of wanting to study film and become a director, and a screenwriter. And, and that was the kind of career path I felt most passionate and curious about. And I kind of went deeper into that for a few years. And then after struggling to find a career path, I, I realized that this kind of storytelling thread was really interesting to me. And I ended up learning how to, to just like film basic videos, and I was really passionate about YouTube and Instagram and in the early days, and that led to me wanting to pursue a career as like a videographer and a content creator. And, and then I found an opportunity to work in a game studio when I was kind of just looking for some stable income because I really struggled to be a freelancer. And after getting an opportunity inside of game studio, I realized just how much how many games I played growing up, and how, how much that was a huge part of my childhood. And I'd never really considered that as a career path. And then when I thought back to these edits that I was making, you know, games were the backbone of that kind of curiosity as well. So it kind of all comes back to the same thing. But I do have my curiosity to thank for, for me just kind of following that, that gut feeling that instincts that I had of, you know, what I want you to do, what was I really passionate about? What was I having fun doing? What put me into like that state of flow. And I've really tried to follow that, that feeling. And I do feel like I suffered a lot with doubt early on, where I didn't feel like I took enough action. And I've really kind of turned that one ad. And I feel like I'm taking so much action and every area that I'm doing, I'm trying not to overthink it. And that's only I've learned that through spending so much time that I feel like I've wasted by not kind of going deeper into those curiosities when when I have those those feelings come up.

Danu Poyner:

Wow, there's a few powerful things in there. I'd love to dig into if that's okay. You mentioned that you got into film first Did you have a plan A for your life before that? Or was that always the plan A What were you thinking about it that way.

Carl Leducq:

So this was you know, I was in in high school. I was in my my final year, in year 13. And I really had no idea what I wanted to do, I was just, you know, trying to get good grades, which, you know, I wasn't a straight A student, I just, you know, was trying my best to, to work hard. I did struggle with things like homework and found myself playing games instead, you know, to find myself committing and just studying I just I think I just struggled with the, the kind of studying environment and that kind of process I think I'm a more hands on kind of person. But But when I when I kind of found my passion for film, I also realized that the people who succeeded in the film industry were the people who put themselves out there who produced short films on the weekends who knit worked really well, it wasn't so much how good you were, it was just about finding the right people doing the right things, and then just putting yourself out there. And that kind of really aligned with my personality, someone who wanted to just like do stuff. And I didn't find like I was intelligent, or a prodigy, you know, in any sense and feel like there's any anything else I could go off other than just doing over and over again. And I found that that the more I did, the more I was rewarded, and the more opportunities arose. So I just kind of kept falling down that path, which is all about curiosity and not about like knowledge and education. I feel like it's very interesting. I kind of see those as two, two polar opposites in a way.

Danu Poyner:

Okay, let's let's dig into that. A little bit more. That will be fascinating. But I guess what I'd like to ask about is you may And a few times now about being hands on with your, with your learning, and I'd like to understand a little bit about how you go about doing that. How do you like to learn what does being hands on involved for you?

Carl Leducq:

Yeah, um, so both in the film industry and in games, they're, they're these things called, like 48 hour film challenges or game jams, the, what they usually refer to, and that's usually where people get together for a weekend, there's like a special theme given and then you have to produce something in 48 hours. And that's usually a small competition, a chance to get together with some friends and make something and to me, that is the perfect like scenario of, of putting yourself out there and getting in getting something done. Because it's, it's in those moments that you, you really learn. There's this interesting quote, that's like, like, knowledge and skill are two different things. And I feel like knowledge, knowledge is acquired and is important. But that turn that knowledge into a skill, you need to kind of apply, like, follow, follow those ideas and put them into something tangible. And that's when it gets converted into skill. And you gain skill by doing things like game jams, and fried out challenges rather than watching, you know, a behind the scenes of Lord of the Rings, I feel like, you might gain some some knowledge. But I think that skill is really what I I found value and kind of trying to find, especially for industries that are creative or rooted in, in the internet, where it's constantly evolving, and you kind of need to learn how everyone's operating and how everyone's communicating as it's, it's changing every every few months. So it's not something you can read in a textbook that was written 20 years ago, and no, you know how to succeed, it's something you need to just kind of operate in that in that same area. And if that makes much sense, but um, yeah,

Danu Poyner:

no, I think so. I mean, one of the things that, that strikes me about the games industry, in particular, at least as an observer, and I guess, tech and creative as industry that you say more broadly, is that the what? What is the social currency, the credentials that matter is less about, you know, what school? Did you go to? What qualification? Do you have that it is? What have you done? And what what have you produced? What have you made? Is that a fair assessment that said,

Carl Leducq:

Yeah, Yeah, I definitely think when if someone during an interview, has no experience, like having delivered any project, even if it's, you know, the smallest, like, project that you can think of that just having gone through that experience of finishing, saying, from beginning to end, I think, gets a lot of respect during interviews, it's, it's, it's something that I think, puts you above the rest, if you can prove that you are used to taking action and trying to kind of, you know, make games. Whereas if you've played, you know, 1000s of hours of games, if you've watched a lot of documentaries and things like that, that doesn't really translate into being a good employee, and like communicating with other people, and then I felt there's so many skills that that you need that are seen, or that you gain when you do small projects, or any sort of project that you've delivered, as opposed to having studied for, for several years.

