Video gaming has become more social and part of the current pop culture zeitgeist, according to UniSuper member and lecturer in media and communications at Swinburne Dr Dan Golding, who also has a PhD in video gaming.
So Dan, tell me a little bit about what you do and how you got there.
I'm a media academic and I study, research, write about, and teach video games, cinema studies and music—film music in particular. I've done all sorts of things, from writing books, creating a YouTube channel and I've worked in radio and TV for the ABC.
And what drew you to it?
At no stage did I sit down and go, “okay, I'm going to be a lecturer”. I simply studied—from my undergrad and honours to my Masters and subsequently my PhD which led me to teaching. I simply enjoy thinking about this stuff, finding out about it and communicating it.
I also love teaching. I really enjoy going through the process with students of opening up their minds to critical thinking and understanding the world. Especially because these days, people look at the world as though everything that's unfolding has never happened before. And that's just not the case. Dispelling that is one thing I enjoy working through with students who are open to finding new ways of looking at the world.
How, in your view, has gaming culture shifted over time and what does it mean for the way we interact with one another?
I think the history of games is interesting because games started out in public—in bars and arcades. In the 1970s and '80s, video games were played in public, you didn't do them in the privacy of your home because consoles didn't exist at that point. And then in the late '80s and the '90s, and especially the early 2000s, that changed and people started to think of games as really intimate, and certainly a domestic activity.
I think what's really interesting is over the last 10 years we’ve seen a seismic change in the public nature of gaming—from Pokémon Go which literally forces people to get out of the house—to phenomena like Fortnite, which is part of the current pop culture zeitgeist in a way where very few games have been before.
It's become its own self-sustaining cultural ecosystem and it's really social. So I think the social nature of games is what defines it at the moment.
Do you think there’s a place for gaming in finance? We’re seeing an increase in the use of apps for money matters, so could gaming follow?
There already is a place for gaming in finance, actually, with some trading companies using ‘gamified’ principles to enhance their apps, or alternatively, with the increase in real-world gambling we see with games today. However, I think generally this is actually a cause for concern and is something that is increasingly catching the eye of regulators as it can be incredibly risky.
That said, a friend recently worked on a game-like Facebook chat-bot that helps users consolidate their super, which to me is a perfect combination of games and finance.
Shifting gears a little bit, how important is super currently for you?
I think super’s pretty important. It's something that I—especially being a casual academic—knew was important but hadn't really given much thought to because as a casual it wasn’t possible to earn that much super. When I started working full time, I knew I needed to get more on top of it. For me, the most important thing is to check that what I'm putting in and my employer's putting in is being put to good use—not just in terms of saving for my future, but in having ethical options to choose from.
Do you find that it competes with other financial priorities that you might have at the moment?
I'm about to settle on my first house so that's obviously my focus at the moment. I haven't had to make any adjustments to super to get there, which is nice, but that's going to be my immediate ongoing priority.
And finally, what does your ideal retirement look like?
I’d obviously like to be set up and comfortable. I don't think I'm going to ever ‘intellectually retire’ and I think I'm always going to be actively working in my field. I work on no single trajectory and have many areas of interest. I'm sure if I was retired, I'd still probably be doing a film music podcast or making YouTube videos about music because that’s where my passions are.
I hope to have the means to be able to pursue my interests, to not worry about debt and to ensure that if I have a family, they don't have to worry about their financial futures either.