Reading Matters

Is there an app for that?

Paul Callaghan, John Flanagan and Fiona Wood talk stories and communities in a brave new world.

I sing the body electric

Videogames create worlds, experiences, bodies, and imaginations for us in new ways of expressing ourselves – and uncovering new opportunities to directly experience the deeply personal.

National Screenwriters’ Conference

DIGITAL NARRATIVES: LOVE, GAMES AND FEAR OF THE MACHINE

There’s so much change in the world of digital storytelling, but just like film, theatre, radio and television, a strong script is still where these new forms begin to succeed. Chaired by Mike Cowap of Screen Australia, the session will explore the craft of writing for digital narratives: from online documentaries, to alternate reality dramas, to AAA video games.  Using examples from their own work, experienced creators in the on-line space, Sam Doust and Paul Callaghan will workshop this new craft from the writer and director perspectives.

VITTA Conference

Why games in education is about more than just skills – and why gamification isn’t the answer.

Videogames are an attractive addition to education practice, whether through serious games, development, or the emergence of gamification. However, all of these endeavours ignore the cultural value and resonsnce of games in favour of their superficially playful and persuasive properties. In this session, Paul Callaghan, designer of the game development strand of the recent DEECD game baed learning trials and the director of the Freeplay Independent Games Festival which explores the intersection of games, art, and culture will explore why there’s more to games than what they ask you to do.

Game Connect Asia Pacific

Turning Off Our Screens

Presentation – transcript & slides

With so much of our development and playtime devoted to screens and technology, it’s easy to think that videogames are a screen medium with the same, or at least similar enough, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for storytelling, or that they’re a technology industry trying to build better, faster, smarter, widgets or tools for creating widgets. Anyone working in games has, at some point, suspected if not outright known that this isn’t the case. This talk looks at other lenses through which to view games, and along the way wonders aloud what it might look like if we broke away from the reliance on screen culture and the surrounding dialogue – and also what we might need to start telling ourselves and others as part of that shift.

The Assessment Panel

Panel – video

Submissions to any funding agency go through a process of assessment and evaluation that involves those administering the funds and outside experts who bring a range of experiences and lenses through which to view the applications. This panel brings together assessors who have worked for state and federal agencies, including Film Victoria, Screen Australia, and Industry and Investment NSW to share what they look for in an application, what works and doesn’t work, and how to make your submission stand out.

Government Round Table

Presentation – Transcript & slides

A look at the need for support of a diverse maker community that exists in games – just as it exists in other creative industries.

Screen Futures

Teaching Games and Games Literacy –

Presentation – Slideshare

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 Childhood 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.

National Screenwriters’ Conference

Are you Game? : Writing for Games

Are you an x-box? Or more of an Atari? Do you even know the difference? If you do, then this session’s for you. If you don’t, its time to update your knowledge and explore opportunities for writers’ and trends with games as the genre continues to grow quicker than any other form of entertainment. Speakers will present invaluable ‘how to’ tips as well as case studies on films and TV shows that have benefited from games and vice-versa.

Emerging Writers’ Festival – Saturday

I spent the entire weekend wrapped in the Melbourne Town Hall (and Fad Gallery) for the 2009 Emerging Writers’ Festival.

On Saturday, I wasn’t speaking so I was able to attend panels, get a sense of the space for Sunday, and hear cool people talk about interesting things.

First up was Seven Enviable Lines where the festival’s six ambassadors – Luke Devenish, Kathryn Heyman, Rachel Hills, David Milroy and Pooja Mittal – spoke about the seven pieces of advice they wished they’d been given starting out.  As a fiction writer, I found Luke Devenish and Kathryn Heyman most interesting.  Luke is a playwright & teacher who’s worked on both Neighbours and Home and Away.  He had a really strong sense of the craft of writing and was an incredibly open and personal speaker, both things that I look for and try to do when I’m presenting too.  Kathryn Heyman is a novellist, and again, had a strong sense of craft and willingness to share.  I knew I’d get to catch up with Luke at some point because I was on a panel with him, but I resolved to talk to Kathryn at some point, but sadly only got to shake her hand as she was leaving the bar on Sunday Evening.  She told me I had very soft hands.  I told her I was a writer and had never done a day of hard labour in my life.

I saw two From Here to There sessions – Hollow Fields with Madeleine Rosca, and The Librarians with Robyn Butler and Wayne Hope.  These sessions were designed to give the audience more of an in depth look at a particular piece of work.  There’s something consistently comforting in hearing the stories of how people create.  There are always enough trials – the length of time it took to get the Librarians off the ground; Madeleine having entire pages of her comic rejected and having to rework them – that it reminded me that this is part and parcel of the writer’s life.

The Great State Divide was an attempt to answer the question – is there a regional voice for each state in Australia.  As an outsider, I find the question of an ‘Australian Voice’ an incredibly interesting one, but I’m not sure this session managed to answer the question.  The speakers were diverse in both content and quality – the highlight being Sean Riley who told the incredibly personal story of him growing up in Tasmania and the very clear moment where he realised he wanted to be a writer.

Last on Saturday, before retreating to Fad Gallery in Chinatown, was The Pitch where a broad range of publishers – some established, some independent – let the audience in on what they were looking for.

The day let me put into words something that I’ve thought for a long time but never actually verbalised.  Seeing such a large group of writers, with such broad ranges of experience, I still found myself drawn to particular things – and it wasn’t necessarily what they said, but how they said it.  I’m interested in people who share something of themselves at conferences, who, afterwards, you feel like you know a little bit better.  If they manage to impart something useful, some glimmer of knowledge about how to proceed, great, but I’d much rather hear someone talk who could speak with conviction and passion about why they write, letting their personality shine through.

Sunday writeup coming soon…

A bit about me…

I’ve added an about page to the site.  Feels like I have to write a new bio for every single upcoming event 🙂  Hoh well, I had to do it anyway for one of the projects that I hope to announce sometime in the next few months…

And speaking of upcoming events, I’m going to be appearing at this year’s National Screenwriters’ Conference in Adelaide.  Session details are:

Writing – It’s More Than A Game

The differentiation between games and films is blurring rapidly. As game graphics and other technical innovations reach a highpoint, games are depending more and more on character, story and plot… and traditional screenwriters are becoming a valuable resource for the games industry.

The major global film market (15-30yo) is spending more time and money on games than cinema – and the trend isn’t slowing. So is there a place for you in game writing? Do you have to be a user to appreciate the form? How do your skills translate to this exciting field? And is the sky really the limit? Find out how you can tap into this exciting writing opportunity from three internationally respected games writers.

So, here we are…

I’ve tried to blog / maintain a website in the past, but always failed because I felt like there wasn’t much of interest happening. That’s changed now that I’ve gone freelance because there are some interesting projects on the horizon – most of which I can’t talk about just yet, but soon. I hope.

In the meantime, this site is still under construction, but you can visit some of the sections that were easier to put together than others:

Appearances

One of the reasons I wanted to start this site was to bring together a lot of the random stuff floating around the web that I’d been involved with. This page contains videos of my appearances on ABC2 and at Freeplay.

Conferences & Presentations

Over the years, I’ve done a bunch of conference presentations.  Here’s where you can find the details of the sessions and copies of the presentations.  Most of the new ones are in .mov format because I bought a mac and fell in love with Keynote.

Game Projects – Old ProjectsCurrent Projects

Here you can find details of what I’m working on now and what I’ve worked on in the past.  Sadly, the current project page is a bit quiet because everything’s early days.

Writing

This is where you can find samples of my personal writing.  It’s a little sparse just now because I’ve been focusing on a novel for the past few years.  That should change during 2009.