Running a festival is a unique experience, and a games festival even more so. After 7 events over 9 years, Freeplay remains the only thing like it in Australia, and I feel incredibly privileged to have been part of it for the past 4 years.
For me, the most important thing about Freeplay has always been the way it pulls the process of game development away from businesses and studios back to a conversation about people making things. I felt that way in 2005 & 2007 when I came along as a speaker and an audience member, getting to sit and discuss my ideas and experiences with people thinking about a life outside of the studio system – a space which has become increasingly important as game development and what it means to be independent has changed around us. As the outgoing director, I’m grateful for the challenges and inspiration I found every year in putting the festival on, in the people who so generously donated their time and energy to the whole thing, and in the way Freeplay was able to be part of what it means to engage with games as a maker, critic, educator, artist, or player.
I want to thank everyone who has been part of Freeplay in the past – founders, directors, and Next Wave; the Freeplay Board; all the volunteers and associate producers who’ve given up their time; everyone who has been part of the festival’s programming committee; the organisations who have worked with Freeplay over the years as sponsors and partners; and to everyone who has spoken at, attended, or even thought about the festival. Freeplay is what it is because of your generosity, time, and energy.
After 4 years of urging people to go make things the time has come for me to do just that. I’m excited about what the future holds, and in putting into practice what I’ve learned at the festival – and I’m also excited about future festivals challenging me in ways I can’t predict under the direction of new directors Katie Williams and Harry lee. I wish them all the very best in the role, and I know that with them at the helm, Freeplay will remain unique, quirky, creative, experimental, personal, and inspiring to a new wave of people who want to go out and make things.
See you at #freeplay13!