Important statement regarding Austin Wintory and Freeplay’s Symposium

Due to unforeseen and pressing circumstances, Austin Wintory, Freeplay’s 2015 keynote speaker, has had to return home to America immediately following his final Melbourne Symphony Orchestra performance on Saturday evening. This means that Austin will be unable to attend the festival in person. Despite this unfortunate situation, Austin has very kindly agreed to video a keynote address which we will play exclusively for our Symposium audience. This is the same address that he had prepared for our festival. We are also putting together a few other plans to make this session special for our audience despite Austin’s physical absence. Freeplay understands and that many people will have booked their Symposium tickets hoping to see Austin speak live and that this situation will be greatly disappointing. We hope that you will enjoy Austin’s recorded address, but we are also happy to offer refunds for Symposium tickets for any that choose not to attend the event as the result of this situation. If you wish to cancel your ticket and receive a refund, please email ticketing@freeplay.net.au. Otherwise, we’d like to thank our Freeplay audience for their patience and understanding, and we’d like to wish Austin all the...

Online Festival: The Last Few Days

Earlier this week our Online Festival came to a close. In case you missed them, here are the panels that happened in those last few days, archived for your convenience. Every panel from the Online Festival can be found here. If you’re in Melbourne, don’t forget we have in-person events happening all weekend, including tonight’s Board Games Up Late, Saturday’s fete and Hovergarden party, and Sunday’s unconference and symposium.   The Interview Game: Chris Johnson Journalist and former Freeplay Director Katie Williams interviews Adelaide-based game developer Chris Johnson while Chris plays some of his own games. They discuss Chris’s design philosophy and the tensions between commercial and artistic ambitions among other things.   Videogames and Indigenous Cultures Rae Johnson talks to Amy Fredeen (USA) and Alan Gershfeld (USA) about using videogames as a medium for telling the stories of Indigenous, Aboriginal, and First Nation communities around the globe. They discuss the process of creating the critically-acclaimed Never Alone, and both the importance and difficulty of conveying such culturally significant stories through videogames.   Collective Intelligence Members of a range of videogame and artist collectives from Australia and New Zealand discuss the advantages and difficulties of forming creative collectives, drawing from their own experiences and offering advice.   Games and War Dr. Malcolm Ryan talks to Hugh Davies, Dr. Helen Berents, Dan McMahon, and Stephen Coleman about the relationship between war and videogames, particularly in regards to ethics. Can videogames depict war in an ethical manner? How can a videogame speak meaningfully to the experiences of war? How do they get it wrong?   Curating For Diversity Academic, curator, and founder...

Online Festival: Weekend Panels

Our Online Festival continued over the weekend with a bunch of insightful panels. If you missed any of them, fear not! They are all archived on YouTube and you can watch them whenever you want. All videos of the Online Festival can be access on the Online Festival webpage, and all upcoming panels can be watched live on our homepage. Here is what went down this weekend: Romance and Queer Representation in Games Liam Esler (chair), Snow McNally, Alexander Ocias, Luke Miller, and Barbara Kerr discussed a range of fascinating subjects including why romance games have become so popular in recent years, just how explicit queer content should be, the importance of diverse representation, and whether its okay to depict revenge fantasies against bigots.   Watch This Game: Let’s Plays, Streaming, and the Future of Games Prescription Pixel, Emma Graham, and Brendan Keogh discuss the exploding world of video content, including the rise of Let’s Play videos and livestreaming. They discussed topics including the relationship between Youtubers and games journalism, being an internet celebrity, and issues facing Australian video content producers directly.   Self-Care For Game Developers Leena van Deventer, Natasha Katopodis, Francis Fitzgerald, and Laura Crawford talk about a range of ways that making games can be personally taxing, and explore ways to look after yourself and be both productive and healthy. Takeaways include take regular naps and put a whiteboard in the shower.   Games With Invisible Buttons Designers Christy Dena, Kate Raynes-Goldie, and Holly Gramazio (UK) discuss their various works that straddle digital and non-digital forms. Topics include designing site-specific games, parallels with the re-emergence of local multiplayer...

Online Festival: Australia From The Outside

Kicking off the Freeplay Online Festival last night, Siobhan Reddy (UK, MediaMolecule), Alex Hutchinson (Canada, Ubisoft Montreal), and Bennett Foddy (New York, Independent) discussed what it is like being an Australian games developer living overseas. They discussed topics including why they left, the geographical challenges facing game developers in Australia, whether there is such thing as an ‘Australian videogame’, and offered advice to other Australian developers taking the leap. Check out the Online Festival’s program for other panels that you can watch live from our homepage over the next week, or catch up on later via the YouTube...

Fast Five – Chris Johnson

In the lead up to this year’s festival, we’ve asked some of our speakers a set of Fast Five questions about their work and their thoughts on games in Australia. Today we have independent game designer Chris Johnson. Chris is currently developing Expand, and he will be both playing and speaking about his games as part of the Online Festival. What are you working on right now? I’m currently working on Expand. Readers might have seen an earlier version of the game at the Freeplay Arcade back in 2012 or maybe at PAX Australia last year. Expand is a game where you move through this ever shifting circular labyrinth. The game feels like you’re doing a sudoku puzzle and meditating at the same time. We’re currently in the trenches creating more content for the game. For Expand, content creation is the most time consuming and draining part of the development process. It’s also very rewarding seeing the game get closer and closer to being finished. What do you wish you worked on? Why? I wish I made a solid PuzzleScript game when that was new. I’ve taught a few people how to make games with PuzzleScript but haven’t made anything myself. I think the process of making something would help develop my skills in level design. Maybe I’m not thinking hard enough about this but I feel as though a lot of the simpler variations of PuzzleScript games have been made. So it’s now a process of being more creative since I really wouldn’t want to make a riff on someone else’s idea. What’s an Australian game, old or...