2022 Pearcey Medal
The 2022 Pearcey Medal was presented to John De Margheriti, widely seen as a founding 'father' of Australia's video games industry. The presentation was made in Hobart by Hon Madeleine Ogilvie MP, Tasmanian Minister for Science and Technology at a gala dinner held in conjunction with the Australian Computer Society (ACS) and TasICT.
In introducing the award, Wayne Fitzsimmons, Pearcey Foundation Chairman, observed,
John De Margheriti’s lifetime contribution to the establishment and ongoing success of the Australian games industry cannot be underestimated. Without his vision, tenacity and passion, I doubt the industry would be as successful and vibrant as it is in now. John has effectively had an influence on just about every Australian games studio and developer in operation today, not to mention his contribution to the broader ICT community and the international games industry.
John De Margheriti
John De Margheriti is widely seen as a founding 'father' of Australia's video games industry and Australia's most experienced interactive entertainment business executive. He has founded many successful companies, industry organisations and Canberra business parks, as well as helped numerous entrepreneurs and start-up companies, especially in the Australian film industry.
John was born in Italy and moved to Australia in 1970 as a young boy. He graduated with a degree in electrical engineering from UNSW Sydney. Together with his wife Vicky, he founded Micro Forté in 1985 in Sydney and wrote games for a new company called Electronic Arts Inc. (EA). It’s first project was the Official America’s Cup Sailing Simulation (1986) developed for the Commodore 64/128 and Amstrad. Micro Forté grew steadily and, in 1994, he moved his HQ to Canberra.
By 1996, John decided to address the shortage of 3D animators by founding the Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE). John started AIE because, at that time, no university offered the appropriate training courses for game developers. AIE helped the entire industry by training not only the staff necessary for Micro Forté, but also large numbers of staff for other game developers in Australia. Along the way, he also founded the Game Developers Association of Australia (now merged with the Board of the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association - IGEA) and initiated the first Australian Game Developers Conference in 1999. AIE and its graduates have won many awards over the years including twice being named the Australian Small Training Provider of the Year (2007 and more recently in 2016). Today, AIE has multiple campuses in both Australia and the US.
In 1999 Micro Forté received venture capital from Allen & Buckeridge and a grant from AusIndustry to underwrite the development of technology for massively multiplayer online (MMO) games – later known as the BigWorld Technology. Micro Forté won numerous export awards and won the Telstra National Small Business Award in 2003. BigWorld subsequently became a subsidiary of Micro Forté and over the next 10 years, BigWorld opened offices in Shanghai, Suzhou, Moscow, Austin, and Japan, but kept the global HQ based in Canberra.
BigWorld went on to become the leading global middleware solution for the development of MMO games, with clients including Microsoft, NetEase Games, Wargaming, Perfect World and Sohu. It eventually captured an estimated 60% of the Chinese online games market. BigWorld was used to create the online game “World of Tanks” which made Wargaming owner Victor Kislyi a billionaire. BigWorld was sold to Wargaming for US$45M in 2012.
John believes strongly in “giving back” and he has been very generous in his social entrepreneur responsibilities. He has founded three Canberra business parks, including Canberra Technology Park (CTP) in 1997, to help start-ups and other not-for-profit organisations in the Canberra Region. These parks have become significant locations for Australian film, games and special effects industries.
More recently, John has been focusing on the Australian independent film industry, including a not-for-profit university/film studio complex (community.aie.edu.au), a collaborative not-for-profit film studio for independent film-makers (filmplus.com.au), as well as running DEMS Entertainment, a film production company based in Los Angeles and Canberra to develop Australian feature films and TV series for the world market (demsentertainment.com).
John was recognised as Honorary Ambassador for Canberra in 2000 and awarded the 2013/14 ACT Chief Minister’s Pearcey ACT Entrepreneur Award.
- ACS Information Age (29 Nov 2022) - Renowned game developer wins 2022 Pearcey Medal