Graduate Profile - Emma Koch, Halfbrick

Graduate Profile - Emma Koch, Halfbrick

Graduate Profile - Emma Koch, Halfbrick


Emma Koch graduated from AIE in 2012 with an Advanced Diploma of Professional Game Development - Specialising in Art. Since graduating, Emma has been working for Australia's biggest independent game development company, Halfbrick. We catch up with Emma and find out what life is like working in the games industry.

You have landed a job at Australia's biggest independent games studio, well done! Can you tell us a little bit about how it all came about?

I’ve been drawing since I was able to hold a crayon, the same for playing video games, so after a few short years of soul searching after high school I realised that the video games industry was something I wanted to be a part of and contribute to. It took a while for me to sort out my priorities and find out what exactly I wanted to do. Initially I wanted to be a digital sculptor and 3D artist working for Santa Monica Studio or something carving up the next brutal beasts of the God of War franchise, but then I realised just how massive those companies were, and I would have to leave Australia and ultimately the goal was to be a part of something that more people would recognise and love and understand better than brutal beasts that scared them. I had discovered at this point that Halfbrick was the place where I wanted to get a job at, more than anything else.

From there, it seemed like fate. We had a group assessment at AIE and I took a huge risk and left my group to work on something independently that I thought would stand out more so than the project that I previously was on. A week later, Aiden from Halfbrick Studios walked through the door, browsed the student projects and picked out a couple. One was mine; I received a special mention in which I was told to put in the email when I applied for a job at Halfbrick. This lead to receiving the artist test (the scariest test of my life), and then a Skype interview with my current Team Lead and another Lead Artist at Halfbrick. From there I was put on a waiting list for 4-5 months whilst they did more rounds of applications and interviews. After over 200 applicants, it was narrowed down to two people. Funnily enough, we were both hired and the other applicant turned out to be a good friend of mine which was an added bonus! 

After that, I made the pilgrimage to Brisbane where I would start my new life all of which I couldn’t have physically done without the financial and emotional support of my Dad who I recently lost to brain cancer. It’s been a bumpy ride but I finally got here and the least I can do is carry on and make Dad proud.


What is it like working for Halfbrick? What does a typical day entail?

Typically, a day can range depending on how swamped with work we are. Our primary focus is the work we do, but no workplace is productive without a little fun to spice things up. The entire company is split into smaller, more focused teams working on individual projects themselves, so each part of the office is doing something different to the other. Usually we start the day with a meeting amongst those in our team to recap on the previous day’s work and what you’ve committed to for that day. The rest of the day is usually fixated work periods with occasional interludes of shenanigans. This can range from NERF gun wars between neighbouring teams to eating excessive amounts of cake, to full on testosterone-fuelled foosball competitions at lunchtime and the traditional beers and poker on Friday nights.


What have you been primarily working on? Anything in the pipeline you are allowed to tell us about?

Over the past year I’ve been working on Fruit Ninja. Unfortunately I can’t reveal anything about the future of Fruit Ninja, but I can say that we’re slowly bringing ourselves and our tools up to speed so we can continue to provide quality gaming experiences. The pipeline consists mainly of Artists and Designers working closely together on developing the look and feel of various aspects of the game while the Programmers weld all the bits and bobs in place and make sure it works. It’s then sent to QA where the game is probed everywhere and all the bugs are squished. While Code is bug fixing and QA is bug finding, the Artists and Designers usually work on developing new creative content for the game. Fruit Ninja blades for example are a lot of fun to design and create! Other than that, there truly is some exciting stuff coming out from some of the other teams here which regrettably I can’t tell you about either! The wait isn’t going to be too much longer that’s for sure.


There are a few AIE graduates working at Halfbrick - do you get to work with them much?

Unfortunately no! They are working down in the Sydney office, so I only get to occasionally see them over Skype when we have company meetings on Friday afternoons. We do all get to catch up at various times of the year for Halfbrick held fun-days and events which is always good.


What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Getting on the bus in the morning and seeing kids left right and centre playing the games I am helping to make with a big smile on their face. The reward is seeing the product you pour your heart into being enjoyed by so many other people.


What is the one piece of advice you would give to those who are currently studying or thinking of studying to get into the games industry?

Do what you love; love what you do.