Danu Poyner:

So how does that translate in your situation as a as a producer, because as you mentioned, you're not a programmer, or or artist or designer? So if it's about showing what you've made, productions, a little bit more intangible. How does that work?

Carl Leducq:

Totally. I mean, I'm kind of going through that journey. Now. One thing that I'm I'm trying to do is work on some, like side hobby projects, where I bring some talented individuals that I'm connected with, whether it's a programmer, an artist, an environment artist, a sound designer, and then have a concept that I can help put together and bring past the finish line. And I think that's how I can prove my skills as a producer as putting together a fake budget, making sure communication and tasks are clearly laid out. And that there's, you know, meeting scheduled, I think that that's how I can prove to myself that I'm using my skill as a producer, and that I know would be valued by someone, if if I was being hired as a producer, I could I could point to this, like that experience as a way to show that my skills as a producer, are being used for this project. But it's interesting because not only on that front, but as a producer, you're kind of looking at who you want to work with as well. And and And that's when you look at people who are good communicators and people who are good at working with other team team members and things like that are also intangible. But I feel like as a producer, you're kind of looking for those people that are curious, you're looking for the people that aren't just really skilled as a as a programmer, or really skilled as an artist, but people that are actually passionate about games, passionate about what's happening in the industry, what kind of changes are happening in the in the field that they're working in, and, like innovating on their craft, not just someone that's, that's been in the industry for 20 years, obviously, someone who's skilled as sought after, but if that person can't work together in a team and kind of create that, that family, like camaraderie feeling, and to actually make the project feel like a good time, then then a producer like myself might not hire someone like that, that doesn't gel well with the rest of the team. And things like that. I think curiosity play a big part is you want to find those people that have a similar strand of curiosity with the project that you're working on, so that you can work together on that. And I think Yeah, I do think that is an important part to distinguish not only in my role as a producer, but as a producer, wanting to hire other people for a project as well.

Danu Poyner:

Is that curiosity that you're mentioning and looking for? How do you recognize that in other people if it's more than something different from skill and experience?

Carl Leducq:

Yeah, um, I was thinking about this before before the call and I do think curiosity and passion are kind of for me in any way In any case, are quite aligned. If I find myself following my passion, I feel like I'm following my curiosity and I'm going somewhere to learn more and to to grow. And what I truly believe as anyone who's more passionate about something anyone who's more curious about something is going to succeed from someone who's not curious at all about that thing. But you know, for example, let's say the games industry is doing really well at the moment there's a lot of opportunities a lot of projects being funded if if someone went into the games industry wanting to make money and wanting to make a project that you know look like Angry Birds or look like candy crush or you know whatever the successful title is that you want to emulate but you don't have the kind of the passion for games as a medium and and how you can take the medium to the next level. I feel like you wouldn't succeed if you lacked that curiosity and that passion for for what games could be in you like if you don't ask yourself those questions on a daily basis, then you won't succeed compared to someone else who is going to kind of grow with the industry and I think that's a way i can i can that's the way I process curiosity and to find that in someone I do think it is quite difficult knowing what kind of questions to ask people to kind of get that out of them. But I think once you've found someone that has that, that's proven to show that they're curious about something you can just see them light up you can see them come out their shell, you can you feel like the like you're communicating with a human to another human, you know, it's not robotic anymore. It's not stale, it's not saturated. It's like alive, it's it's thriving, and like that, that I feel like is rooted in what curiosity is, to me is that feeling of being excited, and that thing that gets you into a state of flow. And that's what I love finding and others and I haven't done much hiring as in my like, career path as a producer. But in the future, I hope to be able to be in an interview and then define that and in a potential hire. That's that's my, that's my dream. And I'd love to get to that moment.

Danu Poyner:

Awesome. I'm sure you will. It's it's a really powerful moment, when you see someone really open up that way and connect with them as a person. It strikes me that that kind of moment doesn't happen nearly often enough in formal education settings. And I want to come back to what you were saying about opposing, like opposing ways. You mentioned polar opposites before and I just wanted to hear more about that.

