Dr Kate Raynes-Goldie has defined her career by being ahead of the technological curve.
The Perth-based innovation expert and game designer authored the first ever research paper on internet memes in 2003, and went on to write the first ever paper on social media friending in 2005, when Facebook was less than a year old.
This ability to predict and explain major cultural tech phenomena has run throughout Raynes-Goldie’s professional life, with a focus on mixed reality games making a real-world difference.
The technologist is now a professional consultant, designer and educator in games, innovation and diversity, and the founder and creative director of award-winning games studio Games We Play.
While her career has taken her in multiple directions, a focus on people, technology and change has remained constant.
“It’s the way I’ve chosen to do my work, to do what I think is important and to work on change,” Raynes-Goldie says.
“I’ve always had a desire to make the world better. The reason I got into game design was because of that. When I started doing it as an adult it was physical world games and mixed reality games. You don’t just do things on the screen, you do things in the real world.
“I’m always trying to do something that makes the world better.”
For Raynes-Goldie, technology and games are a means to an end, the tools to make this change have as positive an impact as possible.
“I’ve always been really passionate about technology and change - those two things run through my entire life,” she says.
“Technology, happiness and games run through it all. Even though I’ve worked as an academic, researcher, journalist and games developer, it all comes through.”
Growing up in Canada with Kiwi parents, Raynes-Goldie completed a Bachelor degree in Philosophy and Semiotics and Communications Theory from the University of Toronto.
Although at first glance unrelated to her eventual profession, the studies helped her to look at the world in a different, more holistic way.
“That was really, really useful for being able to think critically about the world,” Raynes-Goldie says.
It was there that she wrote the papers on memes and early social networks, and at just 22 years old, Raynes-Goldie decided to present this knowledge at an international internet research conference in Toronto.
The deadline for applications had already closed, so Raynes-Goldie naturally emailed the organiser directly. The Australian liked her chutzpah, and eventually invited Raynes-Goldie to do a PhD in his home country.
That’s how Raynes-Goldie came to do her PhD at Curtin University in Western Australia with Professor Matthew Allen and now, more than 10 years later, she’s never left.
Raynes-Goldie’s focus on technology quickly zeroed in as games as her central passion. She now has more than a decade of experience in developing mixed reality games, and now advises in virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality space.
She was also the first ever director of the interactive programs at FTI, leading the creation of this innovative games support program never before seen in the country’s west.
The list goes on - she’s now an award-winning innovator, disruptive technology expert and game designer - but success for Raynes-Goldie isn’t about awards or downloads, it’s about positive change.
“If I can make a change with one person, a really profound change, then that can be a ripple effect. I know how hugely impactful that has been for me, and this is me paying that forward to other people,” she says.
“I don’t know if the games I make will reach millions, but maybe they will indirectly. If you make someone smile, they’ll make someone else smile and it’ll keep going. My main driver is change - leaving the world better than how I found it.”
The tech leader is now working to pay her experience and knowledge forward in the Perth and Australian tech communities. She runs Playup Perth, a monthly showcase for developers to put the games they’re working on show for feedback and advice.
“There’s lots of really great stuff happening now - we’re definitely on the map,” Raynes-Goldie says.
Raynes-Goldie is a recent Australian Computer Society member, but says she has already gotten a lot out of it, and is looking forward to the benefits going forward.
“Even though I only recently become a member, I’ve been going to a lot of the events and speaking at them, especially at the women events in Western Australia,” she says.
“I’ve been hugely active and it’s been great. It’s the community aspect that I find really useful.”
Raynes-Goldie won the ACS Digital Disruptors ICT Professional of the Year in December last year and delivered the keynote address to the ACS conference in Western Australia.
Raynes-Goldie’s career and success has been marked by an unforgiving and unwavering focus on the future, and this doesn't change when asked about her proudest achievements.
“Come back and ask me that in 10 years - I’m still working on it,” she says.
Dr Kate Raynes-Goldie is an Honorary Member of ACS.