Fast Five – Meghann O’Neill

In the lead up to this year’s festival, we’ve asked some of our speakers a set of Fast Five questions about their work and their thoughts on games in Australia. Today we have games reviewer, music teacher, and composer Meghann O’Neill, who will be running a music workshop at the Freeplay Fete.

What are you working on right now?

Right now, I’m working on filling out this form to the best of my ability. Something I try to convey to my music students is that you don’t need to focus on your creative goals all of the time. In fact, if you have a balanced life, the time you spend working towards performance, composition or whatever it is you do, can be more fruitful. (But, when I’m not focusing on this form, I’m iterating on a system of dynamic music, finding great indie games for PC Powerplay magazine and writing, mostly, short stories. And hopefully helping Primary students to develop a love of instrumental music.)

What do you wish you worked on? Why?

I carefully seek work that supports my wider creative goals, where possible. So, when I interview composers for PC Powerplay magazine, I often get great ideas for my own compositions. When I compose music based on some new idea, I can often then sell a lecture to a tertiary institution. For now, I’d like to continue being a diverse musician and games reviewer because of that mutually supportive process.

What’s an Australian game, old or new, digital or physical, that you find interesting?

At PAX Australia last year, I saw [Chris Johnson’s] Expand, briefly, and thought it looked like a clever concept. It wasn’t until I requested a build to play for PC Powerplay that I came to appreciate it as a really emotional experience. The levels literally “push you around” and don’t quite allow enough time for you to get your bearings before throwing danger in your face. When you fail, the game gently lets you have another try, but from a different perspective. It’s a uniquely compelling experience. I wanted to learn and progress more than nearly any other game I can remember.

What, for you, has been the biggest shift in games in Australia in the past ten years?

I’ve been writing for PC Powerplay magazine for 8 years now and I currently have 4 monthly pages dedicated to independent gaming. I try to make sure they have an Australian focus, where I can. Simply, Australian game development has become a lot more visible. People are releasing a range of content, some are accessing alpha-funding structures or being funded by initiatives like Screen Australia, others are forming studios or making a body of work alone. It’s an exciting time to engage with Australian developers, whose enthusiasm and hard work is inspiring.

What do you see yourself doing in another ten years?

I’d really like to be teaching tertiary music students more regularly, because that love of music and all of its little details is something I really understand. And I’d always like to have small groups of young students, too. I would love to be more involved with music therapy, probably in a volunteer capacity, because making music is something everyone can participate in. I hope I’m still writing about games. I wonder if I can convince PC Powerplay to blow out my indie section to 10 pages per month. There will totally be enough content by then. There’s enough content for that now! Any leftover time I have, you’ll find me working on mad creative writing and music projects. Oh, and hiking in Nepal, hopefully, and collecting new musical inspiration from non-Western sources.