Inspiring a new generation of video game developers is getting William Sharples noticed in the highest halls of power.
Coordinator of the Eden Game Development Centre, Mr Sharples has been nominated to attend the upcoming National Student Leadership Forum, a non-partisan group of federal MPs and Senators, business and community leaders, united by a desire to help young people become effective leaders for life.
Among the forum’s hosts are Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition leader Bill Shorten, Tony Abbott, Julie Bishop, Mike Kelly, Penny Wong, Scott Morrison, Bob Katter and a host of others from all sides of politics.
Mr Sharples said the forum – which has the tagline ‘faith and values’ – would be a great opportunity to speak about what youth want and what they believe in.
“It gives youth a strong voice in front of all these politicians,” he said this week.
“I’m planning to speak to youth in the Eden area before I go so this is not just me standing up at the forum and saying what I want – I can take the ideas of Eden’s youth with me.”
Mr Sharples said the forum would likely give the invited youth an opportunity to learn how to lead and ways of being a leader, informed by their own individual experiences, “whether that’s in business, politics, or wanting to change the world”.
“I’ve already given a speech in Parliament House and they’ve invited me back, so I must’ve done something right,” he said with a laugh.
He said the Eden Game Development Centre was not about playing games.
“There’s a lot of politics behind the games industry that I want to change,” he said.
“It’s such a valuable sector. In my opinion much more valuable than movies or music.
“The immersion and experience you can get from gaming is valuable and has great benefits in building skills and for education, as well as entertainment and financial benefits.
“With more funding, those benefits would be even bigger.”
Mr Sharples said he felt qualities of a great leader included being able to help people, to want to make change, to have aspirations.
He also said having a collaborative approach at the centre meant he could learn as well as teach.
“I’m not just up on high saying ‘you must make games’. I’m right in there with them and keen to be part of the process.
“I even find they might come up with something I hadn’t thought of.”
To attend the forum, which has no government funding support despite the hosts, Mr Sharples has to pay his own way. The fee is in the order of $1700 and he is currently looking for supporters in the community.
If you can assist, contact William Sharples via firstname.lastname@example.org before July 26.