Carl Leducq:

Yeah, I don't know. I just feel like when I when I start thinking of, you know, things like just to two opposites like slow and fast. I would attribute education to being slow curiosity and passion to being fast and Like all these all these kind of opposites were obvious like, I'm a very just I think because I haven't I haven't found the way that like traditional education has provided value to me in my career yet like I I don't want to be too negative about it but just for me personally, I do feel like it's it's it's not something I found out how to have like I can't find how to have a relationship with education yet it's it's very much opposite to a lot of the the values that I try and operate on on a on a daily basis, like very action orientated. And try not to overthink things, and things like that.

Danu Poyner:

Made I've been working in in education for two decades, and I still can't question about value half the time. So I understand as a, as a self taught learning, I'd really curious to hear more about what your experience is of doing that and how you go about learning? Where do you have moments of clarity and insight? Where do you go to find information? is it and how does it work?

Carl Leducq:

Yeah, that's a really good question. I think, you know, your your curiosity can can take you down so many different random rabbit holes, you know that that might be seen as a waste of time, but but if you're really kind of curious about it, like, for example, I've gone down a few rabbit holes of like crypto, currency and blockchain and I'm very much not an expert in the area, but I found myself getting getting lost. And in asking myself, like, what it could mean for the future of technology and the economy and things like that. And I've just, I've gotten lost in articles, whether it's like articles on medium. Twitter is another area that I can easily get lost in. And just kind of going through different threads of interacting with different people, learning about different things, finding people that are experts in different areas, and then just kind of going through their content. But when I was younger, and if I think back to when I was, for example, learning how to edit videos, and like capture footage from my Xbox and things like that, it was all through YouTube verse that first started from me being inspired by like a video that I saw that someone had edited. And that was all through YouTube as well and, and finding a community of people online, that were doing similar things that were engaging with this content. So not only was I inspired, but I found a community of other people that were inspired. And then that led to me, you know, it could be seeing a video in a comment section, it could be me just searching keywords in YouTube to then find a channel that focused on like certain effects for the videos, and then I'd go down a rabbit hole of of doing that. And then the next week, I might be inspired by like, an intro sequence done in 3d. And I would go down this rabbit hole of what software they used, how they created it, I'll try to recreate it myself realize how hard it is and then just step back and then not go down that rabbit hole anymore. And that's how I've kind of I think YouTube has been a great just because I think video content is a lot easier to digest. I, I just feel like I connect with video content a lot more. And I learn a lot more from it. But it's interesting, where lately, I haven't really had that much time to go deep into certain topics of maybe that nowadays and like when I think back on this year and times where I've, I've kind of gone down that curiosity rabbit hole as usually through like a podcast and listening to a podcast when I'm watering the grass or going shopping or you know, going for a run. And then during that podcast, I'm kind of naturally thinking about, you know, how this is how I can apply this to my life how, how it kind of makes me think bigger about what's possible. So that's kind of Yeah, I think how curiosities kind of manifested in my life at the stage. Which is interesting. Yeah, like, I've just kind of made that of observation. I watched a ton of youtube youtube videos early on when I was when I was growing up. And I just don't have the time to do that anymore.

Danu Poyner:

Well, you seem to be packing a lot into the time you have your own podcast, zero to play where you talk to people from the games industry about what they do. Can you say something about why you started that and whether you notice anything from your guests and what they have in common about curiosity and learning, is that a theme?

Carl Leducq:

Yeah. So at the beginning of this year, I am I decided to launch a weekly Game Dev podcast and That just kind of became a combination of me feeling like there was a lack of content in the game dev space. There are a few podcasts I found like over the last six months I've I've found, like three or four really good game dev podcasts that are doing a similar thing. If I had known about those a year ago, I probably wouldn't have started the podcast. But I just think I felt like there was this, this gap in the market and I'd been desperately trying to find this. This thing I could like dig my teeth into and to produce on a on a consistent basis. And so yeah, just being being curious about different game developers as what kind of led me on this journey of reaching out to people was mostly through Twitter, Twitter's I think a great platform to kind of satisfy that curiosity and networking with different people around the world and I've Twitter to thank for me being able to get a guest every week. Now it's kind of transferring into LinkedIn a bit where a lot of a few of my guests are coming from LinkedIn. But it's still Twitter's really really powerful platform for for me to find find new new developers and different industries doing different things and reaching out to them and and asking if they'd want to talk in more depth on the podcast and a common thread from from guests on the podcast I think I think it's interesting that I keep getting reminded of from different like I've spoken to people who are CEOs and founders of companies that have just been they've just closed like a funding round but I've also spoken to indie developers that have been making a game in their house in their like in their home on weekends for the last five years. As well as people that are not directly in the industry but working for you know, big studios that they have 1000s of employees want one common thread that kind of keeps coming back is just how complicated it is to make a game and I quite like that because I for the last before before I was in in games I worked as a content creator and I would be part of this social media like storm where every day there was new content being made there was like this pressure to create content on a daily basis and I love how games is almost the opposite where it takes incredibly long and a lot of people and a lot of money to make a game to actually finish it and I quite like having that breathing room and that's a common thread that I get from a lot of the guests is just how complex and how long and expensive it is to make a game and and I really love that because it's in social media for example where the industry that I was working in before it was you know you didn't have time to kind of think about how to do things better you just kind of had to go with the flow and like the current would take you this way you'd see this trend and you'd hop on that and you do this and it was quite sporadic and intense so so I love hearing that the games are complicated but people are still making incredible games and it's it's a space that I feel like I can like a cadence that I I feel like I am more comfortable as compared to compared to social media.

