The Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) have been part of the Watson neighbourhood for almost 20 years, both managing the CTP building and land [bordered by Phillip Ave, A’Beckett Street, Burton St and Windeyer St], and running an award winning registered training organisation (RTO).
With the establishment of tree lined streets, expansive parks and public areas, Watson has become a haven for its older residents and for many young families.
The local shopping centre has expanded over the years, replacing the take away shop with the window at the back and the lolly shop at the front with a more modern take away shop. The expansion of the supermarket, now Supabarn, saw the end of Watson’s local butcher shop. The dirt patch next to Nipperville replacing the local Service Station is being prepared for future development. Nipperville has received many makeovers to reveal a modern, vibrant day care centre. Majura Primary and the Watson Pre-School have also received makeovers bringing them into the modern era. The Australian Catholic University (ACU) is bursting at the seams and cars now line Phillip Avenue on week days all the way from Antill Street to Windeyer Street. Many cafes have come and gone over the years, with the most recent, Knox at Watson, opening with a hugely popular focus on ‘made in Watson’.
The Watson business community has seen the addition of 2 local TV Stations, The Ted Hollows Foundation, The non-profit AIE (on the former Watson High School site) and more recently, a new Service Station on the way out of Watson, complimented by the ever popular McDonalds.
The area once known as Canberry Fair has now made way for more houses, likewise, the area once known as the Starlight Drive-in. The old heritage listed Starlight drive-in sign has finally been restored and put back into its original place!
Gone are the days where you could buy your fruit and veggies from the man in the truck parked on Stirling Avenue. No longer do we have the trucks loaded with people driving up and down our streets at Christmas time signing Christmas carols.
Having said that, today, Watson is a thriving hub of families, businesses, schools and community organisations that we are all proud to belong to, participate in, and call our own.
Watson High School
1965 to 1987
Watson High School was the first development on the site that Canberra Technology Park (CTP) now occupies in 1965 with 265 students. The school continued to grow until it reached approximately 850 students and faculty. The school was closed a short 22 years after first opening. The buildings still look relatively the same, however the inside has been extensively renovated.
CTP was pleased to host the year 10 class of 1979 for a special milestone celebration in 2013.
Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) – Watson Campus
1991 to 2000
Circa 1991, the CIT Faculty of Applied Design was relocated to the former Watson High School site.
In 1996 Computer game developer Micro Forté Pty Ltd. established the Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) to run a course in computer game development in partnership with CIT. The first class of 10 students commenced training in Block E of the Watson CIT Campus. By the time the Chief Minister opened the school in 1997 the AIE was operational. The then Chief Minister Kate Carnell had a progressive outlook and believed in the future potential of the AIE and how it could help grow the Australian computer games development industry.
Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) – Watson Campus and Canberra Technology Park
2000 to present
In 2000, AIE became a non-profit registered training organisation (RTO) and introduced the first of its own independently run courses.
In 2001 CIT’s faculty of Applied Design moved out of the Watson Campus. The AIE secured a licence to stay on and manage the site and work commenced to re-brand the campus to Canberra Technology Park (CTP). In 2002, the Park was officially opened by the then Chief Minister, John Stanhope. AIE still maintains a close relationship with CIT and jointly delivers a Bachelor of Games and Virtual Worlds Degree.
In 2003, the AIE began expanding nationally into Melbourne, followed by Sydney in 2009 and Adelaide in 2015. In 2011 the AIE opened its first USA campus in Seattle (right next to the iconic Space Needle), which was closely followed by the establishment of a second smaller campus in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Not only has AIE been a leader in the field of education, their visionary approach to industry development has spurred on the growth of the Australian computer games industry, with AIE’s Founder and Chairman also founding the Game Developer’s Association of Australia (GDAA), the Australian Game Developer’s Conference (AGDC), computer game developer Micro Forté and middle-ware developer BigWorld Pty Ltd.