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National Cultural Policy and games

Recently there have been a number of articles about Minister for the Arts Simon Crean’s support for an extension of the 40% producer offset to be applied to games, which represents the first time I can remember that game development has been discussed seriously and in public at a federal level.

His support isn’t coming out of thin air though. It’s a result of lobbying by various groups and discussions around and submissions to both the National Cultural Policy and the Convergence Review designed to:

“…set the framework for Australian Government support for arts, culture and creativity for the next ten years, providing us with a common strategic direction and rationale for current and future investment.”

From culture.arts.gov.au

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GCAP Government Round Table

This is the presentation I gave to the government round table at GCAP. Present there were representatives from Screen Australia, Film Victoria, The Office for the Arts, State Government, and others. During the discussion, PricewaterhouseCooper presented details from their Australian Entertainment and Media Outlook, the IGEA talked about their recent Digital Australia report looking at changing audience information, and I was asked to talk about games and culture.

Unlike last year’s talk where I tried to give a reframing argument of how to think and talk about games and culture, I – quite last minute – decided to look at the part of creative industries that haven’t had as much exposure in recent discussions about games and government support or interest – that of the essential maker communities.
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Turning off our screens

This is the presentation I gave at GCAP 2011. It’s drawn from other blog posts & thoughts I’ve had, notably on industry, culture, and the language we use. There are some new ideas and facts – notably the early analysis of Film Victoria’s game funding program, which I hope to dig into more detail on soon – but it’s the first time I’ve collected it all together in a single talk. It also hit some of the beats from Mike Acton’s keynote, which was fortunate as we went on just after each other at the conference.

I’ll be uploading the talk I gave to the Government Round Table on the importance of maker communities to creative industries in the next few days, as well as the data I’ve collated from the Film Victoria reports.

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Thoughts and notes from GCAP

At the tail end of last year’s GCAP the news of trouble at Krome hummed through the crowd during the final session – a panel with Shaniel Deo, Bob Loya, Greg Short, and chaired by me. In it, as people discovered what was happening to Australia’s largest studio, we tried our best not to focus on that but to frame the learning of a conference that felt unlike previous GCAPs in that it actually had a personality and something to say about the changing shape of studio and industrial development – changes thrown into relief by the sad news.

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Writing roundup and upcoming events…

Emerging from Freeplay, things haven’t particularly slowed down – and digging through my submissions, it looks I missed a few things too.

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TEDxMelbourne – The Need for Games Literacy

This is the slides and a transcript of the talk I gave at the TEDxMelbourne event at the State Library of Victoria on July 19, 2011.

If you’re anything like me, the two words games and literacy don’t really belong together. In my head they feel a little bit like 2 magnets vibrating as they try to repel each other, and I suspect it’s the same for many of you.

What I want to talk to you about this evening is not only how they do go together, but why it’s important that they do, as well as taking a look at the innovations that have made that necessary.

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We are not legion

On Friday, the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) met to discuss the introduction of an R18+ rating. This has been a longstanding discussion in Australia and the discussion happens against the backdrop of a wider classification review of all forms of media. Only NSW declined to vote in favour of the rating – citing the recent formation of a new government in that state – but committed to consulting with them on the topic as soon as possible. These events pave the way for the introduction of an R18+ rating for videogames in Australia.

On Saturday, A Norwegian man let off a bomb in Oslo that killed seven people and shot and killed another 80 at an island retreat.

These events have nothing in common.

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Upcoming Events…Part 2

At the very real risk of overexposure, I’ll be speaking about my usual mix of games, writing, and Freeplay related stuff at:

The ATOM Screen Futures conference on Sunday 10th July, 12:00 – 1:00

Teaching games and games literacy

While videogames sit firmly in the limelight, there is a whole world of games out there that are more accessible, more easily read, and which teach tangible skills that can feed into digital games and interactive development.

Drawing from a recent Department of Education and Early Chidhood Development research project into teaching games and games literacy, this session will look at games and design from physical and pervasive games, board games, improvisation, experimentation, and design exercises with the aim of separating out the creative skills from the technical and providing a base to support greater games literacy in the classroom – whether or not the final outcome is a digital game or something else.

Monash University’s Computer Games Boot Camp on Thursday July 14th talking about writing for games and indie development.

The next TEDxMelbourne event on the evening of Tuesday July 19th talking about Gaming and Innovation.

VITTA‘s annual ICT Week event at BMW Edge on Wednesday July 27th talking about the changing shape of the industry and what that means for students & careers.

IGDA Brisbane Game On

Recently, I was invited up to Brisbane by their IGDA chapter to speak at one of their Monthly Game On events. It was a pretty open invitation so what I decided to focus on was extending some of the thoughts that I’ve had here about industry, culture, and how the words we use restrict our ability to properly think about things.

Here’s the video. A full copy of the talk – which isn’t really a transcript, but it’s what I wrote to say amidst a flurry of other deadlines – is beneath the fold.

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Upcoming events…

Flurry of activity before I disappear into a Freeplay wrangling flurry.

I’ll be running a session at the Emerging Writers’ Festival as part of their Business of Being a Writer Masterclass on Process and Organisation. This event has sold out (hurrah), but there are still tickets available for their myriad other events.

I’ll also be running on of their TwitterFEST sessions on play and the creative process, building on and discussing my piece in The Reader that you can read online here.

Through Freeplay, we’ve also organised a few playful storytelling things with them. Head over to the event on their website or Freeplay to learn more.

Early June, I’ll be up in Brisbane to talk at the IGDA / Creative Industry Precinct’s Game On program. There isn’t much detail on the site, but this is what I’ll be talking about:

The words we use to describe the space we work in – development, industry, culture, community – all describe structures built, either deliberately or as a byproduct of other processes, by people. In the face of a shifting industrial landscape, how can we build new structures that might better reflect how we’d like to live and work, what would the values of such a community look like, and what does it mean to connect with a wider creative, critical, and artistic culture? This year’s Freeplay will explore these ideas – along with many others – but before it does, co-director Paul Callaghan will talk about some of the history and philosophy behind Freeplay, what to expect from this year’s event, and what to think about into 2012 and beyond.

After that,  I’m going to be at the Continuum Speculative Fiction and Pop Culture Convention talking games and storytelling. Look out for the launch of their full program here.

And lastly, I’ll be running a workshop with ExpressMedia on Innovative Storytelling as part of their Big Splash series.