Danu Poyner:

Yeah, that's really interesting. And I it's a common kind of reflection I hear from people who work in creative pursuits that if you if you knew what was involved and how difficult it was going to be what before you started you probably wouldn't do it and it's interesting hearing about knowing about the other podcasts as well. So there's something about throwing yourself into things blindly that that is important in this space it seems you mentioned right at the start that you regret not following your curiosity more and I'm really curious about that because you seem like someone who really follows it a lot so what would following it more look like and have you had any path not taken or regrets or has it ever got you into trouble following your curiosity as well?

Carl Leducq:

Yeah, so if I think back to like when when I come back to this part of my life a lot but when I was making these these short montage was I want it took me a long time to produce anything. I'd have this like this creative like inspiration to make something that was themed like a kaleidoscope for example and I'd spend like Hours like a whole night just making making this like Kaleidoscope intro. Finding like a good piece of music that matched with this theme of like colors and things like that. And it's one that a montage that I created that I remember vividly but what I Didn't do was finish it. And that's something I really regret is not having that mp4 file anywhere that I can look back on. Even if it was half finished, I wish I just exported it, and then put it on a hard drive somewhere. But I, you know, I, I'd go down this this rabbit hole of trying to create this like masterpiece and then once I realized that masterpiece wasn't at all anything as good as I thought I kind of would give up on it. And it's, it's a real shame because I've done that dozens of times over the years, as I've improved my craft, and I've slowly kind of built that that taste and that the the ability to make content that I'm really proud of. But I wish I had the, the the kind of starting projects, even if they were unfinished just to look back on because right now they're just in my memory and, and just kind of moments that I that I remember. And there's a really, really cool short film called the gap by Ira Glass. And it's, it's just a few minutes, and it just talks about how the creative, the creative journey is all about trying to make something. And then once you've finished it, you realize there's a huge gap between what you've created and what you hoped to have created with that inspiration that you had. And it's just that gap in between is what you're constantly trying to fill. And the reality is that you never quite reach it because you never you never quite fill the gap because as you learn more your your taste and your your ideas become even more grand. And in that that kind of finish line gets pushed further and you never really reach it. But in the beginning, especially that gap is so huge that you have such a huge amount of hope that what you create this kind of passion that you put towards something becomes this amazing thing that other people will respect and feel the same way about but the you know, the truth is you need to kind of overcome those those moments of doubt as you build your craft. And that's a fascinating thing. Just there's just kind of the creative journey is something I have thought about a lot and and I just feel like, I wish I did a better job earlier on in my journey of documenting what I was doing, why I was doing it. Because it's just about putting time in and just kind of getting better and better at that craft as you find your style as you find what your passion and what your curiosity really, like aligns with, I don't feel like I've really figured it out. But I definitely feel a lot more confident in myself now than I did 10 years ago. I don't know if that kind of answers the question, but this is all stuff that I'm really, really passionate about. Talking about. Yeah,

Danu Poyner:

thanks so much for sharing that. I hadn't seen the gap. But I'll be I'll be watching that I'll put a link to it in here afterwards, as someone who has a lot of stream of abandoned projects and things that's very resonates with me a lot. Yeah, I'm still I'm still just digesting that. The the question of having time is really interesting. And I want to dig into that a little bit more. Because it seems like that time in your life is where you were you had the ability to kind of explore, not aimlessly, but you could you could follow different threads. And that that time is more difficult to get hold of now. But also one it I know it's early days on the podcast, but one of the things that has come out for me already is how things that they've learned from one area of their life come up to be surprisingly useful in other areas of their life, even though it's not something they had planned. And that seems to have something to do with solving the time problem as well. Do you have any thoughts on on all of that?

