IGTM, R18+, Social Games, and Game Masters

I’m buried in putting Freeplay together and haven’t really found time to blog, which is a shame because this year has been fascinating for games locally and there’s lots to be said. Luckily, other people have said interesting things which means I can just link to them 🙂

Indie Game The Movie screened at ACMI a few weeks back, and will be screening again in September. I appreciated the film despite having a complex reaction to it that I’m still processing, but this review of it sums up my feelings well. In short, I think it tells a very specific story of independent game development that’s still an interesting story, but isn’t representative of the amazing spread of design philosophies, platforms, cultural exploration, and art that exist, or that are resonant for me. Why did I find that an issue? From the linked review:

Their obligation is in the title “Indie Game: The Movie”, and all that comes with that. Why call your film that and then not follow any of the hobbyists, or part time developers, or people on the fringes who make up most of the indie scene? Why not choose to follow a person like increpare (to pick a random name), who’s released around a hundred games on his cryptic webpage without any sort of announcement for years? Examining something so completely antithetical to traditional attitudes towards game development and distribution would embody the best and most exciting things happening in indie games right now.

The R18+ bill passed the senate without amendment. Dan Golding over at Crikey’s Game On blog raises some good points about what it will actually mean in reality, and it mirrors some thoughts I’ve posted about before. I don’t think this will have meaningful impact on developers or on a public discourse of videogames. All it will mean is that some games will shuffle their ratings, and others will perhaps become available to buy in Australia.

I took part in this piece in The Age about the rise of gaming as social activity alongside SingStar creator Paulina Bozek and Alex Rigopulos of Harmonix, the first of no doubt many pieces surrounding ACMI’s upcoming Game Masters exhibition – which kicks off next week and which I’m hugely excited to be taking part in.

First up,I’ll be taking part in the opening forum on Thursday, June 28th talking about Games and Cultural Spaces with Conrad Bodman (ACMI), Linda Pitt (State Library of QLD) and Ricardo Peach (Australia Council’s Inter-Arts), chaired by Leena van Deventer (whose Sims, Interrupted project is brilliant, by the way!).

That evening, I’ll be In Conversation With Warren SpectorDeus Ex was one of my formative game experiences and I’m flattered and honoured to have the chance to talk to him in person.

Then, on Friday morning back in the forum, I’ll be talking with Tim Schafer about Flexing the Story Muscle, covering story in games and the evolution of Double Fine.

Almost finally, I’ll be working with a group of amazing kids on ACMI’s Hothouse program, developing games with them in an intensive week long workshop.

Then, in July I’m chairing the first of ACMI & Freeplay’s Re:Play events, Thorin Sings About Gold taking a look at the thorny subject of adaptation in videogames. We’ll be coming back on the third Thursday of every month throughout the exhibition, so keep an eye out for the other topics.

Oh. And Freeplay‘s in September too. 19-23 to be exact. And we’ve been running a hugely successful Pozible campaign which is almost done now, but has far exceeded our target. Thanks to everyone who has contributed. This is my last festival, and I’m still figuring out what that means to me, but I’m incredibly excited about the shape of things to come, and have been inspired by the amazing people who have delivered amazing festivals around me so far this year. In particular Emily Sexton & Paul Gurney from Next Wave (here‘s some introspective thoughts on festivals, partly catalysed by Emily’s opening speech), and Lisa Dempster from the Emerging Writers’ Festival who more than anyone has inspired me in what it means to be the director of a festival, and who also put on a hell of a thing in 2012!  Running a festival is such a strange job to take on, and I’m grateful that there are amazing people doing amazing work that constantly explores and questions and celebrates the work of their community, and I hope, for its own part, Freeplay does that every year too.

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