Carl Leducq:

Yeah, I think I truly believe that if you if you're following your your curiosity, that that time that you spend will will never become useless. Because if you'd like if you're curious about it now, you'll probably find yourself curious about it in some form a decade later. And that's exactly how I felt I've I've kind of pursued this, you know, I thought it was a passion for film and storytelling. Now I've kind of converted that into a passion and a curiosity for games and games as a medium. I went through this path of creating video content and content for social media that now I'm kind of applying those skills that I learned into the podcast and building my personal brand on social media. So it's, it's, it's funny, I do think that all these all these kind of things that you invest your time in, after a while you will try and find ways for them to match. And I think that that's what will put you above others when trying to, you know, it could be applying for jobs. If you have this like proven side hustle, business, you know, whether it's a say that you you made t shirts in your spare time, just having having like the machinery and knowledge of how to like bready your own t shirts, and then going on to a project and then having this as like an extra thing that you can provide value for, for the project that you're working on. I don't know just random things like that, I feel like it you'll always find ways to try and incorporate all of your curiosities into into one bucket. And if Yeah, and the fact that you're curious about it, I think proves that is it's important to know that there's millions of other people around the world that are also curious about it. And, and I think that that's something that's interesting, that's that's valuable to know is that you're likely not the only person curious about this thing. So there's, whether it's making a podcast, or building a business, like you, if you're curious and passionate about something, it's very likely that other people will be as well. And that's, that's the kind of community and the the niche that you need to tap into, if you want to kind of build that thing. And that's kind of what I've learned to just accept. Before, I probably felt like I was more alone and a lot of the ways that I was feeling, but I think the internet nowadays has done a great job of helping connect those people. And to kind of build those communities online so that people can can feel that that sense of community earlier on than they could, you know, a decade a decade ago.

Danu Poyner:

That's really powerful that sort of idea of find your community or or make it if it's not there. It's Speaking of which, so you're on the board of the New Zealand game developers Association. How did that come about? And how have you learned how to be a board member?

Carl Leducq:

Yes. So one, I don't think that there's any I didn't have, I didn't learn how to be a board member before I became on the board. It was definitely something that I learned after I was on it. So how it came about was about a year and a few months ago, when I got my job at rocket works, I, I just I kind of hit the ground running when I re entered the games industry. I'd left it for a few years. And then I came back and I reconnected with some old connections. And I felt this kind of this, this new sense of confidence in myself and the games industry and all the innovations that were happening. And I just started really getting just taking more action with reaching out to people on Twitter, and things like that, and interacting with the projects that were happening in New Zealand. And what happened was the chairperson of the NZ GDS. So it's funny, I actually applied to be on the board in November last year. And I didn't get enough votes. And it's a, it's a, it's like an open valant. It's a volunteer organization that gets voted by the members, or the board gets gets voted by the members. So I applied to be on the board, I didn't get enough votes to get accepted. So I didn't get chosen. I was really bummed because I got really excited about it. And I started thinking about like, how to be to be part of a board is quite an exciting thing. And I really put myself out there to apply the CEO rockworks Steven Knightley, he was sitting on the board last year and I spoke to him a bit about it and he said I should run and that's what led to me applying. And I didn't get in but I still continue to kind of network and interacted with people on Twitter in the industry. And the the chippers and chassis rep ended up reaching out to me and in like late December, early January, about writing the newsletter for the entire GTA so she she saw that I was interacting a lot with a community that I was engaging with a lot of the content and that I was that I seem to be connected with the the overall New Zealand games industry. So she asked me on to the producers, this monthly newsletter, I accepted that. And then a few weeks later, one of the board members had to step down and and because of that the in the constitution it was they reached out to the next person in line that didn't that got the next amount of votes. And it wasn't me someone else, someone else's in line. And that person I'm not sure who it was but they didn't respond to the email offering them the board position. And then so they went down the list again and then I was the next person on the list and then they asked if I wanted to join the board and that worked out really well because I was already doing the newsletter. I was already kind of infused in the community and like the channels so it was it was an easy process for me to just to be elevated to the board position and then that just kind of kick started a whole other flood of of skills that I've learned whether it's communicating at a government level the NZ GDC which is the the yearly games conference that nzda put together, or Kiwi game starter which is our early stage funding for studios and the people that have been able to interact with has been incredible for just me growing as a producer as New Zealand games advocate and it's something I hope to continue because it's a completely different thread that isn't what the podcast provides it isn't what my job as a producer provides it's a completely separate pillar of of networking and providing value to other game developers on their journey and it's a hugely fulfilling job that it can take a lot of my time if I'm not careful but um but it is hugely valuable and it's made made me able to connect with some incredible people in the New Zealand games industry.

Danu Poyner:

Yeah, it's good advice for anyone including being at a raffle it's just be in the room and stay in the room total if you want things to come to speaking of the conference that you put on that that was on recently and that was an in person event which is a kind of rare treat in the current times what was that like to organize an in person event and it was hybrid event as well I think Australians couldn't come one What do you think about that?

Carl Leducq:

Well, it was it was an incredible experience because I've I've volunteered for different festivals and conferences in the past I've done videos for for different different conferences too so I'd never been on the like organize or like the Organising Committee before and I was I was just there was so much work involved that's one thing that I've I think I've learned for if I find a part of something like this again or if I'm part of it next year is learning how to delegate as a skill that I learned this year just you know, trying not to take too much on because a very quickly Paul's up but it was incredibly stressful two weeks before the conference Australia going into a lockdown, so a bunch of our speakers and attendees couldn't fly over which was a shame and two weeks after the conference New Zealand went into lockdown so we really got lucky with this gap we were able to have an in person conference but it was incredibly stressful to try and just get all of that sorted and hope if we had gone into lockdown we had this kind of virtual event backup plan. But I'm really glad we didn't do that because that's not what ended GDC was designed for you know, we hadn't really practiced or like there wasn't we didn't really have a plan B it was it was either do it fully in person, or like the experience wouldn't have been as great. But that it was it was awesome. I I hadn't been to like a I went to play by play earlier in the year which is part of the New Zealand Games Festival which which is also held in Wellington earlier on the year. And that was a really cool experience. But NZ GDC was just for me being on the organizing committee and seeing how everything behind the scenes worked was a completely different experience. The value that I got from it was was awesome and what I heard other people got from it as well was was incredibly satisfying to hear as well. I I kind of took the chunk of managing the social media like you know there's so many different areas that that needed to be managed and that was the kind of little corner that I was really passionate about and that was just making sure that there was a presence on on Twitter on Facebook on on LinkedIn. Make sure that the that we're communicating the speakers, the keynotes when the content was going to be available and then putting all that on YouTube with the recorded footage that we got and and things like that. So that's really a lot of my time kind of went into. I am doing a lot of thinking now about whether next year I would want to be involved at such a high level or what I want to try and enjoy the conference like an attendee would. Because you know, you do miss out on a lot of the networking. You know, things that you that you usually get from a conference by being behind the scenes, dealing with problems on the Phone and things like that. So I haven't figured out quite how much I would want to be a part of something like that going forward but but we'll see it was it was a huge learning process though. And I learned a ton from that

Danu Poyner:

awesome I mean I was there it was a fantastic event, as it's not always common for conferences, there's a huge amount of information density and efficiency are really valuable. So I just wanted to mention that I'm going to change gears a little bit now and just ask you given you what we've talked about with education What are your thoughts on the games for education space, which is really exploding at the moment? Have you ever seen examples of this that have done really well or that have done badly? What what are your thoughts?

Carl Leducq:

Um, I do I'm I'm a firm believer that so the way I see it if you had two experiences one that was on paper, and if you had the same kind of questions, but put in a in a more immersive environment with you know, 3d assets and engaging UI and even like sound design, and you had the same information, I firmly believe that like a game like experience of the same information would be more engaging. And probably you have a higher success rate then just like a piece of paper with with questions on it. itself very big conversation that I don't think I'm the best advocate for. But one person that I do really admire with what's what kind of innovations are happening in the industry is enter for brager who is one of the founders of Ad Astra, which is a school that Elan musk built on the Space X. terrain like on the on the land that SpaceX was on, it was a school that he funded, where he wanted the kind of education system to be kind of reimagined, and he partnered with some other really passionate educators. And they've, they have like a completely different mindset of what like education should be. And that's a really, I hope to have an on the podcast one day because I just i'd love their perspective on you know, what education can be and how it can best be applied for like solving the world's problems. And I think, I think the whole concept like conversation of education, as is a huge one and one that I don't think I can really do justice speaking of, in a short few minutes, but I do think just the kind of questions that are being asked nowadays, like, what is education? What should we be educating our kids? And then like, what is the best way to educate them as well. They're just really big questions that are being asked with lots of different things being experimented on. I love how games are being incorporated. Like I think there's a lot of game like experiences that like for example Minecraft, and you can learn and you can teach a lot of people certain foundational elements through a game like Minecraft, and I have seen like viral posts of teachers using things like fortnight creative mode to teach students about, like, in maths, like how, how to find the the angle of a triangle and things like that, using fortnight as just the environment to teach that in. And using an environment that the kids are familiar with. I think there's a lot of, you know, ideas being thrown around. I don't know what the answer is. But I do think anyone who kind of sees the potential in, in games and interactive media experiences as like, the next step is I think, a smart way because for me, personally, I find those experiences because you're kind of emulating, taking action on it. And that's one thing that I I found that has made me progresses is kind of turning that knowledge into skill by by actually applying that action. And a game is all about embodying the player and taking that action yourself. So there's some really interesting conversations about, you know, if you're playing a game, are you building skill or knowledge and like, how is that being, like figured out in your brain and how will that move you forward? Like, there's some really interesting questions then I definitely want to continue looking into those things, but Maybe, maybe Danny, you'd be you'd be a bit of personnel at kind of helping helping me realize the kind of innovations that are happening in the space?

Danu Poyner:

Oh, well, it is a big conversation isn't I don't think we're going to do justice to a couple of minutes. But I spend, this is the thing I that keeps me going and that I get really revved up about, I think, probably just what I'd say is it, there's so much up for grabs in this space at the moment. And there's a sort of unbundling of the usual ways of doing things. And we're going to see a proliferation of approaches and philosophies and some of them are going to work and some of them are not going to work. In the in the game space, I would just observe, there's probably the gamification, which is like adding all of the artifacts from games onto legacy, ways of doing education and making it gamified. But then there's the the more interesting space, which is game based learning, which is where you actually take the principles of, of game design, and do what you're saying about putting the agency and closing that loop of action. And that's a really interesting space to see where that's going. So, yeah, no doubt, we'll talk about that more. In future.

Carl Leducq:

Yeah, one thing I just want to end on, on that kind of topic that I have thought about a little bit, and that is, it's kind of like what you mentioned with game based learning is, is having fun, be the primary source of, of kinda value that you get from it. And then education being the second and it's a lot of, I think it's interesting when you see projects that have been made with education, being the primary source of value, and like the design behind it, how much different those experiences are compared to wanting to build a game that is actually fun and entertaining. And then, and then in putting, like, educational principles behind that, so that that is an interesting conversation. But I do think like games a really powerful because they get you lost in the state of flow, because they're fun, and because the challenges is inviting, and it makes you want to continue and learn and and figure it out. But um, but yeah, making education, right, front and center might struggle to make the play get into that state of flow. And that is one of the challenges with with this conversation is where's that? Where's that line?

Danu Poyner:

Yeah, well, that's right. And then there's the that whole area of serious games, which, like training simulations, more so than than fun things. But I guess the thing that that keeps me going in this space of the question I keep coming back to is, when you talk to people, everyone has these stories of following their curiosity, and what we talked about right at the start about lighting up and really, you know, seeing the whole person, everyone's got these kinds of experiences and stories. And most of education, at least formally that people experience seems to be not that or those moments are rare. And my question is just, why can't they be more common? Why can't we design for that? A little bit more? And what would that mean? How would that work? So that's that's what I'm that's the thread I'm pulling on all the time. I don't have an answer. But exploring I guess we've been talking for a while. But I have one question I want to get in now now that we're probably wrapping close to wrapping up in terms of how people get into the games industry, and the common path people take, there's a lot of university degree programs available now including in New Zealand. Do you have any thoughts on on where those sit in the, in the scheme of things and how how useful and relevant they are? Yeah, so

Carl Leducq:

games are a huge just combination of so many different types of media. In and there's, there's so many different ways you can get into the industry. If you're a sound designer, you know, studying studying music, studying. Like it doesn't necessarily need to be a game design degree. But you can pursue your passion for music, and then that can lead you into a career and in games, same as if you're passionate about drawing that can lead you to a career as a concept artist, and there's so many different kind of avenues that can tie in. When it comes to programming. A lot of people started off in like a computer science degree and, and then found their passion for like a branch of that which was like games programming. And there are institutions that offer those specific courses. There's in New Zealand, there's some great courses at institutions like media design school or things like that, that are that are kind of satisfying that those creative pursuits, but the games program is I find usually come from like a computer science background. And there's a growing number of kind of games programming specific courses being made. In terms of like production, like in the career path that I found myself in, like, it's like I found my way through QA, my first job in the industry was as a QA tester, which is someone who just plays the game on a daily basis and finds the latest bugs and communicates that back to, to the programmers and the end the rest of the team. So it doesn't require any, any kind of foundational skills. And, and there's, there's value and kind of understanding like programming languages and working in QA. But that seems to be a pretty common kind of entry level position that gets you kind of foot in the door and then you can you can see what other departments interest you. It's, it's a it's a really interesting question because people People come from all sorts of different career paths. And just the definition of a game as well as as is evolving, that people kind of fall into this, like games programmer position where they never really thought of themselves as as a gamer or things like that. It's just the the kind of interactive media space as growing and, and there's a ton of different ways that you can you can jump in, but hopefully those those things that I mentioned were some valuable ways but but at the end of the day, you'll never get a job if you don't ask if you're not present in the room. I'm a big advocate of of connecting with with the local like meetups and networking with local developers, just reaching out to people and having coffees going to visit studios, just taking risks and, and reaching out to people. In that sense, whether you're a programmer, an artist, or you have no experience at all, in games, I think you need to have some degree of confidence of putting yourself out there in order to see those opportunities when they when they arise. So yeah, there's a few, a few threads there. But hopefully that that answers your question a bit.

Danu Poyner:

Yeah, thanks for that perspective. That's appreciated. I guess then I have one more question that might wrap us up. And that is you've talked a lot about the confidence to put yourself out there and doing things hands on doing that you've also shared some really great stuff about overcoming doubts and actually executing things and consistency. I want to know how you learned how to overcome those doubts and was there a moment when when you had a sudden burst of clarity or was it a gradual realization? or What can you tell us about that

Carl Leducq:

I've always kind of found myself to be very philosophical and a lot of the ways that I and a lot of the ways that I think I found a real passion in the kind of motivational industry it's like it's a whole industry now with like motivational speakers and things like that, but I really connected with a lot of the messages that Yeah, so that's like a whole other rabbit hole that we won't have time to get into. But people like Gary Vee who I definitely had a phase in my life that I consumed a ton of his content and found it very inspiring and motivational for me to kind of follow my passion and that's kind of led me through these different journeys of connecting to different communities that are usually headed by like one person that's fostering this this community of like minded people so I don't know my doubt kind of brought me to people like him and communities that he had fostered because I had felt like I'd suffered with doubt a lot and I I kind of wanted to become more self aware and and and learn what my what my skills were and where to best apply myself. And like, I wouldn't say that those kind of communities gave all the answers but I do think that they made me look inward. Often where I would think about how decisions that I was making would affect my future and if I was really like applying myself to the, to the best of my ability if I was really following my passion and my curiosity or if these things that I was investing my time in were weren't at all where I should be putting During my time, and it did help me over work and it's made me connect and make some of my my best friends nowadays through online communities like that people that I engage with on a daily basis, like and I sometimes refer to them as like action buddies, you know, people that you, you talk to about the projects that you want to do and the things that you want to achieve. And you just kind of together put pressure on each other because you know, if you if there's this really cool quote that I that I thought of, at the beginning of the year that I've come back to a lot, and it's, if you let your thoughts sit, they'll never stand back up. And I love it, because it's, it's, I love that too, because it's all about if you have this kind of idea, then it's it's to apply it like make it tangible as quickly as possible. And that's just a lesson that I've learned over the years of having all these grand ideas and having a to do list app with 100 big projects that I wanted to do, and not none of them ever happening. And it's it's kind of made me realize that if if I have this idea to do something, it's just about saying yes, or putting it into motion in some form as quickly as possible, because the longer it takes to be taken action on, then it's just going to get lost, and you're going to lose that fire that passion that you had for that idea. And it's never gonna happen again. Or it might happen like several times over the course of a year, you might have that idea coming back to you over and over again. And, and maybe you have to wait for for those ideas to kind of happen four or five times before you go, Okay, this is a really, really good idea, I need to do something about this. And I've had many of those of those moments and like the podcast was the zero to play podcast was one of them. And I just, I learned to just lean forward into the, the fear and like the uncertainty and to just kind of give it a go. And yeah, so I don't really know what that the kind of takeaway is. But, but these are kind of things that I've adopted in my journey. And it's been a, you know, a long journey, like 10 years, almost of me, going through figuring out what and you know, in another five years, I might have a completely different mindset of how to best to take action or follow my curiosity. And I'd say just be patient. And yeah, just keep keep trying keep taking action. That's probably the best advice I can give.

Danu Poyner:

I think that's very good advice. And just for those who are listening and haven't seen your face, how old are you?

Carl Leducq:

27 Yeah, yeah,

Danu Poyner:

right. you've packed in quite a bit. I think it's the 25th.

Carl Leducq:

Yeah, ages an interesting thing, though, because it's, it's to me, I only really feel like I've achieved a lot in the last year and in the last 10 years of thinking has kind of started to manifest itself in the last year. So I think Don't underestimate how, how fast things can change and evolve. But I still feel like I haven't even scratched the surface of, of what I what I hope to achieve. So I do feel like I'm young, but I also feel like there's no Time's running out. And I still have a lot that I want to do.

Danu Poyner:

Yes, that's a very powerful sense that goes off. We'll all be watching with with great interest. And it is like that quote that's often pulled out. It takes 10 years to be an overnight success. Sometimes all those things come to bear at the last moment. Hey, Carl, thank you so much for sharing all of your insights with us today. I think it's been really great. And anyone would be very fortunate to have you as an action buddy. So that's been really great. And maybe we'll have you on again some time to unpack some of those other things. Is there anything that you're working on at the moment that you'd like to give a plug for or people can

Carl Leducq:

vouch for you? Does no I think I mean, if you are interested in getting in touch my my Twitter's probably the best place Cal's content. My DMS are always open if you want to reach out. But I do appreciate you Danu in your relationship and the conversations we've had throughout this year, you've helped me on my journey on producing my podcasts and kind of finding my voice and things like that. So I just want to thank you and it's a pleasure to be on the show. And I'd love to come back on and six months or a year and see how you're, how you're doing and how the show's doing and, and things like that.

Danu Poyner:

Great. Let's do that. Alright, thanks so much and enjoy the rest of your day.

Carl Leducq:

Thanks, Danny.